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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

11 Aug '13

Seven internal threats to any ministry organization

Posted by T.J. Addington in organizational threats
Every organization faces threats to it's existence and future health. Leaders are often aware of external threats such as funding and the effectiveness of their ministry. We often spend less time considering the internal threats that lurk and threaten the ministry's future, whether under our tenure or our successor's tenure. These threats are often more dangerous than external threats.

Lack of clarity 
Few threats are more dangerous that a lack of missional clarity. Diffusion of focus means that different leaders within the organization will choose their own focus leading to multiple agendas and the resulting silos within the ministry. This is a serious threat because it divides the ministry from within. Many well meaning but disparate agendas cannot substitute for a clearly articulated vision, mission, common guiding principles, and clearly delineated culture.

Undefined DNA
Every organization has a culture, a DNA. Unfortunately, many have multiple cultures which means they don't really have one culture. This is not only confusing to staff but differing cultures will bring division and conflict within the organization. Ironically, it is something that we can control and create if we choose to.

Overlooked behaviors
Especially in ministries but in many business settings, we overlook behaviors that are toxic to the health of the organization. Either we don't want to lose the person (in spite of their behavior), don't want to deal with it (conflict avoidance) or just become used to it even when it is destructive to others and ultimately to the organization. When we overlook unhealthy behaviors we allow those behaviors to sabotage the organization and we send a message that such behaviors are OK.

Lack of a leadership bench
This one is very dangerous. The test of great leadership is not what happens when we are leading but when we leave because it reveals what we did or did not leave behind. The most important thing we can gift the organization with is the next generation of leaders. Not only is it dangerous to ignore this but it is selfish because someone will inherit what we leave behind.

Inadequate focus on real results
All organizations are busy with a great deal of activity. The question, though is not whether we have activity but whether we have results based on our clarity (see above). Most ministries assume that the results are good but do not have a realistic mechanism for ensuring that they actually are. Remember, activity does not equal results. It may just equal activity.

Poor staff development
Every organization says that its people are its most important asset but many do little in the way of coaching, mentoring and developing. To not place significant and intentional emphasis on what truly is your most important asset is to rob your staff of becoming all they could become and to shortchange the impact of your organization.

Lack of focus on healthy teams
Organizations are made up of groups and those groups are either healthy teams or dysfunctional teams. Aligned, results oriented healthy teams working synergistically together under good leadership are the building blocks of a healthy and productive organization. Unless there is health at the team level there will not be health at the organizational level.

The good news about internal threats to our success is that we can do something significant about them. We cannot control external threats but we can contain internal threats.