Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meet Patrick Lencioni

Advantage: Lencioni
To lead your organization, church, or team to long-term sustainable success, you need an advantage. And Patrick Lencioni knows what it is. In his newest book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, he makes the case that organizational health will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Lencioni is bursting with high energy leadership wisdom and we’re thrilled to have him back at the Summit to train and encourage you right where you’re leading today.

Messy, Imperfect, and…Healthy
An organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent, and complete; when its management operations and culture are unified. Healthy organizations are free of politics and confusion, and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave.

In The Advantage, Lencioni takes a holistic, comprehensive approach to improving organizational health. And how does he define a healthy organization? Healthy companies are messy and imperfect. They argue, make mistakes, and try things that don’t work. But they know who they are, what they believe in, and what they’re trying to accomplish Employees want to work there, they have loyal consumers, and extremely humble leaders who know why they are there and what the organization is all about.

Fable: Business and management meet the fictional narrative
Lencioni has become the king of dealing with management issues within the context of a fable. “I thought readers would be able to relate to the characters and issues they were facing in their businesses if I wrote the books as fables,” he says. And writing fiction came easily for him. As an amateur screenwriter, he knew how to bring ideas to life by using characters and dialogue.

In The Advantage, however, Lencioni takes a U-turn from styles of his other management books. “The nature of the subject matter is too broad to fit within the context of one story,” he says. Previous books focused on more limited issues—teamwork, meetings, employee engagement.

The Vulnerable Leader
What is the first thing people can do to improve the organizational health of the company where they work? According to Lencioni, it starts with the individual and their team. “Leaders need to understand what it is to be vulnerable. Vulnerability inspires trust on the leadership team and that trust is the foundation for teamwork—one of the cornerstones of organizational health.” The concept of vulnerability has a trickle-down effect. If a leader refuses to be vulnerable, refuses to admit mistakes, shortcomings, or weaknesses, others will follow suit. “When that happens,” says Lencioni,” organizational health is impossible.”

Lencioni, a business consultant with a diverse base of clients including a mix of Fortune 500 companies, churches, the military, professional sports organizations, non-profits, and universities, speaks to thousands of leaders each year, including the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit. His most recent books are Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Tree Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty (2010), The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family (2008), and The Advantage (2012).

reposted from

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


With the growth in the workload on many pastors in the last few years, there has been an ever-increasing number of lay people ministering in church – and all-member ministry has become more of a reality. All to the good – until something goes terribly wrong, because the untrained are being entrusted with tasks they simply cannot do.

Why are we so suspicious of training in the church? There are three main reasons.

The first is that training is seen as unspiritual. The disciples never went to Bible College, we quip, and they started a church that had three thousand members in its first week or so. True, but they had three years of day by day instruction from Jesus. Paul trained those he worked with – we wouldn't have some of the letters if he hadn't seen the passing on of his wisdom and experience as crucial.

The second reason can be because, it seems to take so long. Most of us are far too busy doing the job to have time to train others to do it. And when we do delegate, they make a mess of it, so it’s obviously better to do it ourselves. Right? Wrong! In the long-term, it is much better to get ten people to do the work than to do the work of ten people.

The final reason can be the leader's insecurity. ‘What if people discover others are more gifted than me?’ ‘Will the congregation respect me less if others start doing certain aspects of my job better than I do?’ Let’s pray that both these things happen!

So how do we get on with training? The following four steps can form a framework for action:

1. Envision

The church family must be made aware of the needs and their responsibilities in relation to meeting them: workers are needed to maintain current ministries and to develop new ones. God’s plan has always been to use leaders to train His people to do the ministry – not for His people to watch the leaders do the ministry!

Perhaps a sermon series could be preached, or a series of Bible studies planned. In as many different ways as possible the congregation needs to be alerted to their biblical responsibilities. One small, practical way to envision the church in this area is to publish a ‘jobs list’. That is, a complete list of everything that is done in church life to keep its ministries going.

Add to this list tasks the church should be doing and tasks you would like it to be doing, and you have a clear indication that there is something for everyone to do! Some of the jobs can be done simply enough, but most will require an element of training, some quite extensively.

2. Recruit

Asking for volunteers can be dangerous! It often results in the wrong people volunteering. It is sometimes useful, however, to ask for volunteers on a ‘just looking’ basis – giving people an opportunity to ask questions about a particular ministry without being committed to it before they are ready.

Leaders should not be afraid, though, of making a direct approach to people they think God might be wanting to use in particular ministries. A direct, non-manipulative, request to consider being committed to a particular task is especially valuable for busy (often gifted) people. They may well never volunteer for anything but might be stirred into accepting a role by a fresh challenge. Besides, sometimes we are the last people to recognise our own gifts and need someone else to point them out to us.

One key principle to remember when we are trying to recruit people for training is never to minimise the work and commitment involved for the recruit.

3. Train

Leading in worship, teaching a children’s group, running a youth group, serving communion – it all looks so easy, until you try it. Our enthusiastic recruit must be trained. One of the most effective methods of training was created by Jesus; ‘show, tell and do’. This avoids the sterile, unreality of simply ‘reading up’ about the subject area, and overcomes the bias and idiosyncrasies of a totally subjective ‘thrown in at the deep end’ approach.

4. Review

Training needs to be ongoing. We ought always to be developing our skills and growing in grace. No one in the church family should be exempt from this need for performance evaluation followed by continuing training. This will keep us fresh, relevant and increasingly effective in God’s work. As we submit ourselves to this process, our fellow leaders will do so more readily, and so will other workers at every level of the church family.

When we review, God has the opportunity to renew.


Article first published in The Baptist Times (UK) October 2010
Stephen Gaukroger is a senior church leader in the United Kingdom, having pastored two of the largest Baptist churches and served as President of the Baptist Union. Stephen is the Founder and Director of Clarion Trust International, a Christian charity working in the UK and overseas, involved in leadership training and development, advocacy, networking and the communication of the Christian faith.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Introducing John Ortberg

reposted from

Laura Ortberg Turner is a writer, speaker, and employee of Fuller Seminary. She lives in Palo Alto with her husband and writes at

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”—Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak
When I was growing up, my favorite days were Donut Run days. Every once in a while, my dad would rouse us out of bed early in the morning with little direction–just to come downstairs quickly, to get in the car; yes, we could stay in our pajamas, yes, we could go back to bed, but only if we wanted to miss something great. We would groan in feigned exhaustion, but we knew we were in for something special. And it wasn’t just the chocolate long johns or the pink-frosted numbers, but the goodness of being with someone in our pajama-clad, bed-headed smallness. Someone who had other, important things to do but chose to be with us.

When someone has shown you tenderness of heart and great care, you will do anything for that person. You will remember their sacrifice. You will be shaped by their generosity of spirit. There is a certain tenderness of soul that a good leader must have, a way of understanding the people and dynamics around them that builds trust.

The best leaders I have ever come across aren’t the flashiest or the most well-known. They are kind and generous in spirit. They are thoughtful, humble, and committed to sharing the truth in love. They care for the hearts of the people around them.

I am especially lucky that, for me, my father has been chief among those who have cared for my heart.

As I grew up, Donut Runs morphed into lunches and long drives, conversations about career and the future, and a new kind of friendship. Our relationship has gone this way not because my dad has continued to lead me (which, now that I am an adult, is exactly what he shouldn’t be doing), but because he has shown me how to lead myself.

Love yourself, encourage yourself, and hold yourself to high standards, he has told us.

Sometimes we still go get donuts together on Saturday mornings at our local Krispy Kreme. And there are moments when, sitting across the table from each other, I can hardly believe my gratitude at the example of this imperfect, kindhearted, vulnerable person. It has been said that people will walk through fire for a vulnerable leader, and it is true. But we will also walk through life with them. Love yourself, encourage yourself, hold yourself to high standards. Learn from those who love fiercely and sacrificially. And then, go and do likewise.