July 9, 2019 Tony Morgan

It Doesn’t Just Happen: 9 Strategies for Creating a Leadership Development Culture

If you do not have an intentional plan in place to develop leaders, it’s time to take action.

A while back, one of my team members attended the Chick-fil-A Summit where they got to hear Mac Lake talk about leadership development. 

This was back in 2013. But if I didn’t mention that, you probably wouldn’t guess it’s been that long after reading the list. We’re hearing all the time from churches of all sizes how difficult it is for pastors to develop leaders. (If this gives you any idea, my team sends a newsletter out each month just about leadership development and it’s one of the most popular content subscriptions we offer.) 

Creating a leadership development culture is an area where I see few churches taking initiative. So, I want to share with you the 9 principles that Mac communicated at that summit. They are still incredibly relevant.

1. Build Culture Not Leaders. 

Most churches have a leadership deficiency because they haven’t taken the time to build a culture of development. People don’t randomly show up in the leadership pipeline—it requires intentionality. 

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the greatest responsibility of a senior leader is to develop the culture of the organization. 

When your team understands your desired wins and values, you can empower leaders to make decisions with the confidence that everyone is moving in the right (and same) direction.

Amy and I recorded a podcast episode a few months back that touches on a few ways to develop a leadership culture. Listen here. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the greatest responsibility of a senior leader is to develop the culture of the organization. @tonymorganlive Click To Tweet

2. Model Leadership Development from the Executive Level. 

The values of the leader become the values of the organization. 

I had a conversation a while back with the lead pastor of Friends Church in Yorba Linda, CA because of the incredible culture he’s built at his church. You can watch here.

3. State Clear Expectations for Every Staff Leader. 

If a team member isn’t certain of their responsibilities, not only does something significant fall through the cracks but it prevents someone else from being able to do their job well.

Your team should know that they are expected to develop leaders. By communicating clear expectations and addressing this from the beginning, you are setting them up for success. 

4. Eliminate Excuses. 

If you think you don’t have the time to develop leaders, that’s a good sign you actually do need more leaders to delegate some of your “doing.” 

If you aren’t sure how to develop leaders, invest in some resources that will help you. 

If you think you have enough leaders, take note that this is a mindset that will always hinder growth. 

If you think no one is ready to be developed, Jesus searched for people who were willing.

5. Align the Language and Levels of Your Leadership Pipeline. 

Based on what we’ve seen, there’s a strong correlation between a clear path and healthy growth. 

By aligning the levels and language, it brings clarity to your system for development. If there is a clear pathway for growth, it’s easy to determine where the pipeline gets clogged and needs improvement.

6. Build a Structure that Enhances Relational Leadership Development. 

If your team feels appreciated and celebrated, your leadership development will have greater impact when your leaders realize that you are emotionally invested in them.

Ask how you can pray for them, take your team to lunch, ask them about their family and their interests, encourage them. These people are key for a successful ministry, and it’s important to communicate they are valued.

7. Develop for Vision, Not for Need. 

Filling just for present needs is short-sighted leadership. This mindset leads to a revolving door of leaders. Filling just for present needs is short-sighted leadership. This mindset leads to a revolving door of leaders. @tonymorganlive Click To Tweet

8. Align Your System to Synergize Time, Energy and Resources. 

Too many churches are operating in ministry silos. (I wrote a whole eBook on ministry silos. It’s now available in the Complete Resource Bundle in The Unstuck Group’s online store.)

9. Define Your Leadership Development Strategy and Implement It Into Your System. 

As leaders, I believe we’re called to raise up other leaders in our churches and equip them to do ministry. 

It’s time to move on from talking about leadership development. You need to be intentional about taking action. 

Because I see so many leaders struggling with this, I want to recommend one of our resources to you—Leading an Unstuck Church Online Course. 

Lesson 5 is specifically designed to walk you through discussions and exercises to help you develop more leaders in your church, but there are actually 11 more lessons that walk you through the common issues we see in the church. From enhancing the weekend experience, to staffing for growth to increasing volunteer engagement, it helps start the conversations you need to be having. 


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Tony Morgan

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 Pastors.com.