Q.  Tell me about your team and the context of your situation.

A.  I started off overseeing one area of ministry. As we grew, I became the ministry director who oversees the vision and strategies of all ministries. In the last two years, we have seen tremendous growth. Our staff has doubled; we have over 20 full-time staff. It’s great we grew, but we’re looking for sustainability.

If we are not intentional about building leadership in our staff, we have an unsustainable model. We must take steps to a sustainable ministry.

Missional Community Leader is the phrase we use; it’s the leaders’ vision, their strategy in the context of their community. I got a text today from a staff about an opportunity that is unique to his community. I told him, ‘You are the leader. If you feel like this will move your ministry forward within our mission, go for it.’ That element of empowerment is important.

Q.  Do you mostly hire people who are young leaders or those who are already effective leaders?
A.  We have hired a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s who have some leadership and transferable experience. Still, we really have to train them to live out the culture and nuances of YFC, i.e. the language and practice of the five essentials. Some come with great time management leadership but have little understanding of ministry; others come with great relational ministry skills, but need help on the time management or fundraising. We can’t just deliver non-personal leadership development tracks. We need to be in everybody’s life and develop an individual leadership blueprint for each of our staff. I love that the national leadership development team is delivering a model for us from which to grow. What I want to look at is what national offers to help you get to individualized development tracks, what regional offers to help you get there, and what can we offer to help you get there.

Q.  Give us a specific example of what you’re developing with one staff member.
A.  A specific staff member example is one of our youngest staff, but he has a lot of potential. I’ll call him Cal. He’s 24 years old, has a lot of volunteer experience in healthy ministry, but he was really drawn to the YFC mission of reaching lost kids.

Cal has high relational ability, and also carries high responsibility in the development side; he’s not afraid to sit down with a donor and ask her to be involved. He is one of the few staff that has equal abilities in ministry and fundraising.

He needs the mindset of being THE MISSIONAL community leader in that small community who would gel ministries and impact the community in a large way. He carries himself well. First thing I want him to believe is

‘Yes, I am a leader and I can do this.’

I want him to catch a vision of becoming THE missional community leader for that small town. The one thing he needs to grow in right now is mobilizing people around him. He can do a lot himself, but it’s not a sustainable model. He’s got to start building teams of community support, volunteers, etc. and learn how to do that well.

 Q.  How will Cal grow?

A.  This is where our individual leadership blueprint will come in. We see Cal as someone who sees himself ministering in this area for many years. We’ll develop this missional community mind frame and set goals for him. We’ll deliver it at our weekly staff meeting during our regular training points time. We’re working on establishing quarterly, half morning training sessions. Then twice a year, we retreat and delve into deeper issues.

The big thing with individual leadership blueprints is coaching. As his direct supervisor, I will keep this model in front of us. I recognize that I did not do things well in all those areas so I can’t coach him in every aspect. I’ll bring in Lori who excelled in a certain area of ministry to coach that area; now team is investing in team. We haven’t got to that point but that’s the desire I have. In the process, Liz becomes more of a leader as she recognizes she can speak into someone’s life.

 

Q.  How do you create a culture of leadership development?

A.  

  1. We talk about empowerment across YFC, but my question is: Are we really ready to empower leaders even if they lead in a direction that we had not intended? Senior leaders have got to be willing to allow the new leaders go in a slightly different direction based on their passions and strengths.
  2. Celebrate the wins. When we see a leader take a huge step, we celebrate that. Let the staff know we recognize that, and engage them at a higher level when we can.
  3. Decsion Making. It would be wise for more of our field staff to participate in bigger decision-making that impacts them so it doesn’t always feel like a top-down decision. The challenge is discernment, knowing which decisions those are. I want to bring my field staff into this culture so I’m giving my two directors the freedom to create this culture of leadership with their teams. I feel a little awkward because I am away from the decisions. Yet, it’s happening; I should be celebrating; they are really developing their teams, not in all the ways I would, but they’re doing it. We have had more fruit this last year with those moves.

 

Roger Vezeau is the Ministry Director for Northern Indiana YFC.

 

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