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The Mindset of Work

In businesses, as in churches, revenue is required to keep the doors open and programs funded. Therein lies the rub.  You do not make money by developing leaders – you make money by getting your work done. It’s easy to see why many organizations may build goals or vision around employee engagement and development, but then fail in the long run. Their priorities shift to the bottom line – to the work. 

As an experienced corporate leader, I know teams and organizations benefit when all  encouraged to bring their strengths and gifts to the table.  Leaders who subvert this process do harm to their people and to their bottom line. Choosing to place less emphasis on leadership development results in loss of talent and loss of revenue. Ironically, what may take a year or two to damage can take years to repair. Businesses do not often survive that cycle of repair.

I believe the mindset of work may be the hardest to break.  That “heads down” mentality  is so prevalent in today’s workplace.  We put emphasis on deliverables, which reduces the time we have to develop our people. We structure reward systems around metrics-based performance. We interchangeably use the terms management and leadership, because we think they mean the same thing.  

What are some of the symptoms of a work mindset? Employees stop asking why and simply ask what needs to be done. Managers make promotion and hiring decisions based on work performance.  Businesses reduce emphasis (and budget) on training and development programs. “Flexibility” is the mantra of the day.  We attract and retain people with strong administrative gifts, but we lose leaders, who take vision and strategy with them.

Numbers become the primary measurement of capability and success. Bodies fill seats, instead of people.

Do we expect more from our churches?

I worked over 20 years in a corporate environment.  Like most companies, ours had a vision and value statement built around caring for the people we served, and those we employed.  But I drove to work every day knowing that when push came to shove, it was the bottom line that mattered. It was not ideal but it was simply the fact.

I don’t want to feel that way when I drive to church.  As leaders of churches, how do we confront the work mindset? Here are just a few conversations you may want to have with your leadership.

  1. How does our church measure success?

  2. Do we prioritize things that are immeasurable?

  3. Are we raising up managers? How?

  4. Are we raising up leaders? How?

  5. Do we have a healthy discipleship process?

There is a reason why humans enjoy the concrete. Measuring gives us a way to prove ourselves and differentiate ourselves. Showing up in a “top 10” list certainly makes us feel relevant. And I’m not suggesting we throw away our spreadsheets.  I am suggesting that the risk is that we shift our focus from relationship to religion. We measure and move with the mindset of administration.

We sit in the shallows of salvation, too preoccupied to swim into the deeper water of sanctification and discipleship.

Stacey is a leadership consultant and coach, as well as a certified facilitator for the MBTI and TotalSDI assessments.  Her passion is taking 20+ years of corporate experience into the faith-based community.  As in business, leadership development is critical for the church. Stacey partners with ministry leaders to develop customized individual and team building programs.  She resides in Jacksonville, FL.

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