Thursday, November 05, 2009

Barna: Six Leadership Checkpoints

The following thoughts came from the RightNow conference presently going on in Dallas, Texas. George Barna is the director of the Barna Group, the leading research organization focused upon the intersection of faith and culture. This is the second of two posts from his session on leadership. There are some really great nuggets in here for leaders of all kinds. This talk is based upon a new book coming out called Master Leaders which highlights his findings after interviewing some of the nations most successful leaders.

Six Leadership Checkpoints

1. Leaders can strategically change reality, but they cannot intentionally change people. Leaders must understand they can’t change anyone unless that person has the will to change within themselves.

Once a person reaches the age of 13 they change very little. This is why Barna contends that the most important ministry we have is the ministry to children and young people. By 13 their morals, values, beliefs, and world views are already well formed. Those will only change slightly over the course of their life. What you believe by the age of 13 is likely what you will die believing.
  • Pre-teen: Experimentation and establishment
  • Teen: Refinement and application
  • Adult: Consistency and transmission
  • Senior: Re-evaluation and finality
We assume we can reshape the raw talent of people, but we are setting them up for failure. We need to take stock of the people who we work with and work to accentuate their strengths, not to try and reshape them into something they are not. We can then move them into a team of leaders and help them achieve success in that setting.

2. Nobody is the “complete leadership package” so it’s important to work in a leadership team.

We often try to be sole-practitioners. At some point we will hopefully wake-up to our need for others to get the job done. A team ALWAYS out performs an individual. Leaders have a tendency to overestimate their abilities. Humility is one of the most difficult character traits to find among Christian leaders. Arrogance will ultimately undermine a leader.

Use diagnostic tools to learn the strengths of your team. Strength-finder tools helps you to learn how to build on your strengths. The Christian leader profile by the Barna group will help you to determine what is your primary aptitude as a leader. The key is to blend all four aptitudes in your leadership team.

The best teams:
  • are small in number (4-6)
  • spend time together, know each other well
  • lean on their captain (the internal motivator for the group)
  • have a shared vision, values, passion
  • have vulnerability and communicate well
  • are people who strive to empower people to achieve the vision
3. One of the most under valued and least common skills among leaders is listening.
  • Ken Blanchard, “When we try to lead, we need to lead with our ears... You cannot listen effectively unless you are willing to have your mind changed.”
  • If you want to solve problems you’ve got to listen. Many leaders think leadership is telling other people what to do instead of gathering as much intelligence as possible for the people with whom we work. Consistently listening shows our humility and respect for others.
  • Lou Holtz said, “I never learned anything by talking.”
  • Bad listening leads to bad leadership. Not listening undermines creativity and destroys enthusiasm. We need to listen, think, and then decide.
  • Can you repeat back to others their message so that you can seek clarification? Do you see the value their message has for your goals? Do the people who work with you feel safe about telling you what is on their mind?
4. Leaders must master conflict and confrontation.

John Townsend, “conflict is simply one of the realities of leadership... every leader must assume it will occur and be prepared for it.”

We cannot avoid conflict so we must expect, accept, and address. We must normalize it as a reality we will experience.

Some action points when dealing with conflict:
  • Seize the initiative: Be the one that gets the ball rolling when you see it.
  • Do your homework: Know the facts on all sides.
  • Position yourself as a friend, not a foe to those involved. Avoid the fight or flight syndrome. The brain is always trying to determine if what it is encountering is friend or foe material. You need to avoid putting people into an adversarial position. When threatened we go into defensive mode.
  • Ask clarifying questions and listen to what is said. Be open to having your mind changed.
  • Seek a win-win outcome for everyone. Sometimes you need to create conflict in order to root out bad behavior or get people moving.
Paraphrase from Erwin McManus, “Everywhere Paul went he found danger. Those places were probably safe before he got there. Sometimes leadership requires you to bring danger with you.”
People will not always appreciate good leadership because it is a little bit dangerous?

5. Success is helping people achieve their potential.

Barna found that most pastors have the following specific ways they gauge success. Our studies show these are the prominent standards:
  1. How many people attend the service
  2. How much money has been raised
  3. How many programs do we have
  4. How many people are on our payroll
  5. How much square feet of facility we have built
What’s wrong with this? Jesus didn’t die for any of these things! Why are these the ways we measure success? You get what you measure!!!! If these are the things we measure, then this is what we get. We get these things and wonder why our people are indistinguishable from anyone else.

Lou Holtz: He didn’t measure his success by his win-loss record. He measured success by how his players achieved greatness. Too many leaders try to be well liked. You need to push other people toward greatness because you believe others are capable of greatness.

Great leadership is not synonymous with popularity. A great leader motivates people to change the world. Vision is about change and people hate to change.

Never ask those following you to do what you are unwilling to do.

Lou Holtz: The most important thing you can do is help people see how it is in their best interest to reach the goal you are putting before them.

6. Do not accept a leadership position unless you are ready to pay a stiff price. The more significant the outcome you seek to achieve, the more substantial the price you can expect to pay.


Great leaders want the world to be right and operate at its highest level. To do this you will experience harsh criticism and face pressure. What is pressure? Pressure is having to make a decision that matters when you are not ready to do so. Pressure is very valuable for a leader because it purifies you and prepares you for a higher level of performance.

Foundations:
  • God: You only lead because you believe God called you to lead. If God hasn’t called you, don’t do it.
  • Convictions: Refuse to compromise those convictions. Be up front about what you stand for and let the chips fall where they may.
  • Family and close friends: Rely upon the help and encouragement of those close to you.
Concluding Comments:

People need to be lead. It’s not a job, it’s a calling. Your task is to commit your life, and other’s lives, toward a vision. The only vision worth committing your life to is one from God.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is great! Thanks for taking the time to post it.