Everything changed during an Arrow Emerging Leaders Program intensive …
I was Youth Pastor at a church of 4,500 people - the second largest baptist church in Australia. Leading a team of 50 adult volunteers. Coordinating a Friday Night Youth program that averaged 160 teens every week. Pioneering a Sunday morning youth church called YC that was run for teens, by teens with more than 100 teens attending every week. Raising up more than 50 teen leaders.
I breathed deeply. I was in Melbourne at this intensive, lying down on the ground with my eyes closed during a session where we had space for contemplation. As I pondered everything I was doing - leading, preaching, counselling, administration, event management and more - I had no idea that in the next ten minutes I would have a life-changing revelation that I'll never forget.
The previous 18 months had been a journey of discovery as I led a flourishing youth ministry at a growing church. But like many leaders, I looked at the competent and passionate people I was leading and wondered why it was so hard to make progress? Within the youth ministry I felt like we were trying to do many non-essential things rather than a few significant things and that, if I was honest, we weren't making a significant impact compared to our dreams and potential. I realised I needed a fresh vision for the ministry as part of the church, a better understanding of how the core behaviours of the church were outworked in the ministry and a healthy and functional leadership team for the youth ministry. It was at this point that I came across Patrick Lencioni’s book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’.
I read it in one night.
Then I got hold of his book ‘The Advantage’ and spent a month absorbing it, re-reading it and then studying my notes again. In short, all of the things I was grappling with in the youth ministry were wrapped up in confusion and a lack of alignment. As I read Lencioni’s principles of organisational health I learned the key to a great organisation. Bad, average and even good organisations are riddled with confusion and a lack of alignment. But great organisations have:
So there I was in Melbourne at the leadership intensive. I was six months into implementing Lencioni's principles of organisational health in youth ministry and I was loving every minute of it. We were building a cohesive leadership team and we finally had clarity around the vision, core behaviours, strategic anchors and priorities for youth ministry! All of a sudden though, as I lay there, I saw my life 30 years down the track.
There were two paths.
Up to that point I thought my role was to lead great organisations or to be part of great organisations. To be up front in prominent leadership roles in larger and larger organisations. That was one path.
But for the first time, I saw another. It occurred to me that my greatest strength was actually to get beside leaders and help them build great organisations. To choose behind the scenes over prominence. The role of trainer and advisor over point leader. Somewhere in my heart I knew the burden would be lighter, the wins sweeter and the overall impact - greater. So I decided then and there to pursue a life of helping other leaders to build great organisations.
What is a great organisation? A great organisation provides its clients, customers or congregation with a product, service or experience that exceeds their expectations. It also provides its employees or volunteers with an opportunity to fulfil their individual purpose and reach their potential. A great organisation is led by a point leader and leadership team who know and live out the vision, core behaviours and strategic anchors of the organisation and are courageous enough to embrace short term pain in exchange for long term progress.
Great organisations are few and far between.
Fast forward one year from the leadership intensive and I was at a crossroads. What had started as a seed of an idea in my heart had now grown into something that was fully formed. I had taken the time and used the tools at my disposal to answer the six questions of clarity for my own organisation (if you want to see what we mean by clarity, check out ‘our six questions’ to read our vision, core behaviours, strategic anchors and priorities for this year).
My vision and passion for great organisations was now more clearly articulated as a vision to fill the world with great organisations that build the church. I decided to step out and pioneer Clarity. Ever since that decision, I have had the privilege to help leaders build great organisations by training and consulting on forming healthy teams, developing new business, running meetings that actually work and creating clarity.
When it comes to building great organisations, it's like forming a healthy team. As Patrick Lencioni says:
"It is both possible and remarkably simple. But it is painfully difficult."
We are determined to help leaders through the painfully difficult process to get to the other side:
A great organisation.