Leadership is More Than Leading

I find that one of the most common missing ingredients in the leaders I work with is adequate training. I don’t mean that they haven’t received adequate training. I mean they fail to provide adequate training to those they lead.

Leaders like to lead. We love to come up with a vision and then marshal the troops to get the job done. But as leaders, we often fail to explain the whybehind the what. The result is often a team that knows what to do but has no clue why they need to do it – or do it that way.

Over the years, I’ve found that one of the most important things that I do as a leader is to pass on the reasons behind the decisions I make and actions I expect others to take. It’s the difference between raising up a team of worker bees or a self-directed team capable of maintaining and operating within a consistent corporate culture and organizational DNA that is so important to long term success. It’s also the difference between a team that can function well in my absence or one that is totally dependent upon my constant physical presence and detailed direction.

So how do you on the whys as well as the whats? It’s really rather simple. Start with asking yourself why? And then ask 3 to 5 more whys? Write down your answers. Then let your team in on your thinking.

  • Why did you make that decision? And why is that?
  • What is it you want a staff member to do? And why is that?
  • Why do you want it done that way? And why is that?
  • And so on.


Asking the “Why” and then letting your team in on your thinking will go a long way toward creating a team that is capable of making the decisions you’d want them to make even when you can’t be physically present – a self-directed team that makes decisions and carries out its work based on principles rather than memos.

Read more from Larry here.

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Larry Osborne

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What say you? Leave a comment!

jim — 05/28/13 7:49 pm

I find the "why" question goes better with paid staff than volunteers. When attempting to develop an equipping culture, volunteers are more susceptible to feelings of tension if they haven't already thought through their own 'whys'. And attempts to probe beyond the first 'why' response may raise their guard and see staff as potential threats to their service than partners. And they'll wonder if there's a right or wrong response. paid staff are much more vested into the vision and naturally expect some whys.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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