August 8, 2018 Tony Morgan

When the Lead Pastor Sits in the Driver’s Seat | Episode 53 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

A Deeper Look Into the Pros & Cons of Being a “Driver” Leader

Do you have a driver in the driver’s seat? In Episode 47, Amy Anderson and I described the 4 types of leaders they often see on church staff teams. This week we take a deeper look into what it means to have someone wired as a “driver” serving as the lead pastor, and how it affects both that leader and the rest of the people on the team.

I also share some common blindspots for drivers, and 3 practical tips for overcoming them to lead a healthier team.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How drivers can motivate others to see results

  • What to be conscious of as a driver when leading others

  • Why surrounding yourself with complementary leaders is important

  • How to discipline yourself to become the best leader you can be

Join the Conversation:

Are you a driver who has learned to navigate the pros and cons of your leadership style? Or are you like Amy and have a lot of experience working with drivers? I would love to hear your perspective. Let’s keep the conversation going using #unstuckchurch on social media.

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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

Amy Anderson:                    00:47                       Welcome to the 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 today we’re going to talk about the impact a senior pastor has on the rest of the team when that pastor is wired up as a driver. So Tony, a few podcasts ago, we talked about this driver personality. Are you familiar with that person?

Tony Morgan:                       01:09                       Yes I am. I’m quite fond of drivers actually because you know, I am one. I feel like I’ve never been to an AA meeting, but now I feel like my name is Tony Morgan, and I’m a driver.

Amy Anderson:                    01:29                       I love drivers. Drivers are fantastic. Tony. They’re my favorite really. But let’s get right to the point because I know that’s what you drivers value. Uh, Tony. Yes, I know. Give us a quick refresher on what describes or defines a driver.

Tony Morgan:                       01:47                       All right, so we’ve talked. Well, you know our team, again, we use leading from your strengths, which I think is a great tool for staff teams and leadership teams to look at the wiring of who’s on the team and the firm leading, leading from your strengths. They would help us identify drivers tend to be faster paced versus slower paced in their primary bent is toward getting stuff done. They’re more focused on tasks, they’re more focused on the mission rather than people in relationships. Now it’s not that we don’t like people in relationships. Well that’s. Sometimes that’s true, but we are generally more focused on mission accomplishment and so mission accomplishment and faster paced. In other words, we value results and because of their faster pace, we drivers that we focus on results, we want to, we want to know the answer to the question, what; not primarily all the hows, the who’s and the why’s, what is going to be done, what are the results going to be, and the model for us is probably this, just do it or are you saying get her done.

New Speaker:                        03:02                       I just want you to know Tony, as you were going through all that, you just had a smile on your face while you’re talking about faster.

Tony Morgan:                       03:08                       Just so happy about this topic today. This is so fun.

Amy Anderson:                    03:18                       Then you started talking about people, and you got a forlorn look on your face. Alright, well we said a few weeks ago that the driver personality is a very important person to have on the senior leadership team and why is that?

Tony Morgan:                       03:26                       Yeah. The big one here is that they motivate others to deliver results and these are the leaders that get very restless if they ever sense stuckness in the church or I would go even back it up a little bit further. We tend to get restless if we, um, we, we find we’re in maintenance mode if we’re, if we find we’re just maintaining something, we’re going to get restless. These are typically visionary leaders. They’re good with big picture. Um, they, they have an orientation towards action. In other words, they want to set goals and they are disciplined about making decisions. They would. In fact, I love this. Well, again, I’m talking about myself, so I’m just saying I love myself arent I? We would rather make a bad decision than make no decision. And actually here’s a quote, this, this has been attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, but there’s some question of whether or not he actually said it, but regardless, this is just, this is just truth. Here’s the quote: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing, but the worst thing can do is nothing.” That’s what we believe as drivers. We would rather make a bad decision than make no decision for your new office. Well, I know, I know. Yeah. And since we, since we’re not sure if Teddy Roosevelt said it or not, I’m just going to say Amy Anderson said it.

New Speaker:                        05:03                       I often use the word mustangs to describe drivers. Um, and those are all pretty positive attributes that you just went through and critical to have in the senior leadership team. But because I’ve always worked for drivers throughout my whole career, my boss has always been a driver. I know that there’s also a few things as leaders need to be aware of, right? You’re not smiling anymore.

Tony Morgan:                       05:25                       I know. Yeah. So, yeah, uh, if you’re the senior pastor or the top leader in your organization, you’re going to want to pay attention to these, particularly if you have that driver personality. So here, here’s one attribute of your leadership style. You’re dominating. And the challenge here is that can be intimidating to others. And it’s because of both your personality, but it’s also because of the that you have. And so if you didn’t have that driver attribute in you, gesture, position alone can be intimidating to people, but you combine that with your driven personality and that that can be an issue for the people that you’re trying to lead. And people can, they’ll view that as being prideful. They’ll view you as being insensitive. They’ll view you as being harsh. I wish I could remember the name.

Tony Morgan:                       06:26                       My very first boss when I was came out of college, I can’t. Terse, terse was the term he used with me. Yeah, no, no, that was his name was Bob. But he was, he was providing great coaching for me even back then because this, I mean, I, this driver personality has been in, in me for years and he was just coaching me. Tony, you got to be careful. Sometimes you come across being being terse, and it’s, it’s this very attribute that we’re talking about. Um, and the impact here is people will be afraid to tell you the truth or disagree with you. They’re going to shut down, uh, in conversation and they’re going to wait for you to speak your opinion first. And I actually remember being with a senior pastor many years ago and he was communicating this frustration that he had to bring all of the ideas he had to bring all the creativity and the reason why it had gotten to that place as everybody else had been shut down in the past and they weren’t, they just weren’t free to share their opinions because of the personality of the pastor or the position or the combination of the two.

Tony Morgan:                       07:44                       So that’s the first key thing is just make sure you’re, you’re cognizant of that dominating style of leadership. The other, the other issue I think we drivers need to be cognizant of is that we can rush decision making without thinking through or understanding either the results or the consequences of the decision, particularly as it relates to people. Right? And again, because we’re so focused on the mission were so focused on results. It’s not that we don’t like people, but that’s, that’s our priority focus. Um, that’s the way God designed us. Uh, and so, uh, we just have to make sure that we’re being cognizant of the fact that when we rushed decision making is going to negatively impact people around us and it creates organizational stress. It creates complexity and the view from the top that we have is not always complete. And again, I think this actually relates back to the first style that dominating style people will not share information with you because of that.

Tony Morgan:                       08:52                       And as a result of that, you will not have a complete view of what’s happening within the organization. So you’ll have that bias for action, but you need somebody to compliment that that is going to help you kind of slow down and be a little bit more deliberate and decision making that and have some awareness of how it’s going to impact the people around you. And Amy, we’ve done this on the unstuck group. I mean even if you look at our senior leadership team, it’s split between people that have that, that bias for action. They’re trying to get the mission accomplished and you and mark and some others on our team that are really more biased towards relationship and the people side of things. And Man, when we come together, I just think that our team is so strong, so healthy because we have both of those perspectives working together and we really respect each other and the wirings that we have. And as a result of that, there’s a huge level of trust. And so when I rushed decision making, you don’t assume it’s because Tony is a bad person. No, you’re leading with the assumption that Tony wants the best for all of us, but his bias for action. And so that’s why it’s necessary for lead teams. They have these complimentary giftedness, uh, represented, uh, on their team. So, uh, those, those are a couple of key ones. Amy, anything else you think I should highlight here?

New Speaker:                        10:24                       I don’t know. Sometimes it probably goes with brushing decision making, but just a, it ties in with moving too quickly. Again, when you’re at the top of the food chain, if I can put it that way, you’re the senior leader. Uh, you’re wired for action, you just can’t, you’ve got a lot more agility than the organization does, so you just got to move with them.

Tony Morgan:                       10:44                       Yeah. Let me give you an example of that, and I think a lot of the pastors listening will relate to this. Actually, you have just listened to this podcast and now you want to make a change in leadership in your organization and so you’re going to go run and tell everybody about changes that you’re going to make or you read another book or you attend another conference. I’m only saying this because I’ve done all of these things and you run back to your team and you just start making changes and the team is still trying to carry out the mission and the initiatives that you received from the last conference that you attended. And so that is our natural tendency is because of our faster pace is to move onto the next thing before the team has had a chance to even implement and settle into the last change that we tried to initiate. So I think it’s just trying to change too quickly and again, we need other people on the team that slow us down a little bit and help us actually process change in a healthy way because it does, it does, it doesn’t do anyone any good, including US leaders that are drivers, uh, to try to a change that doesn’t actually get completed and doesn’t get integrated in an unhealthy way into the teams that we’re trying to lead.

New Speaker:                        12:01                       That’s right. Hey, let’s just bottom line this. So Tony, as a fellow driver, uh, with some of our listeners out there and someone who works with senior pastors every week, how would you summarize some advice for our drivers, senior leaders? How might they need to adjust that would actually increase their effectiveness with their team?

Tony Morgan:                       12:21                       Yeah. So let me give you three things. The first one to do is this: Let others speak first. Amy?

Amy Anderson:                    12:28                       Yes.

Tony Morgan:                       12:29                       Yes. Oh No. I was saying I was going to let you speak, but the principle is let others speak first when you. And here’s the deal. When you speak first, you can shut others down. And by the way, if your culture is one that is used to you speaking first, it will, it will take them awhile to adjust because they’re accustomed to waiting for you. You’re going to have to go through. Yes, that’s right. But the first one is what other speak first. The second one is asked questions. This is going to help to draw out the feedback, the facts that are then going to help you make better decisions as a team. And so the second one asked more questions, and the third is catch people doing right things they, they, they, uh, the people on your team need your feedback.

Tony Morgan:                       13:22                       They need you to verbalize the good things that you see them doing. And again, Amy and you’ve caught me doing not doing this. Our tendency as drivers because we’re looking for results when things are going well, it’s like, yeah, they’re going well, yeah, it’s going well. It’s only when things are not going well that we tend to verbalize things are not going well and we need to change this. And so our assumption is people understand that, that if things are going right and we’re not saying things, what things must be going right, but you don’t, you don’t feel that, do you? You actually need that, that encouragement. Yeah. You’re doing the right thing, you’re winning and does. Everybody does well, I don’t need that. But other people need that. And so the third thing is catch people doing the right things. And I’m in the past, I’ve actually, it’s crazy in those areas where we need to take a next step toward health where that’s whether that’s physical health or emotional health or relationship health or in this case leadership team, our, uh, whenever, whenever I’ve had to take a step toward health in any area of my life, I’ve actually had to start that process by getting more disciplined in whatever area of health that I was pursuing.

Tony Morgan:                       14:47                       And even in this area, this is gonna sound for someone like Amy, you’re thinking, why do you have to do this? I had to actually schedule on my calendar every Friday to write five encouragement notes because it didn’t come naturally to me to catch. Just catch people doing something and then they acknowledge that verbally in the moment. I had to begin taking a first step in this area by disciplining myself to do it. So the third thing is to catch catch people doing, doing right things. Yep.

Amy Anderson:                    15:20                       Good. Well, great words, Tony. Well, next week we’re going to turn the tables and talk to those of you who work with these wonderful driving senior leaders because you have some strengths and some adjustments that can help your pastor and your team as well, so be sure to listen in and thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. As always, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcast so that you don’t miss an episode and we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments or join the conversation on social media using #unstuckchurch. And finally, you can learn more about how the unstuck group helps churches get unstuck at

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, 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