Breaking Through Your Leadership Lid

If you lead long enough, eventually you’re going to hit a leadership lid. It happens when you reach your capacity in a particular area, and the good news is there may be a solution. But what you do next has the potential to make or break your leadership future. Ignore it, deny it, make excuses about it, or refuse to acknowledge and deal with it and you’ll undermine your impact. Face reality and you’ll create a window of opportunity to grow.

You know you’ve hit a leadership lid when…

  • The ministry you’re leading has stagnated or is declining.
  • The other ministries in the church are growing at a faster pace than the area you are responsible for.
  • You’re experiencing a marked increase in conflict.
  • Protecting the past trumps creating the future
  • There is a revolving door of participants or volunteers in your ministry
  • You’re experiencing long-term personal spiritual stagnation
  • You’re experiencing mission creep and redefining success as you go

This week at our monthly staff leadership gathering at Sun Valley Scott Ridout, one of the Lead Pastors at Sun Valley, walked the staff from all three of our campuses through 9 Common Leadership Lids that Ministry Leaders face. Here are some of my notes from that conversation:

1. Character

Character is the lowest leadership lid; and no level of competency will ever make up for a fatal flaw in character because ministry is built on trust. This shows up in all kinds of ways including how people handle pressure, whether they blame or take responsibility, self-promotion or protection, and work ethic among other things.

2. Culture

The culture of your church is made up of the sum total of the beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of the church. Violate this culture by making decisions and leading in a direction that is in-congruent with this and you’ll find your leadership journey short lived.

3. Community

Your church, staff and community all have a unique style. This has to do with issues like pace, high control v high trust, people v tasks, and insiders v outsiders. New England is a different animal that the South and every leader has their best fit. Everyone has a natural style and the better the fit of the leader with the style of the church, staff, and community than the higher the lid.

4. Chemistry

While the majority of chemistry is natural it can be built. The potential of a leader is determined by their inner circle. And if they don’t have strong chemistry with the team their lid is going to be artificially lowered.

5. Competency

Competency lids can be issues related to quality, quantity, or results in reproduction. There are significant differences in leading a church of 100, 500, 1,000 and 10,000. And the higher you go the less you must “do” and the more you must be able to “see and relate.” You move past the science side of leadership to the art side of managing the momentum and feeling of the room

6. Courage

Managers are consumed with doing things right and high-level leaders are consumed with doing the right things. High-level leaders fear missing opportunities more than making mistakes. Great leaders are courageous enough to be the boss and make unpopular decisions and at the same time humble enough to make mid-course corrections.

7. Communication

The best communicator is almost always seen as the leader in the church. If you’re unable to provide ample motivation and clear direction in your communication you’re going to hit a lid.

8. Coaching

If you only listen to people like you, then you won’t be leading very long or very far. You’ve got to get outside of your “tribe” and learn from successful people and organizations in other industries.

9. Corporate

This has to do with the systems and structures of the organization. The resources that are allocated and the decision making process that must be followed.

By the way, the first step in dealing with a leadership lid is helping people recognize it. You train ignorance. Some people will simply refuse to recognize a leadership lid. In this case you challenge obstinance.

Posted in Leadership

3 Responses to “Breaking Through Your Leadership Lid”

  1. Tony March 6, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    This post has got me wanting to learn more about this idea of a leadership lid. What are some resources (books,blogs,podcast etc) you would recommend to dig deeper into this?

  2. Chris Loope August 27, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Shoot, I miss working with you Paul – You are an amazing leader with a lot to say and teach. Thanks for pouring into us wild ones. Keep ministry dangerous, stay hungry, and watch what God will do through our efforts to see Jesus famous.

    • Paul Alexander August 27, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      So proud of you Chris! I miss working with you as well, it’s exciting to watch and see how Jesus continues to use you to expand the Kingdom!

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