Leadership is a Lot Like a Train, and All Leaders Are Conductors

Have you ever thought that leadership is a lot like a train? Here’s how leadership and growth expert Kirk Dando thinks of it:

The cars sitting on the tracks are loaded with different but valuable cargo (like team members: They’re all different but collectively valuable); they have a destination (the vision, measurable goals and expected time frames for arrival at the goals); and they have a route to follow (the mission and strategic plan). But they do not have a way of getting anywhere on their own. They have to hook up to the engine (the leader).

Have you ever watched how a bunch of railcars (the team) form a working train? It all begins with the engine (leader). The engine switches itself to the same track as the car (team member) it’s going to pick up; then it backs up to the car, makes contact and connects. Then it repeats the process until it has all the cars and starts heading toward its destination, sometimes picking up more cars along the way.

Likewise, all leaders are conductors, steering their organizational “trains” onward, upward and ever forward with knowledge, experience, confidence and enthusiasm—and, above all else, passion and a sure and steady hand.

It may be your first day on the job at your first organization, or your thousand and first day on the job and your tenth organization, but the warning signs—and potential train wrecks—are all the same.

 Your job as “conductor” is to steer your organization in the right direction. No organization is immune to failure, just as no train is wreck-proof. Some pitfalls can be avoided because of your organization’s lack of size. Others you encounter because of your organization’s size—as your organization grows, unfamiliar circumstances breed new challenges. Regardless of how experienced you are as a leader or how big or small your organization, every one of these warning signs is indicative of something we normally celebrate: success!

Why are these the 12 Warning Signs of Success? The answer is simple: If you don’t heed them, the very things that cause your success can also cause your demise. They can appear at any and all stages of leadership development and organizational growth.

Dando groups the signs under the three key challenges of any growth-oriented organization, namely:

  • Leadership
  • Culture
  • Performance

All 3 are central to your organization’s success. Do you see any of these warning signs in your organization?


>> Download Kirk Dando’s 12 Warning Signs of Success here

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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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
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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