Keynote/workshop: Building a healthy Christian school board and leadership team
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  • Jonno White

Keynote/workshop: Building a healthy Christian school board and leadership team



What's the most important goal for your Christian school in the next five years? The non-negotiable outcome. THAT'S the reason you need to invest in building a healthy board and leadership team.

Put simply, healthy Christian school boards and leadership teams will hit and exceed their most important KPIs.

And unhealthy Christian school boards and leadership teams won't.

Healthy teams win. Healthy teams score. Healthy teams achieve.

At the end of the day, that's how you measure the impact of any team. In basketball, football... or Christian education. But, how do you do it?

Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team provides a framework for Christian school boards and leadership teams to get healthy so they can get results and make a difference in more children's lives.

1. Vulnerability

What's the atmosphere in your boardroom or leadership team meetings? Are people comfortable admitting their weaknesses? Disagreeing with each other? Asking for help?

Vulnerability-trust is the bedrock of healthy teams. If your board and leadership team isn't vulnerable, then stop here. Everything else about healthy teams (including achieving results) is built on establishing vulnerability.

2. Healthy conflict

Principals and chairs, are you surrounded by twits? No, you're not. You are surrounded by board members and leadership team members who are capable, passionate and eager to contribute.

The good news—healthy conflict through robust discussions about ideas and issues without character assassination means you and the brilliant people around you will make the best decisions possible.

The bad news—if your team doesn't know how to engage in healthy conflict and people sit quietly nodding their heads while inwardly rolling their eyes, then it's not about people not feeling like they get to help with the team. There's more at stake here. Your team won't make the best decisions possible and you may end up at a dead-end as an organisation because someone in your team didn't feel comfortable speaking up to say, "Hmm... I don't like that idea because what if 'x' happens?"

3. Commitment

Guess what? If you want people to buy in, you need to let them weigh in. Back to number two, healthy conflict, if people don't feel comfortable disagreeing and engaging in robust discussions, then they're not going to be fully committed to your team's decisions.

Instead of walking away having cleared the air about their disagreements and ready to pass on the next steps to their direct reports and implement the team's decisions through the organisation, they'll walk away considering their dilemma of how to honour their leader without overcommitting to a plan they think will probably change or fail anyway.

4. Accountability

Why is it so hard to hold people accountable? Accountability is like lifting weights. Yes, holding people accountable can be heavy work—for you and for the people you're holding accountable. But it's only possible if you've established the weight of responsibility.

So often, as leaders we make the mistake of telling someone, 'This role is 25kg. You'll be able to do it, in face you'll be great. You're so strong. I believe in you'. So much of that is true. But what happens if six months into the role we come and put 150kg on the bar and say, 'Come on! Lift it just like you promised you would'?

What happens is people get frustrated. They understandably feel like they're being held accountable for more than they agreed to be responsible for. Back to number three, commitment. This is why commitment is so important. The 'weight' someone has committed to is the 'weight' you'll be able to hold them accountable to... no more.

5. Results

Ahh... the step everyone really wants. You're reading this, more than likely, because there's some result that's eluding you. How can we grow our enrolments? Why do we have such high staff turnover? What would we need to do to finally open that second campus? Now we're at the stage we're it's worth discussing results.

When you have a vulnerable team, engaging in healthy conflict, committed to the same direction and decisions and holding one another accountable, guess what?

You'll start seeing results.

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