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“Duncan. Let me tell you your new job description…”

I have a friend called Tim. He’s is one of the smartest leaders I know. He’s led large staff teams in one of the biggest churches in the world and is now a consultant that helps leaders from both church world and the marketplace get better.

When Tim sits you down for a coffee and gives you a new set of marching orders – you’d do well to sit up and listen.

“I have 3 things that you need to focus on Duncan. And if you do these 3 things well, not only will you thrive as a leader but so will your team.”

I was all ears…

Here’s what he said. (And by the way, here’s what I am spending most of my leadership energy on this year…)

1. Build Trust With Your Main Leadership Team

You often hear Gary Linekar on Match Of The Day talking about the importance of goalkeepers ‘trusting’ their defenders. He’s talking about ‘predictive trust’ here. The keeper instinctively predicts what the defender is going to do in any given play.

But I am talking about a different kind of trust. I am talking about the kind of trust in a team that only comes from vulnerability. You see this kind of trust when leaders can easily say to their teams, “I’m stuck with this, can you help?” Or “I think I made a mistake.” Or “Be honest, what it like working on the other side of me?” Or maybe the most powerful vulnerability statement of them all, “I’m really sorry.”

When a leader can be vulnerable and show who they really are, warts and all, it creates a dynamic that is invaluable. In my experience, if we can’t build trust in our teams through the vulnerability, the ceiling for our success is very low.

Spend 3 minutes right now listening to Simon Sinek  tell a fun & personal story of what trust actually looks like in a team and how it inadvertently increases productivity.

Maybe this year we should spend less time focusing on the performance of our teams and more time building the kind of ‘vulnerability based trust’ that Sinek found that day at the Four Seasons Hotel.

“Instead of asking: how can I get the most out of my team? Maybe the better question is: what kind of environment can I create where people can work at their natural best?” (Simon Sinek)

2. Have Great Meetings

I worry sometimes that my gravestone will read: Here lies Duncan Banks. Gone to another meeting.

Like them or not, much of our leadership happens in meetings. As leadership guru Patrick Lencioni says, “Get them right and the rewards are enormous. Higher morale, faster and better decisions, and inevitably, greater results.”

I guess the opposite is also true. Get them wrong and people walk out of your meeting bored and frustrated saying things like, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.” Or, “We could have easily done that in an email.”

We’ve all sat though those kinds of meetings (and maybe even led a few ourselves.)

I’m not advocating we stop having meetings in 2024. Let’s just resolve to make them better.

Here’s how…

If the feedback is that your meetings are boring maybe you need to be a bit more Ted Lasso. The main character of Apple TV’s big hit was a genius at meetings with his team. Every meeting was an event with a sense of occasion and anticipation. They were dramatic not predictable. He even took his meetings off-site at times to some very weird places in order to make a memorable point. And they were focused on one single agenda item. He didn’t do what many pastors do and put everything on the agenda so that nothing on the agenda seems important.

Maybe boring meetings aren’t your problem. Maybe your meetings just don’t seem to be effective…

Here are my three quick tips for more effective meetings

  1. Be crystal clear on why you are meeting. (And let people know ahead of time). Don’t let you meeting dissolve into an unhelpful mix off the cuff presentations and un-structured discussions. Stick to the why…

  2. Make the first 5 minutes as grabby as possible. Make the start as memorable and dramatic as you can. In his book ‘Death By Meetings, Lencioni says, “If you don’t tee up your topic and dramatise why it matters, you might as well invite participants to check-out.”

  3. Start with the end in mind. What’s the hallmark of a great meeting? The quality of the coffee & donuts? Or that it finished 30 minutes early? I think its neither. In my view, the mark of a great meeting is when it ends with the kind of clarity where everyone is committed to the cause and knows exactly what to do next. So start your meeting by stating your desired outcomes so everyone knows where you are heading.

3. Make Sure Everyone is Focused on What’s most Important Right Now. It’s time to crush the silo mentality in your church.

When a commanding officer takes their troops into battle everyone has a different role to play but everyone is clear on the overall goal and the part they need to play on the team for everyone to win the fight. Nobody would think about putting their own needs above the teams goal.

So why do so many church teams work in silos? Where everyone is focussed on themselves, pulling in different directions?

Maybe its because they’ve never heard the rally cry from you about what matters most right now.

Think about this coming year at your church…

What is your single rallying cry that will break down the silos and focus everyone on what matters most? What is it that takes people above the whirlwind of their everyday tasks into focusing their energy towards achieving your one big wildly important goal?

Lots of things are important in church life. Budgets, volunteers, Sunday services, leadership pipelines, kids teams, building maintenance…

The question you need to answer for 2024 is this: What’s most important or your church right now?

When you can answer that question and make it clear to everyone on your teams that this year we have a single rallying cry… then you’ll find your people all pulling in the same direction.

How comes?

Because you’ve given them the most beautiful leadership gift of all – the gift of clarity.

BONUS CONTENT: Check out this conversation Duncan had with his friend Tim about what’s changed (and what’s NOT changed) when it comes to discipleship.

Duncan Banks

Director of the Further Faster Network

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