From Godin to Great

As a leader of a team who is stewarding communication of a movement, I have a tremendous challenge.  As I’m helping lead through a “management-to-leadership” culture change of an organization, there are hurdles to jump over.  One being to guard against being a manager and sticking to being a leader.  The other is to make sure the risks we take as a group are the right ones.

Working for an evangelical denomination is amazing.  I get push-back sometimes from Christians when I speak to them about business models and grafting them into a denomination.  They say there are different rules for business and the church.  They’re partially right.  But there are similarities in great business which we can take and implement into our changing culture.

Leadership with Seth Godin

Key Points

  • Managers figure out what they want to get done and get people to do it.
  • Leadership is about finding the right people, agreeing on where you want to go, and getting out of the way.
  • Leadership means embracing the failure of your people if it leads to growth.
  • Leadership means not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, just knowing it’s going to take you where you want to go.

Tide and Water

Seth talks about “firing customers”.  He talks about most companies and/or leaders sometimes spend 80% of their time on 20% of the customer base and lose potential.  He suggests, if we fired the 20% of the people taking 80% of the time, think about the potential that could exist.

Does that translate into the church?  Could we do this?  Should we?  In this moment, I’d say yes.  We all know those people in the church that claim to know Jesus but take up the most time, mostly not on Kingdom agenda items.  What if pastors fired their “Extra Grace Required” people and chose to focus more on Kingdom?  How would that affect their church?

A few seasons ago my wife and I planted a church in Central New York.  When we arrived, there were 35 people and the church wasn’t growing.  It wasn’t until 26 of those people left that the church was able to blossom.  26 people had to be “fired”.  The Holy Spirit helped with this.  It illustrates the principle that it is possible. But it’s not easy. That’s how leadership works. The great ones made the hard decisions for the greater good.

Cross the Street

Godin also suggests to do something “scary”.  Nobody wants something that’s a “little bit better and a little bit cheaper.”  He admonishes us to take risks.  We don’t have to copy/paste the “other guy” to compete.  What if we created something completely different to fill a need?  The race to the top is being more innovative, artistic, connected, and leading.  And none of them have to do with compliance or telling people what to do.

This is true for our team as we seek to build a denominational model that is different from any other.  Sure we’re looking at “the other guys”.  But we’re also taking some risks.  Risks that really don’t seem risky to me much.  But risks that we hope will pay off for the Kingdom.

Boil it Down

Godin wraps up simply:  “Say what you believe and see who follows.”  For our team and our denomination, it’s no secret we have an amazing story.  We know what we believe.  We just need to get out there and say it.  And leave the rest to God.  I have pretty much the right people on my team.  We’re building out the “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” [Jim Collins, “Good to Great” | Amazon Link ].  As a leader, I’m learning to balance making sure the vision is clear and getting out of the way to see the innovation and creativity take things to a whole new level.

Turn the Tables

Is Godin off his rocker? Or is he on to something? What risks have you taken? Are you even willing to take them? Post your comments below.


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