leading without power, part 10 (final)

in this series of posts (part 1, overview; part 2, competency facilitator; part 3, culture evangelist; part 4, mission curator, part 5, storytelling host, part 6, champion of hope, part 7, uniqueness dj, part 8, contextualization czar, and part 9, trust guard) i’m ruminating on the suggestion that leadership in the church needs to move away from the traditional notions of hierarchical power we’ve embraced for so long. and i’m unpacking 9 new metaphors for “powerless leadership”. here is the final metaphor (#9):

Collaboration Guide

i’m going to keep this short and to the point, since this series has gone on long enough (too long, possibly), and because i’ve written about collaboration multiple times in the midst of the other 8 metaphors.

here’s a strong statement for your consideration: the top three skills needed to be an effective leader in the twenty-tens are…

1. discernment

2. contextualization insight and praxis

3. a passion for and skill in hosting collaboration

a reminder of where this blog series began:

power-based leadership has no place in the church.
(and: power-based leadership is a culturally-waning paradigm in all contexts, because we live in a wiki, prosumer culture.)


here’s a paradigmatic shift idea: church leadership needs to move from a paradigm of control to one of facilitation.
in this context: facilitation = identifying and nurturing competencies

collaboration is messy. it can be cumbersome. it can create political and relational tensions. but it is better is just about every way. collaboration is a reflection of the various giftings paul writes about, and a reflection of each person’s imago dei, and a reflection of the priesthood of all believers.

and collaboration works at a practical level: whatever hierarchical power a leader might forfeit by leading collaboratively is gained by an order of magnitude in terms of buy-in, shared ownership of mission, creativity, follow-through, quantity of output, breaking up group think, avoiding stupid errors and blind alleys, and all sort of other CYA dead ends.

this is the biggest lesson i learned in my years of leadership at ys — particularly when it came to the leadership team. when we operated collaboratively, we kicked butt and had a blast doing it. when we were forced to operate in more traditional top-down decision-making modalities, the fun went away, the mission lost focus, and the ministry suffered.

here’s a thought to chew on: collaboration requires leading from within, not leading from out in front.

what would this look like for you?
what would it require you give up?
what would you have to risk?
what might you gain?

4 thoughts on “leading without power, part 10 (final)”

  1. Reading this one post is enough meat for me to go back to the beginning and start the feast there…
    This paradigm works at successful businesses, too. Too bad the government will never get this going… each bureaucrat has too much too lose, so the “CYA mentality” prevails. See it all the time….

  2. Thanks, Marko, for this series. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of it hits close to home for me, because of my current situation in ministry.

    I would add that collaboration only works when you have people who are interested in collaborating. There is a human tendency to be lazy and assume things will happen on their own w/out personal attention. I think we all experienced this in school when we had to do “group projects.” Sometimes I wished I could just do it myself, so that my grade wouldn’t be negatively affected by others’ apathy.

    I think the same is true in churches. As people allow their lives to be busy with so many other things, many look to church as the one place they can go where they don’t have to invest, but can just receive. That being said, when you are able to build a group of people who become eager to see God’s kingdom advance, there’s no comparison to doing it alone! I am praying today for the many people in ministry today who are feeling alone and wish they could collaborate with a team of dedicated disciples. Keep going, and in time it will be built. Don’t be disheartened!

  3. So, I wanna practice this in my life.

    What do you do when you wanna lead without power but someone else, or others, still want to lead with power and fight to gain it within the circle?

    Would love to hear some thoughts or a post about that.

  4. why do we have so many church leadership conferences?

    cause we have too many church leaders like Rick Warren and Steven Furtick and Ed Young Jr. and Mark Beeson and we are still looking for actual church leaders.

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