Thursday, June 02, 2016

Andrew's axioms for parish leadership.


“If Jethro has his rules, I have my axioms.”
These are truths I have picked up along the way. I make no claim as to originality.
Several friends and colleagues have contributed to the list over the years.
They are offered in no particular order, except for the first and the last.

1.      The health, safety, and welfare of the team always comes first.
2.      Nothing screws up a perfectly good system faster than getting the boss involved.
3.      If you do the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way, you will always get a right result.
4.      You are not a hero for fixing a problem that you yourself created.
5.      A good leader always reserves the right to be wrong.
6.      Your team has more collective intelligence than any one of you alone, including you. Especially you.
7.      Good leaders always eat last. Except when you’re with the Altar Guild. Then the Rector eats first. Get over it.
8.      You can learn everything you need to know about the nature a parish’s leadership by watching how they worship together.
9.      “You can accomplish anything as long you don’t care who gets the credit.” – Harry Truman.
10.  If you want to look like a genius, surround yourself with good people.
11.  If you want trust, give trust. If you want respect, give respect.
12.  There are two kinds of control, the kind you take and the kind you earn.
13.  Your emergency is not necessarily someone else’s crisis.
14.  Your team will follow you and do as you say, but if they know that you would give your life for them, they will succeed beyond all imagining.
15.  As you read the Gospels and Acts, whenever you shake your head in amazement at how Peter never "gets it," remember: You are Peter. Jesus trusted Peter anyway.
16.  It’s not their anxiety that the team cannot manage, it’s yours. You are responsible for your own anxiety.
17.  Always remember that the congregation you are in is the best congregation anywhere.
18.  It’s a pulpit, not a therapist’s couch. It’s a pulpit, not a soapbox.
19.  Your team will be as loyal to you as you are to them.
20.  Gripes move up the chain of command, not down.
21.  Avoid assuming conspiracy when simple incompetence will do.
22.  When you celebrate the Eucharist facing ‘East,’ remember that you are laying your gifts at Jesus’ feet. When you celebrate facing ‘West,’ Jesus is looking over your shoulder.
23.  Your congregation is not a family. Your family is your family. And they will appreciate that you know the difference.
24.  “The bureaucratic mindset is the only universal constant.” – Dr. Leonard McCoy
25.  Words and phrases to avoid in leadership: “never,” “always,” “should,” “ought,” “we’ve always done it that way,” “it is the custom of this parish…,” and “you need to….”
26.  The stewardship of a congregation will not surpass the giving of their clergy, and the prayer life of a congregation will not surpass the prayer life of their clergy.
27.  They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
28.  A good model is worth its weight in gold. Until it clouds your thinking.
29.  Maybe Jesus was asleep in the boat because he trusted the crew more than they trusted themselves.  After Jesus reduced the storm to a manageable level, he went back to sleep and let the crew do their work.
30.  The most important person in your parish is the person who may show up just once and “only” to pray. Everything you do, from the Vestry meetings, to the Sacristans, to the administration, is done to serve that person.
31.  Hear “no” as graciously as you hear “yes.”
32.  The right learning style for the right task. Don’t be afraid to adapt the task to fit the learning style.
33.  Listen to your resistance, it is telling you something.
34.  Use disruption sparingly.
35.  Be receptive to ideas from unexpected places. The best idea may not be yours.
36.  The person suggesting a solution may not be the person to execute the solution.  
37.  ‘Beat the bounds’ of your parish regularly, because your parish is more than your membership.
38.  Good behavior is what you do in public. Ethics is what you do when no one is watching.
39.  Be generous and be public with praise, but don’t overdo it. Nothing spoils a good compliment like gushing.
40.  Your team knows how you talk about them in private.
41.  When casting aside tradition, remember that all you doing is creating new ones.
42.  In parish ministry, the throughput is the product.
43.  If a gentle reprimand is in order, then do it privately.
44.  A chief job of the leader in a parish is to pray with, mentor, and coach your team.
45.  No matter how small it is, your parish is made up of several congregations. And that’s okay.
46.  When confronting a painful past, there are always conflicting narratives. They are all true.
47.  “How” and “What” are the easy questions. A good leader asks “why.”
48.  Lead from the front when you want to be seen. Lead from the rear when you need to observe.
49.  When your team throws up their hands and gives in to your wishes, you’ve lost.
50.  Rules are rules. But no one remembers the framework or the canvass, just the painting. 

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