July 5, 2018 Tony Morgan

How to Increase Your Leadership Capacity | Episode 48 | The Unstuck Podcast

When You’re a Leader of Leaders, You Must Know How to Identify and Grow Both Your Own and Your Team’s Leadership Capacities

While it’s not something we like to admit, at some point we have to face the facts: God did not create everyone to be a leader. And for those of us who are leaders, we are gifted to lead in various capacities. However, God gives us opportunities to grow and stretch our leadership abilities.

In this week’s episode, Amy Anderson and I explain how to identify, label and increase your staff’s leadership capacities.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How God gifts different people in leadership

  • Practical ways to define people’s various leadership capacities

  • How to stretch and grow your and your staff’s leadership abilities

Join the Conversation:

Do you have more questions about identifying or filling the gaps in your church’s leadership? Continue the conversation in the comments below or on social media using #unstuckchurch. We look forward to hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this episode of The Unstuck Church Podcast, subscribe for more here:



Google Play



Podcast Transcript

Tony Morgan: 00:00

I’d like to take a minute before we get into the episode to invite you to join me this Fall for one of our new Leadership Coaching Networks. Here’s why I do these: Everybody needs an outside set of eyes to help them take their next steps in their leadership. I mean, even champion athletes have coaches. That’s why we have three network topics this fall, including The Unstuck Church, Unstuck Multisite and the brand new Unstuck Teams will be reviewing applications for these networks now through August 23rd, and you can learn more at theunstuckgroup.com/coaching.

Amy Anderson: 00:50

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast. I’m Amy Anderson. And I’m here with Tony Morgan. And each week we share a conversation our team’s been having about getting churches unstuck. And this week we’ve been talking a lot about leadership capacity on teams. Um, so Tony, let me just kick this off with a question for you. Why do you think it’s important for leaders to determine the leadership capacity

Amy Anderson: 01:08

staff members that are on their team?

Tony Morgan: 01:11

Yeah, so for me, I think this is actually just an extension of Paul’s teaching from 1 Corinthians when he talks about the different parts of the body, and the great thing is when all the parts come together and play their part, they have… the body is healthier, and it’s in, in our case, the body of Christ is having a bigger impact, a bigger Kingdom impact. So trying to, trying to look for that unique gifting, that unique wiring, making sure everybody’s operating around their strengths. That’s essential, but here’s what we have found, and I actually think there’s a basis for this, too. If we look in scripture that some people have leadership gift and some don’t, but also God gives some of us different leadership capacities as well. And because of that, not only do we have to determine do we have leaders in leadership roles.

Tony Morgan: 02:03

We have to determine: Do we have the leadership right? Leadership capacity in the right leadership roles as well. And the good news is if we get this right, the staff members on our team, they’re going to be more fulfilled. They’re going to be more productive. They’re going to be operating in their areas of strength and the good news for our team is the team will be healthier. It’s going to be more capable of delivering results, but the reverse is true as well. When we have people that may have the leadership gifts, but they don’t have the leadership capacity for the role that we’re hoping that they’re going to fulfill. They are challenged, they’re unfulfilled, they’re, they’re strained in trying to perform that function and that team is not as healthy. And so that’s why I think it’s important for us not only to look at does somebody have the leadership gift, but also trying to determine do they also have the right leadership capacity?

Amy Anderson: 03:00

Yeah. Just a quick sidebar. I think, Tony, when we were talking about this a little bit more in depth, the thing that really stood out to me is that first question you asked is do they have the leadership gift? Because I think that’s been so highlighted, especially in the church world the past 20 years, but this, that recognition that not everybody has it, and then we get into capacities. So um, so in your book, “The Unstuck Church”, you wrote about the different levels of leadership capacity, and you described them as tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. Just unpack that for us.

Tony Morgan: 03:31

Yeah. So this is gonna sound a little familiar if you’re, if you’re a Bible reader because that, that concept of leaders of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands of course comes from exodus 18. This is the coaching Jethro gave to Moses to, I mean Moses was getting overwhelmed in his leadership responsibility, and Jethro indicated you have to find some other capable leaders, and it was actually Jethro that identified these different levels of leadership capacity that would be required. I’ve teased that out a little bit though, to give a little bit more description beyond just the number of people. So as an example, when I see in a leader of tens is primarily they’re leading by example. In other words, they’re modeling for others. This is the way we do things around here, this, this is the way things should be done. But the challenge with leaders of tens is even though they’re modeling, and they’re leading by example, they’re still doing almost all the work and as a result of that, ultimately that becomes a lid to their leadership unless they take a next step and the next step is to become this leader of fifties and what distinguishes a leader of fifties is they learn how to lead other people primarily by delegating tasks to other people and other words.

Tony Morgan: 04:53

Now they’re starting to share the workload they’re giving work away to other people, and this is a good thing because more can get done in this way because they’re including other people in the effort. But the key here is they become team builders. So rather than me doing the work myself, I’m building teams so that other people can share the workload. But again, the challenge is even if you’re building teams through others and you’re delegating tasks. What I have found is when you delegate, and by the way delegation is a good leadership skill, you need to delegate well, but the challenge with leaving leadership at delegation is this. You assign the task. Sometimes you have to show how the tasks will get completed. You let that person complete the task when the task is completed, you check up on them to make sure they did a good job, and then they want another task and because of that, there is a limit to the amount of work that you can.

Tony Morgan: 05:57

When you stop at delegation, when you stop at team building, and that’s to go to the next, you have to go to the next level of leadership which is this leader of hundreds and the key difference here is you’re leading. You’re really empowering other leaders and so by empowering others, you’re allowing them to make decisions. You’re allowing them to take responsibility and they are an essence taking on the role of accomplishing, in our case, the Churches’ mission and vision. So you’re giving decision making away. That’s the key thing for leaders of hundreds and instead of a hands on role a year, raising up other leaders and powering them to execute the ministry strategy. And the key thing is you’re creating a framework for other leaders to begin making decisions and as a result of that, every decision as in coming back to you and as a result of that, your leadership influence increases and the amount of impact that your leadership will have will also increase as well, but there is a fourth step.

Tony Morgan: 07:06

It’s that leader of thousands, and this is the leader that’s leading primarily through the vision. They catalyze a movement around a single focused purpose and strategy, and what’s really distinctive about this person as they can bring a global perspective that encompasses every area of the ministry and so not only are they concerned about what’s happening in their specific ministry area, they have this ability to step back and look more globally at what’s happening in the church and the reality is they’re more concerned about the overall health of the church than they are. Even this specific ministry areas that they are leading. It’s not that they ignore that. It’s just that they just have a bigger perspective of what health needs to look like in the church and primarily they’re encouraging people to live that out by constantly casting vision for where the church is going next.

Amy Anderson: 08:02

Gotcha. Thanks for those descriptions. So when we talk about those four levels, if you had to narrow it down to like one clarifying question that distinguishes the different types of leadership capacities, uh, between those levels, what would those questions be?

Tony Morgan: 08:19

Yeah, so if you think about it, before someone becomes a leader of tens, they’re actually leading themself. They’re a team member. So the question is, is this person a team member, or have they, are they able to move into a team leader role? And the clarifying question to ask here is can they help others be better team members and if, if they have that capacity, that’s a good indication that they’re ready to be a leader of tens going on. Then if we’re looking at can this person lead by example, are they a team leader or do they also have the ability to lead others? Can they move into more of a coaching capacity? The clarifying question on this then is can they replicate themselves and in other words, can they reproduce who they are in their ability to build teams? Can they reproduce that in others?

Tony Morgan: 09:14

If so, they’re there ready to step up and take on a role of leading others and really moving into more of a coaching capacity. If you’re looking at the step from leading other people that coach role to leading other leaders, and this is really in churches commonly where we see a shift from lay leadership, volunteer leadership to staff leadership. The key question here is can they empower others, and this is what we talked about a moment ago, amy, is if somebody can help create a framework for a where we’re going in the future and then they have the ability to identify, coach up, raise up other leaders, empower other leaders, and really set up leaders well to make decisions and get work done through other people. That’s a good indication. They’re ready to step into this leading other leaders role, which commonly we put the title director, a, some sort of ministry director on that within our staffing structures and then that final step trying to determine whether someone’s ready to move from that director role to leading through the vision being that leader of thousands and of course commonly in, in, in the church context, we would call this person a pastor or they might be serving on the senior leadership team and our churches.

Tony Morgan: 10:38

Uh, the key, a clarifying question here is, can they influence beyond their direct reports and other words. It’s really that ability, that ability to cast vision and to catalyze a broader team, not just the folks that are working for me can folks step up to that level of leadership within our, in our church organization. And so you can see there, there, there are four different questions there. Let me just review those again, that helped lead to the four steps for the person who might be moving from team member to team leader. The clarifying question is, can they help others be better team members? If you think someone may be ready to move from team leader to coach, the key question is can they replicate themselves? The key question for the person who might move from coach to director is can they empower others? This is that if they’re ready to be a leader of leaders, can they empower others? And then the last question for the person that you think might be ready to move from director to that senior level of leadership on your team, the question is, can they influence beyond their direct reports?

Amy Anderson: 11:49

That’s really helpful. As you discussed different levels of leadership capacity, Tony.

Amy Anderson: 11:54

Um, it kind of begs the question, can leaders be developed? What are your thoughts on that?

Tony Morgan:  12:01

Uh, well, my response is yes, maybe. And the reason I say that is because I really do believe leadership is a spiritual gift, just like the other spiritual gifts. And some of us have that gift and some don’t. And then for, for whatever reason that I can’t explain it, it also really does appear that God gives different people different levels of leadership capacity. And so I think there’s just a, there’s just a god gifted allowance there that I can’t explain, but this is what I know to be true as well as I’ve seen through coaching, through mentoring, through experience. It really is possible to grow our leadership capacity. And that’s certainly been the case for me personally. So I, you know, I think, and I’ve seen this and others, I think it’s possible to grow that capacity and there certainly are some, some competencies, some skills that are going to make you more effective as a leader.

Tony Morgan: 12:58

It may not give you that, that God-gifted capacity, but you can improve your leadership. And so the key here though is you, you have to be intentional when it comes to encouraging leaders to take their next step. There is still a responsibility that you have wherever you are in the organization. There are going to be some people that are looking for you for influence. And there’s a responsibility I think we have as a church to help people maximize that leadership gift just like we do with all the other spiritual gifts. But the key here is when it comes to leadership development, you just can’t create a separate leadership development program and assume that that’s going to work. What you’re doing and leadership development has to be fully integrated to everything you’re doing today and so it needs to be integrated within your staffing structure. It needs to be integrated with your existing ministry teams. It needs to be integrated within your small group ministry or your Sunday School Class Ministry, whatever that looks like in your church. You just can’t create a separate leadership development program and assume if you plug people into this program that it’s all ultimately going to turn out higher capacity leaders.

Amy Anderson: 14:15

Right. Because what I hear you saying is that in these various levels, some people are going to hit a lid. That’s right. You should be developing them and giving them opportunities to lead at higher level so that you can understand where that lid is.

Tony Morgan: 14:26

That’s right. And primarily the reason why it’s important to do it that way, Amy, is leadership development is highly relational. I don’t know any other way to do that. Then through one on one coaching or one on team coaching, mentoring, I mean personal discipleship. That’s what’s going to help leaders take their next steps and maximizing their leadership. It’s not going to be a separate program that’s going to do that and then as you just acknowledged, in order to determine, does someone have that leadership capacity, you just can’t complete a test and determine, yeah, I have that capacity or not. It’s only going to be through watching that person live out their leadership through different experiences and that connectedness of relationship that you’re going to determine is somebody ready to take that next step of responsibility. So the key there is we have to be intentional. It has to be relational and don’t try to over program at.

Amy Anderson: 15:29

Well it sounds very what we call a practicum leadership development is really a practicum. It’s not a classroom.

Tony Morgan: 15:29

That’s right.

Amy Anderson: 15:36

It’s giving people chances to lead and in growing in those skills to delegate and empower. Any last words on this, Tony,

Tony Morgan: 15:44

How I know is that the church needs leaders just like we need people with all the other spiritual gifts and in every instance I think we want people to live out the wiring God put in them and not try to be another part of the body, so just trying to live out the strength that God put in them and when we do that together as a team, that’s when we’re going to have our greatest kingdom impact.

Amy Anderson: 16:08

Well, thank you Tony, and thanks to you, our listeners for tuning into today’s podcast. Be sure to subscribe on ITunes, Google play, or wherever you get your podcasts so that you don’t miss an episode and we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. So we invite you to join the conversation on social media using #unstuckchurch. And finally you can learn more about how the unstuck group helps churches get unstuck at theunstuckgroup.com.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.