A lack of leadership development could be an early indicator that your organization is headed for serious decline. There’s a shortage of leaders in your pipeline and you’re beginning to feel the effects organization wide: You’re unprepared to handle additional growth; The organization as a whole is in jeopardy if you loose one or two key leaders; Potential leaders can’t break into the organization because it’s the same ole people doing the same ole jobs for years. The need is great, you recognize it, but you’re not sure others do. You’ve made efforts in the past to get a leadership development movement started but it didn’t stick.
You’ve said the right words, cast the right vision and even set the right goals but still not gained any traction. Why? It could be you’ve failed to understand that people’s actions are based out of their assumptions. Their deeply embed assumptions have greater power than your words of inspiration. If you’re unaware of these basic assumptions you may not be able to get any movement toward your leadership development objectives.
Here are FIVE Common Assumptions that you need to constantly challenge and dismantle in your organization.
- Developing leaders is not my role. They may nod their head and smile politely as you declare the urgent need for leader development, but deep down most people have the assumption “developing leaders is not my job”. It’s not that they’re being stubborn or rebellious. Most people take a job because they love it and they love the responsibility that comes with it. So equipping someone else to do what they do is not a natural thought for them.
- God will provide the leaders we need. While your leaders may feel the pain of the leadership shortage their primary strategy to fill the gap is to pray for God’s provision. I’m not down playing prayer as part of the process; of course we have to depend on God for the provision of leaders. However, prayer as a singular strategy ignores the leaders Biblical responsibility to replicate himself. Ignoring the discipline of leader development is unhealthy for the leader and the organization long term.
- I can handle the current scope of work. Some leaders look at their area of responsibility and think, “I can do it myself, there is no need to develop anyone else.” This assumption indicates a lack of leadership maturity and cripples the long-term growth and health of that area of ministry. While they may be very adequate at handling the current responsibilities, their refusal to develop others is short sited and selfish and ultimately puts the ministry at risk if the leader were suddenly removed.
- Developing leaders requires a special skill set that I do not possess. Yes, leader development requires some specific skills but they are skills that can be easily developed. I’d rather have someone trying to develop leaders and doing it poorly than making no effort at all. At least when they’re trying I can step in and provide coaching that will help them grow in this discipline. As long as you’re providing feedback on their efforts they’ll get better in this area.
- There are no consequences if I do not develop leaders. They may not say this out loud but deep down some people think, “If I am a good ‘doer’ I will be rewarded and my superiors will overlook my inattention to leader development.” We cannot allow current leaders to settle for simply being “doers”. To expand, grow and create vital ministries requires the replication of new leaders. Every healthy organism reproduces. Measure and celebrate the replication of new leaders this will provide accountability and over time remove the wrong assumption.
What are other assumptions you’ve witnessed the hamper a leadership development culture?