Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to be an Effective Leader in an Increasingly Ineffective Culture

Most Americans would agree that our culture is in trouble. In politics, business, the family and in religious institutions, it seems that leadership is in high demand but short supply. Our culture is drifting and has no real direction. Our leaders seems to be drifting right along with the culture as they bounce back and forth between various ideas and concepts.

Though we may not be able to "solve" our cultural crisis, churches can provide leadership that will steer us out of the mire and back onto solid footing. If you want to become an effective leader in an increasingly ineffective culture, consider these important concepts.

1. An effective leader has an effective strategy.

A. Effective strategy includes strategic thinking that has a focus on achievable goals. Two to four goals are the maximum a leader can actually focus on at any one time.

B. Effective strategy includes strategic actions that are designed to fulfill the goals. Eliminate as many activities as possible that don’t fulfill the goals so that time, energy and resources can be used to effectively achieve the goals.

C. Effective strategy includes creating strategic partnerships that provide the resources necessary to accomplish the goals in ways that also benefit the partners. Resources include people, money, training events, scheduling priorities, facilities, etc. As effective leaders work with their partners, they find out what the partners’ goals are and focus their efforts on the particular goals that are mutually beneficial to both parties.

2. An effective leader utilizes effective communication of his or her strategy & how it is being fulfilled.

A. If leaders don’t communicate their strategy, people cannot help accomplish the goals that flow from it.
* Use print communication for older people.
* Use electronic media for younger people.
* Communicate frequently, but in a concise way.

B. Use communication to focus on people, not programs.
* Tell the audience what specific people are doing to meet the goals of the strategy.
* Explain why those people are taking those particular steps toward fulfilling the strategy.
* Tell the audience how they can help those people keep doing what they are doing to fulfill the strategy.

3. An effective leader knows how to do effective team building.

A. Effective leaders develop relationships with all the team members. The better a leader knows the team members as individuals, the stronger the team will be.

B. Effective leaders invest in all the team members. Remember their special days. Give credit when due. Praise them publicly. Invest in their training with both time and money.

C. Effective leaders empower all the team members to fulfill the strategies. Let team members do their job with as little interference as possible. Give team members authority to allocate resources to accomplish their part of the strategy.

D. Hold all the team members accountable to the strategy.
* Meet regularly as a team and ask for printed reports of how their actions have been meeting the goals of the strategy.
* If individual team members seem to be missing the target, meet with them privately to help them understand how to adjust their actions.
* If team members need additional skills or training to meet the goals, help them receive that training.

(This material was developed out of Terry Dorsett's studies for his Doctor of Ministry degree in Administration.)


  1. Looking for practical ways to put some of the principles in this blog post into action? Purchase my book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church. The first part of the book explains why bivocational ministry is biblical, normal and missional. The second part of the book explains how to mobilize the laity to do high level ministry in a team setting with the pastor so that the church can be effective in reaching its community for Christ.
    The book is published by Crossbooks and you can buy the book directly from them at:

    The book is also available on, Barnes and and a many other online bookstores.
    If you live in Central Vermont, you can purchase a copy at the Faith Community Church in Barre, VT.