I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is a one- year subscription to
When I talk about leadership development, I often reference leadership pipeline. Most leaders will say that they’re familiar with the concept. However when asked to draw their pipeline, most illustrate a linear diagram. This feedback may sound harsh, but a linear diagram is a leadership pipe dream, not pipeline. The diagram is appropriate to convey a production line, but people development does not take place along an assembly line. Linear progression fails to address the key issues between success and failure as a person moves through it.
Leadership pipeline represents both competencies at leadership levels and skills needed to transition from one level of leadership to the next. In most organizations, the pipeline is bent in multiple places. Each of these bends or passages represents a change in organizational position—a different level and complexity of leadership—where a significant mind shift must be made. These turns involve a change in role requirements, which demand new skills, time applications, and work values. The number one spot where leaders wash out occurs along these key transition points.
So, how are you equipping your people to succeed through these transition points? If you search for leadership development and training, you will find an abundance of content. However, our call as church leaders is to provide our people with a map for their development, not just a menu of ministry opportunities.
Leadership development is not a program or an event. Leadership development is a process that occurs in the context of a relationship. According to Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck in
The process to obtain a driver’s license illustrates this convergence. First, you must pass a written test to receive a permit. Next, you learn from experience behind the wheel. Most states require that permit holders spend a specific amount of time in the driver’s seat with an experienced driver. Third, that experienced driver provides the coaching piece to help you learn along the way. Once the knowledge, experience, and coaching elements are complete, a permit holder may become a licensed driver. Even after passing a driver’s test, some continue to receive coaching because they go too fast, break the rules, or forget what they have learned.
Many churches hand the ministry keys to individuals before they are prepped and ready. We do not hand car keys to someone who has never driven a vehicle because lives on the road are at stake. What a sobering thought to consider how often this handoff happens in a church when eternity is at stake.
Knowledge alone does not lead to competency. Experience without knowledge and coaching can be harmful. Coaching without knowledge or experience leaves nothing to say, no questions to ask, and no experience to debrief. However, when knowledge, coaching, and experience converge, we find a transformational sweet spot where leadership development flourishes.
To best equip the people God has entrusted to your care, your church needs a leadership pipeline to ensure ongoing leadership development. I also recognize there are role-based skills unique to each ministry area of the church. You will find both leadership pipeline and ministry-specific training pathway content for your church’s volunteers, leaders, ministry directors, and senior leadership on Ministry Grid.
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