Who Owns Leadership Development At Your Church?


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This week, we finished our leadership development intensive at the Chick-fil-A headquarters. Mac Lake did a fantastic job of helping leaders become more intentional in creating a culture of leadership development. A highlight of the intensive was spending some quality time with Mark Miller. I think you will really enjoy hearing about what he had to say in regards to creating a culture of leadership development.

Tony:  What are some common leadership development mistakes that you see leaders making today?

Mark:  Many leaders ignore personal leadership development. For others, it is a priority issue. Sort of like when you are on an airplane and they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others. Many leaders fail to grow because they do not have a plan.

Tony:  If personal development is essential then what does a development plan include?

Mark:  We start by discovering our “critical gaps.” Are there things that are core to success that you are lousy at? Once gaps are determined, leaders can take the following four action steps:

  1. Gain knowledge through seminars, podcasts and books
  2. Reach out to others
  3. Create variety in your life
  4. Walk toward wisdom

Tony:  From a corporate perspective, what do you do too instill a culture of leadership development?

Mark:  For years, we had an organic leadership development culture at Chick-fil-A. One of our leaders would say, “Leaders will make themselves known.” This worked until we reached the $1B mark. We had leadership opportunities and we didn’t have leaders who were ready. We quickly discovered that the starting point had to be a common definition of leadership. This alignment helped us become more intentional about developing leaders.

Tony:  What are some cracks in leadership development that most organizations find themselves dealing with?

Mark:  Probably the most common leadership crack would be age. Many teams are getting older and no one is ready to take their place. Another crack occurs during expansion. If organizations expand then more leaders are necessary.

Tony:  We have been talking about leadership pipelines today. Does a strong pipeline exist at Chick-fil-A?

Mark:  Yes, we are intentional about looking at current leaders, emerging leaders and we are constantly evaluating leaders that can move beyond where they are today.

Tony:  What do you do when you realize that a leader is underperforming or unable to take the next steps in the leadership pipeline?

Mark:  We have to be honest about where people are. This makes an organization more credible. People decisions are too important to be made by a single individual.

Tony:  What encouragement would you give pastors and church leaders on this topic of leadership development?

Mark:  If you showed up one Sunday morning and there were no lights, no sound, and no singers do you know who you would call into your office? Of course you do. You would deal with the situation if it happened repeatedly. So…who owns leadership development at your church? Who is the champion? The point leader? Someone has to own it. Ninety percent of today’s churches have no-one assigned to leadership development. This is crazy. It’s crazy! I think on a senior staff, everyone is a developer of leaders first and then they can think about their ministry tasks.

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