On-going Leadership Success
by Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Those who led an organization into crisis or decline are unlikely to be the ones to lead them out of it without a radical change in attitude and a willingness to learn and try new things. When the organization exists to protect the comfort and preferences of a few, or the privilege of even fewer, or to serve the "leader(s)" who are supposed to be serving/leading the organization, then turning around the organization is unlikely. In fact, if the ones charged with casting a vision and/or implementing the policies and procedures will not admit that a turn around is even needed, then continued decline, increasing irrelevance, and eventual extinction is all but certain.
Leaders who succeed beyond a season seem to be those who are continually learning, who are keeping up with trends as they are (rather than trying to recreate a past that is forever gone), who are willing to constantly assess the health of the organization (based on verifiable metrics) and make course corrections as needed, who are training, equipping, raising up, and attracting new leaders, who are outwardly focused and service minded, who are making the most of technological advances, who are optimistic without depending on magical fixes, and who are transparent (without becoming defeatist) about both successes and challenges, plans and setbacks, victories and disappointments.
If a leader can cast and continually articulate a compelling vision, continually train and equip other and new leaders, constantly learn and adapt and even reinvent herself/himself as needed, and deal with the difficult facts while also holding to a higher and more promising truth, then that leader is less likely to burn out and will be more likely to remain effective for a very long time.
Leaders who are unwilling to do these things will be cease to be leaders and will become place holders until they become monuments to the past, until they become mourners who are missing the movement or organization they once led before it gasped its last breath.
I learned long ago, that all newcomers to a church need "a friend and job." If people are not invited into relationship and given meaningful work to do (which will employ their skills and talents and personalities, which will add to a vibrant, flexible, changing and growing community), they will not stay, or if they stay they will not fully engage, and they certainly won't be part of inviting others to give the community a try. Growth requires new people, and new people have to be welcome and valued and allowed to be part of a viable future rather that simply honoring a past which is not part of their experience.
Growth means change.
Growth means newness.
Growth means learning.
And growth depends on effective leadership. As leadership experts have said over and over, everything rises and falls on leadership, and leadership is influence, and influence is part of relationship.
If leaders are not leading forward, they are not leading at all, which means they aren't really leaders (they are managers, and probably micromanagers, and what they are managing is or will soon enough be in decline).
If a message is life-giving, you'll want more people to hear it. To get more people to hear it, the organization will have to become healthier, and the health of organizations depend on healthy leadership; and healthy leadership will attract new leaders even as the "old guard" are constantly learning and growing themselves.
"Behold, I make all things new!" Revelation 21.5
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing...do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43.18-19
"As congregations shrink, the members who would be the most help turning them around often are among the first to go: the energetic, outward-focused people with an urgent sense of purpose and good skills for group decision-making." Dan Hotchkiss