Ask any board or staff member in a church or non-profit and you will get the same answer to this question: What is the number one frustration you face in your leadership role. The answers will often be these:
- We don't have clarity on who is responsible for what
- We experience frustration or conflict regarding roles and responsibilities
- We often feel disempowered by those who think they have the responsibility to make decisions we think we should be able to make
- We don't feel empowered in our role
- If only the board (or staff) would stay out of our way
- Because no one is clearly responsible we don't know who to hold responsible
- Lack of clarity is causing confusion at best and conflict at worst
All of these have one thing in common. That commonality is clarity. Clarity in roles, responsibilities, intended results and the freedom to act within boundaries without the permission of others.
I am currently working with a congregation that is in a process to clarity their governance structure. They interviewed a number of other congregations about their process of governance and the one thing that consistently came back to them was this. Have maximum clarity around roles, responsibilities and outcomes. Without clarity there is no accountability. Without clarity people are not empowered to act. Without clarity there is at best confusion and at worst, conflict.
Every governance system must define the roles and responsibilities of four parties: The congregation, the senior board, the staff and ministry teams. The clearer you are, the more empowerment there is and the more accountability there will be. The foggier you are the less empowerment you will have and there will be little to no accountability.
My observation is that many governance systems are designed deliberately to create fog rather than clarity because with clarity people can act in their sphere of influence. In such churches, you will notice that they hit a ceiling and never exceed that ceiling because clarity of roles and responsibilities is critical to growth. In their lack of clarity they unwittingly limit their growth and effectiveness. Lack of clarity has a built in ceiling to growth and effectiveness.
Without clarity you cannot have alignment. Without alignment you cannot move in the same direction. And, without clarity and alignment, you cannot achieve results that are consistent with your clarity. Something to think about.