One of the key elements in leading is the need to bring consensus around key directional decisions. If one does not build consensus, you do not have a guiding coalition to ensure wide buy in for decisions you make. Further, if your leadership involves bringing any significant measure of change, that consensus is not only necessary but may make the difference between the change agent being successful or run out of the organization by the forces that resist change.

I believe that the key to such consensus for an organizational leader, whether in a church or other ministry (this applies equally to the business world) is to build a strong team at the top – which I call a directional team. Solo leaders in hierarchical structures will inevitably get themselves into trouble compared to leaders who choose to lead through team. The reasons are obvious: group consensus is much more powerful than one leader's mandate; team dynamics make for better and wiser decisions; the organization knows that decisions have been vetted well and you have a guiding coalition that both supports and explains those decisions.

The cost to a senior leader is that they must give up their autonomy, become a coach and lead through team. Thus humility is required. It also means that they may not always get their way or their preference. Leaders who lack humility will not build real directional teams as they need their way. However, they also do not engender the kind of support, loyalty and long term staff relationships that those who build team do.

In our organization we have a senior team of eleven individuals, half of whom oversee ReachGlobal support divisions and the other half who are international leaders.  Directional decisions are vetted through either the program leadership side or the international leadership side or both, depending on the issue. I do not move forward with any major directional decision or policy change without bringing it to my appropriate colleagues and then all of us support that decision. Smaller organizations would have a smaller team at the top - but a team is always preferable to any one individual.

One of the things senior leaders are looking for is influence. They want and need a piece of the directional decision making process. It affects them and they are wired to lead. With a directional team at the top the senior leader can provide multiple wise voices to speak into direction, vision, ministry architecture and the many issues that the ministry faces as it expands its effectiveness. It is a win/win for all involved – including those who are impacted by the decision in the organization.
  • Feb 18, 2011
  • Category: News
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