From time to time, I’ve done all of these things to my people — and had them done to me by supervisors, pastors and leaders as well. Pretty common leadership gaffes that take a toll on your people:
Want to alienate people? Keep information from them. I understand that there is certain “top level information” and certainly important things that need to be kept discreet or even secret until a launch or big reveal — what frustrates people is keeping secret even the most basic information that should be disseminated to everyone. Don’t hide behind phrases like “that’s just our culture” or “it has always been that way” — change the culture and don’t be OK with the dysfunctions of the past. Every email builds a culture.
Require them to be at things at the last minute.
If something is required, it should be incredibly important and everyone should have advance notice if at all possible. If there is a better way of communicating information and avoiding the meeting, do it that way. Gather fewer times a year and make them more effective. I like thinking in terms of deposits and withdrawals; most leaders realize far too late that they have long overdrawn from their team equity account. Rethink mandatory.
Make every decision in an ivory tower.
A great way to alienate your volunteers is to completely uninvolve (that’s not a word, but I don’t care) them in any and all decision making. Keep them guessing why you made the call you did, keep them in the dark about policies you announce that change everything. Summer calendar coming out? Forget collaboration and just do it yourself for a sure fire way to fail as a leader.
Believe the best person to do the job is you.
If you are always the default solution to every problem, everything will soon become your problem. Stop bottle necking authority and making everyone wait for your approval before they take action action. Let leaders lead!
Alienated people become former staff members at your church. Volunteers on the outside of your ministry soon start volunteering outside of your ministry! What would it look like if you worked hard on good communication, infrequent but potent mandatory gatherings led from the middle, and let your leaders actually lead. Could change your ministry and life!