How’s Your Senior Leadership Team Doing?

Like Us
article_images/senior1_325930854.jpg

Surprising insight from Leadership Network on the health and effectiveness of senior leadership teams.

During the first half of 2012, we invited churches from around the world to assess their senior leadership team for free. Nearly 600 people representing leadership teams at 145 churches took us up on the offer – and the results provided some surprising insights. In our first report from the study Searching for Strong Senior Leadership Teams: What 145 Church Teams Told Us, which is available via free download here, we list the top 10 findings to help senior leadership teams see how they compare to teams at other churches, then share 7 targeted, practical steps leaders can take to grow their teams. 

At end of this article you’re warmly invited to participate in a new wave of the study (free). You’re also welcome to the read the full report for all 10 findings, but here is a peek at the two we think are most interesting:

First, although team members listed “coordinating leadership activities” and “making critical, church-wide decisions” as the most important purposes of their teams, their teams actually spend less than half their time on these activities.

In senior leadership team meetings, other tasks, however worthwhile, may be detracting or distracting from the group’s primary purposes. For example, one team reported spending up to “half our time reviewing weekend services,” while another spends more than half their time in “general discussion.” One team said that 40% of their time is “wasted on non-essential/surface issues,” while another said it spends half their meeting time “listening to our senior leader tell us what us what’s going on.” Yet another church said they spend a third of their meeting time “solving problems.”  All of this leads us to wonder if those problems truly require the entire team’s involvement, or whether the conversations involve just a couple of people while others wait idly.

This participant feedback suggests that teams could clarify their primary purposes, as well as assess and grow in their awareness of what they are actually doing with their time. If churches desire senior leadership teams who can coordinate leadership activities and make critical, church-wide decisions, they must spend their time doing so.  Teams struggling in this area may benefit from looking at whether they’re trying to do too much, and/or whether they can assign some of their tasks to other teams or individuals.

Second, the average team in our survey had six members – but teams ranged in size from three to 18.  More interesting, when we asked members of the same team how many people were on their team, they too often gave different numbers! Roughly two-thirds of the churches (at least 63%) gave differing numbers, which indicates there’s a lack of clarity regarding who is on the team and who isn’t. Of course, this makes becoming an effective team very difficult.

In addition to confusion surrounding the number of people on the teams surveyed, a surprising number of teams included 10 or more people. This also makes effective teamwork difficult, because the larger a team becomes, the more challenges it faces in managing information, coordinating activities, developing high-trust relationships, and communicating effectively.

Due to the prevalence of confusion regarding team membership, we encourage every team to take some time to clarify who is part of the senior leadership team and who is not. And for the large teams, we suggest narrowing the team’s membership to facilitate discussion, decision making, relationship building, and coordination.

To download the FREE report with all 10 findings and practical tips, each with commentary and examples, click hereIf you weren’t able to participate last year but wish to benefit from this free assessment, we’re opening the assessment once more, but only through the end of February 2013.  To learn more or to sign up your team for the assessment, click here 

Ryan Hartwig loves Jesus and the local church, and his heart beats for discipleship. He grew up in a Pastor’s home, married a Pastor’s daughter, and has spent his entire life participating in the life of the local church. He has volunteered leading youth ministry, Bible studies and small groups, mission trips, and college ministry from my teen years to today. Visit Ryan Hartwig at www.ryanhartwig.com.
 
Warren Bird oversees the research division of Leadership Network, has co-authored 24 books, and is a frequent contributor to Outreach magazine. More from Warren Bird or visit Warren at warrenbird.com/.
Please Note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, uncivil and off-topic. Read a detailed description of our Comments Policy.