Been too busy to read The Leadership Difference? I just put together an executive summary of it that hits the highlights for you. Longer than my usual blog entries, but well worth it. Read on….
The Leadership Difference: An Executive Summary
Have you ever felt like you weren’t fully equipped for your leadership role? Like you needed a bit more practical guidance in the “what-to-dos” of ministry? Effective ministry leadership begins with learning the Bible and theology, but we can also learn practical skills from others who have gone before us. If you are running up against barriers that aren’t specifically theological but are more about how to lead people and get along with them as you work together, The Leadership Difference is for you. The Leadership Difference focuses specifically on key leadership skills you need to be effective as a leader:
- Discernment and focus
- Effective self-care
- Who you need on your team
- Team-building essentials
- Developing people through coaching
- Leading change
- Communication skills
- Supervising staff
- Organizational development
- Financial and legal practicalities
- Empowering and releasing new leaders
Anyone in a position of leadership, whether they’re leading a church, a team, or a small group, needs skills and strategies like these — skills and strategies that result in lightening your own load, developing the skills of others, and getting the job done effectively.
Synopsis of The Leadership Difference book:
Introduction: My Moses Problem Moses came close to burning himself out—and likely would have without the intervention of his father-in-law—because he was trying to do too many things himself. As I discovered early in my ministry, I realized that leading was not doing it all by myself, but equipping others and overseeing an organization. Ministry leaders too often believe they have a spiritual problem when they get tired and worn out, when it’s often a leadership skills problem. This book is designed to help with the Moses problem.
Chapter 1: The Foundation: Most of Your Leadership Problems Are Actually Discipleship Problems Without a foundation of discipleship, all of your efforts to develop leaders within your ministry will be for naught. Discipleship is the often less visible but absolutely essential foundation upon which leadership must rest. Without it, everything else collapses. Make sure those you are developing as leaders are first of all disciples.
Chapter 2: Your Own Personal Development: Don’t Skip This Chapter Actions are a far better indicator of the heart than words. Our own personal development is the starting point and essential foundation for developing other leaders. That includes things like managing your time, setting your priorities, learning to say no, and engaging in lifelong learning.
Chapter 3: Who Do You Need? Getting the Right Players on Your Team The right people for your team depend on your own strengths and abilities. You’ll need people with different, but complementary, giftings. As I’ve said many times, “If you want to know my weaknesses, look at the strengths of the people around me.” And be sure to hold people loosely: sometimes God may call them to new places, new roles, or new ministries.
Chapter 4: Developing People: Creating a Framework for Growth Personal coaching is the number one way to develop people. We see it modeled in how Jesus interacted with his disciples: He asked them questions that made them think, he let them try things, and he gave them the information and instructions they needed when they needed them: just in time, just enough, and not too much. Likewise, we need to create environments, relationships, and processes that are conducive to developing people as leaders.
Chapter 5: Team-Building, Part 1: Building One Another Up Relational elements like building trust, recognizing each other’s strengths, and praying and learning together form the foundation of effective teamwork. The most common error in building relational trust on your team is simply not taking the time necessary to do it. Be sure to provide regular affirmation and learn each team member’s strengths and unique contributions—and call them out in front of others.
Chapter 6: Team-Building, Part 2: Spurring One Another On This chapter focuses on how to lead teams toward fruitful and effective ministry results. Here, we see the external values of a team: how a team shows its heart through love and good deeds toward the wider world. Topics addressed include casting vision, clarifying direction, roles and strategy, delegating tasks and responsibilities, and leading effective meetings.
Chapter 7: Discernment and Focus: Getting a Sense of Direction Finding your sense of direction in ministry involves discernment, focus, and the leading of God. Often it involves a good deal of wandering around in the wilderness. Yet the road becomes clearer as we go and as we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit at each step along the way. Sometimes we accomplish our goals and sometimes we don’t. But even if they need to shift along the way, having goals of some kind gives us direction and focus for our work.
Chapter 8: Leading Change: Herding Cats and Other Feats of Patience Leading change well is one of the most difficult tasks of a Christian leader. It takes a lot of listening and addressing of concerns to get buy-in. Change is not optional in ministry—it’s a given. Things will change: circumstances, demographics, culture. The question is how we respond, and how we lead through it… even when there is a long road ahead. God continues to prepare us for a future that we don’t yet fully see.
Chapter 9: Communication Skills: It Takes Three Cuts to Get It Right Good communication requires time, effort and patience. Listening well, being honest, asking good questions, and keeping control over one’s tongue are essentials for leaders. From there, leaders can build more specific skills, such as learning to communicate new information to key people before communicating it to the congregation at large. Specific communication strategies include providing feedback appropriately, adapting to work with different kinds of people, and resolving conflict.
Chapter 10: Advanced People Development: Working with Key Leaders There are few investments you can make that will produce more fruit for the kingdom of God than truly developing and empowering new leaders. If you really want to develop the people on your team, you need provide a clear, intentional process that includes supervision, coaching, feedback, skill development practice, and a clear development plan. It’s an investment. Good intentions aren’t enough. They need to be translated into clear actions and processes. We need to involve, orient and equip our key leaders.
Chapter 11: Organizational Development: Shifting Gears to Avoid Stalling Out As churches and ministries grow, we need to shift our leadership behavior and structure. This includes broadening the span of care, facilitating shepherding, overseeing small groups, modifying the plan as you go, getting a coach, and even identifying a successor for yourself. Context and conditions matter, and sometimes we must shift course in response.
Chapter 12: Financial and Legal Practicalities: Staying Out of Jail Misuse of church funds—in all of its infinite variety—is one the easiest and fastest ways to destroy a church. This chapter covers the very practical matter of handling money well and legally for ministry organizations. We’ll go over some best practices, as well as the underlying principles for handing ministry money well. Many pastors have little to no experience with running the financial side of a church, yet it’s an essential part of church leadership. Topics covered include transparency and safeguards, cash flow, connecting budgets to goals, and congregational communication about money matters.
Chapter 13: Empowering and Releasing Others: Giving It All Away Real leadership—biblical leadership—is about giving away ministry responsibility and decision-making authority, not keeping it for yourself. It’s about equipping others to do what you do. The final chapter of this book brings us full circle. It’s about releasing new leaders and new organizations, empowering them and sending them out to continue the work of the ministry. We must all—wherever God has placed us—multiply and give away leadership if we are to play our part in contributing to the vision of the kingdom of God.