Fb Share

It’s hard to find an “exec” these days...well, at least not like when powerful men and women made powerful decisions. You know, folks like Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie. Somewhere along the way that style seems to have lost its popularity, particularly in churches. Maybe it’s a good thing...the jury is still out. 

For a time, I had the exquisite learning experience of coaching top Silicon Valley CEOs on ways to stand and deliver when they had to give talks at conferences, or speak to stakeholders during quarterly reports, etc.  

It was easy. I had been coaching pastors forever, and been an upfront leader and performer for years, and this was exactly the same thing—help them get attention, keep attention, and evoke trustworthiness. 

BUT, I learned something big—execs don't always "exec."

No self-respecting CEO wants to make any kind of a decision without having voluminous amounts of data from his colleagues. Consequently, when I was dealing with the “big” chief, every other “C Level” executive was in the room and quick to correct misinformation. Legal, technical, marketing, finance...they were all there. I was surprised to find that the person at the top was often just a mouthpiece for the real expertise of those under him or her.

There certainly isn’t anything wrong with that—good decisions usually emerge from good information. Sometimes, though the CEO couldn't even break a tie effectively. 

Don't we still need leaders capable of the individual chutzpah to make unpopular decisions?

Here are two issues:

First, there are not many clearly unique leaders (execs) these days. In my work in churches, for example, I experience many people who give directions to other people, but they don’t always exhibit good leadership. What’s that? Well, this short list would at least help: 

A humble command (never understated, but never overblown)

A non-anxious presence (everything that goes wrong doesn't spell the end of the world)

A willingness to fail (a basic recognition that not everything works...ever)

Short of those qualities (and, yes, I’m sure you can think of many more), no one can lead. They can hire, fire, flail, and look self-important, but they are rarely leaders.

Second, there seems to be a downturn in what we used to call “character” in our execs. Understanding that this is hard to define, one organization that teaches kids to be in collaboration instead of bullying each other lists them as:


Comment: Do we find leaders in the church who never “sidebar” inappropriately with a small group of people, or say one thing when they really mean another?  


Comment: Do some leaders simply indulge those they work with or do they genuinely want their input and partnership? Is their any mutuality in their respect or is it opportunistic and one-sided? 


Comment: Do most leaders take responsibility for their actions, or do they scold those who they target as their sacrificial lambs? 


Comment: Do some leaders fain fairness just to encourage loyalty, or are they truly fair? Do they allow themselves to be judged by the same standards as everyone else?


Comment: Is the leader's caring consistent or just well-timed? Do they always have an openness to the vicissitudes of those around them? 


Comment: Does the leader seek out, support, and encourage other pastors in their community, or do they focus only on their own church and its strengths and weaknesses? 

Respect authority

Comment: Does the leader criticize their own denomination constantly? Do they demean the decisions and foibles of their board of elders? 

Maybe it's just me. I see leaders, I'm just struggling to see leadership. 



User Comments – Give us your opinion!
Leading from the Lion's Den
Ten tactics from Proverbs to help you manage conflict

This rapid-fire list of concepts and verses will arm you with things to do when conflict takes root in your church. (Tom Harper at Church Central Turnaround 20/20)

Elmer Towns: The next big church turnaround method

"Life groups are changing today's church." (From Church Central's Turnaround 20/20 summit in 2012)

John Maxwell launches a prayer meeting

When he was a pastor in San Diego, Maxwell went against the wishes of his board and started a new prayer ministry that helped the church grow. Here's how he did it. (Elmer Towns at Church Central Turnaround 20/20)

Do some churches do more harm than good?

When a church doesn't make disciples, its value to the Kingdom is questionable. (Aubrey Malphurs leading a training session for the Society for Church Consulting.)

How weaknesses help leaders win spiritual battles
Chuck Lawless, Dan Reeves and John Ewart talk about the power of brokenness in fighting Satan in a church turnaround situation. We all have weaknesses that the enemy is very aware of, and when we direct our fear toward God rather than him, we …
Bandero Road Church's 7 'how we live together' statements

Will Mancini discusses how this church defines what a disciple should look like in their congregation. (From Church Central Turnaround 20/20)

Strategies for becoming multicultural

Blended worship, multigenerational, multilingual. Whatever you do, be fluid, said Jan Paron. "What worked last year may not work this year." (From Church Central Turnaround 20/20)

How I became the county pastor

You think you're busy? Melissa Pratt tells how she adopted the community and became its chaplain.

» View More Videos