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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.

25 Jun '12

The test of a leader's humility and openness

Both in my consulting role and my organizational leadership role I work with team leaders and their direct reports. One of the things I am always looking for is how honest, candid, direct and transparent team members can be with their leader. It is a barometer of several things: the health of the senior leader; the health of the team and the health of the organization as a whole.

How is this a barometer of the leader? Let's be candid. The only reason that certain issues cannot be discussed with freedom with a leader, whether in a group setting or one on one is that the leader's insecurities prevent it. To the extent that I as a leader am unwilling to hear candid feedback from others on any topic, the gaps in my own emotional intelligence are showing. Obviously I have something to lose by discussing the issue or have something to prove by being right on the issue. 

Leaders set the culture of openness or lack of it for their team. In our organization we have a stated goal that there are no elephants that cannot be named (elephants are issues that people are afraid to bring up). Once named it is not an elephant anymore but simply an issue to be discussed and resolved. We also operate by a motto of "nothing to prove and nothing to lose." If I have nothing to prove or lose I am free to hear whatever my team wants to discuss without needing to be defensive or right.

How is the the barometer of the health of a team? Very simply, when a team cannot engage in robust dialogue where any issue can be put on the table with the exception of personal attacks and hidden agendas, it cannot maximize its effectiveness. This is because it is often the topics that are off limits are the very topics that must be resolved if the ministry is going to be all that it can be. Every issue that cannot be discussed is an issue that will hold the ministry back in some area. 

I suggest that teams operate by a team covenant which spells out how they operate with one another, the ability to be candid and define the culture by which they will operate. Healthy teams deliver healthy ministry.

It should be obvious by now how this is a barometer of an organization as a whole: Healthy organizations are open, candid and humble organizations who are always looking to improve their return on mission and invite their staff to help figure that out. Closed organizations are fearful organizations. Open organizations are free and therefore invite the best from their staff in ideas, dialogue, feedback, innovation and synergy.

How well are you doing in the area of humility and openness. Can you talk about it as a team?