September 17, 2015 Carey Nieuwhof

How To Keep Leaders From Going Rogue

Most leaders fear at least two things:

  1. Leaders who go rogue
  2. Being controlled

Naturally, the two seem to stand in opposition to each other.

How do you assemble great leaders who want to lead, but keep them from going rogue?

The natural response is to try to exert some kind of control over them, which of course, is a leader repellant.

That leaves many leaders frustrated, and many churches and organizations struggling with leaders who are off mission.

There is a better solution. It’s hard work to build it, but once you have it, you’ll never want to go back.

So what’s the solution?

I think the solution is alignment.

An aligned team of great leaders is one of the greatest assets any organization or church can have.

Alignment happens when you have a team of people – from the top leadership to the newest volunteer – pulling in the same direction, not only around the same goals, but using the same strategy.

Rarely have I seen an organization more intentional about alignment than North Point Community Church in Atlanta. As the lead pastor of a strategic partner church of North Point (Connexus Church), I’ve seen how powerful alignment can be.

When other leaders approach us as a partner church, few ask us about alignment. But after they’ve spent some time with our team, they inevitably remark on the level of ownership the staff and volunteers have: How do you get hundreds of great leaders to buy in so deeply, and how come nobody seems to be wandering off with their own agenda?

To get very different people rallied around a common cause is a wonderful thing.

Above all, clarity around mission, vision, and strategy create alignment. The clearer you are, the stronger your team alignment will be. After all, if you’re not sure about your mission, vision, and strategy, your team never will be.

Initially, the clarity will have the potential to divide people. That’s simply what clarity does. Some might leave. Some might step back. But that’s okay.

Because ultimately, the clarity you bring around your mission, vision, and strategy will unite your team far more deeply than it ever divided it.

An aligned team, quite simply, is a better team.

Here are five benefits to working in an aligned organization:

  1. Alignment creates a badly needed dividing line.

Being everything to everyone is pretty much the same as being nothing to everyone.

Few organizations struggle with this more than the church. Alignment forces you to be about a few defined things rather than about everything (aka nothing).

Once you choose the things you are going to do and align around them, the people who want you to be about everything will sometimes leave, but that’s okay.

Being aligned almost always means you will accomplish more.

  1. Alignment forces out personal agendas.

I learned this early on from Andy Stanley.

When the organization’s agenda becomes clear and the main priority for everyone, it forces out competing personal agendas.

Everything from politics to selfish personal goals gets squeezed out.

Why does alignment do this? Well, alignment forces out personal agendas because leaders commit to something bigger than themselves.

  1. Alignment does not mean full agreement. Instead, it means full focus.

Critics of alignment say that alignment means you snuff out independent thought and, in its extreme form, creates a culture of yes people. I disagree.

Most high capacity leaders actually want to work in an environment that is going to produce results.

Alignment around key objectives does that.

Alignment does not mean full agreement; it means full focus.

  1. Alignment removes all excuses.

We’ve had several staff join our team who used to be part of other, less-aligned organizations.

Within a year, they had the same experience I did once we got our teams fully aligned: all our excuses for a lack of progress disappear.

You can’t blame anyone else because everyone actually supports you and your agenda—because there is only one agenda.

This allows you to realize your potential, but the excuses you used to make for lack of results are gone. And church leaders can be notorious excuse-makers.

  1. Alignment allows you to harness more creativity, not less.

Counterintuitively, having a common mission and strategy means that your team can harness greater – not lesser – creativity.

Because you agree on direction and priorities, you spend significant time getting creative about implementing your vision.

You no longer waste hours debating what to do. Instead, you can spend hours getting better at what you’ve agreed you’ll do.

 

Those are the benefits I’ve experienced having an aligned team.

If you’re looking to learn more on alignment, make sure you check out this great reading list from our friends at Orange. It has a leadership section that will take you deeper on building world-class teams and organizations. And best yet, the list is free.

What are you learning about team alignment? Leave a comment!

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Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey is the Lead Pastor of Connexus Church—a growing multi-campus church north of Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Ministries. Prior to starting Connexus, Carey served for 12 years in a mainline church, transitioning three small congregations into a single, rapidly-growing church. He writes one of the most widely read Christian leadership blogs today at www.careynieuwhof.com and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. Carey speaks to North American and global leaders about leadership, change and parenting. Carey is the author of "Leading Change Without Losing It" and co-author of "Parenting Beyond Your Capacity". He and his wife Toni live near Barrie, Ontario, and have two sons.
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