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Leadership Transparency: 4 Ways to Build It

Leadership transparency can build or break trust. Without trust, leadership suffers. However, when a staff, customers, or congregation trust their leaders, good things happen. Several years ago our church made some significant changes to our governance and our church constitution. After a two-year study process, our board of elders presented the changes to our church resulting in overwhelming approval, a unanimous vote. A key reason the process went so well was because they ruthlessly practiced leadership transparency. Here are four ways to practice leadership transparency and move your church or ministry forward.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Our board went out of the way to communicate the proposed changes. They included some key influencers in the re-write. They provided copies of the change several weeks in advance. They convened a focus group of key influencers to get their take before it came to the church. We asked for a strong congregational attendance at our annual meeting where these kinds of issues must face a vote. We had a great attendance.

  • Welcome input and questions.

In addition to the focus group, they gave plenty of time during the annual meeting to field questions. Our head elder who led the meeting kept encouraging questions without appearing to rush the meeting in any way. He allowed spaces of time when no one raised questions, yet he still conveyed an openness to field any questions as they might come up.

  • Be graceful in the face of difficult questions.

A few people raised some tough, but fair questions. Neither the head elder nor the assistant head elder who fielded questions responded defensively when those questions were raised. They acknowledged the question, affirmed the person who asked it, and answered the question without a defensive or off-putting tone.

  • Be totally forthright.

Some of the proposed changes required a significant change from congregational rule to a board rule form of governance. When such questions were raised, the head elder didn’t attempt to soft sell, beat around the bush, or obfuscate the reality of the change. He answered clearly and explained the why behind each answer.

I hadn’t led a church for some time that held such significant congregational meetings. Yet, the spirit in which the board led provided a textbook example how good leadership transparency can move the ministry forward.

What other ways have you seen that build leadership transparency?

Charles Stone
Charles Stonehttp://charlesstone.com/
Both Charles and his wife Sherryl  have a heart for pastors and pastors’ wives. They have taught hundreds of pastors and their wives in the United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Mexico. Charles earned an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He just began another master’s degree in Neuroleadership. He’s also an avid Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket fan. He has been professionally trained in these areas by these organizations: Life Coaching through the Professional Christian Coaching Institute Strategic Planning through Ministry Advantage (certified) Vision Clarity through the Church Unique Process (certified) Conflict Management through Peacemakers Charles is the author of three books – Daughters Gone Wild – Dads Gone Crazy (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them (Bethany House, 2010), and People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership (Inter-Varsity Press, January 2014). He loves to fish, ride his recumbent bike, and go to the movies with Sherryl, his wife of 33 years (he always gets the jumbo bag of popcorn with a free refill). They have three grown children: Heather, age 30, who is married to Charlie; Joshua, age 29, who is married to Deborah; and Tiffany, age 26, who lives at home. One canine also makes his home with them in Spring Grove, Illinois.

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