Leadership: What Culture Do You Want?

1be0305Serving 20 years in an organization is a rarity in today’s “what’s in it for me” culture.  I had progressed through an organization and was promoted, in an interim position, to the president of a hospital and I was having a blast.  Over those 20 years I saw leaders come and go and culture change frequently.  I had the great fortune to sit under a number of great leaders and learn from them, but the revolving door of leadership taught me that while an individual might have an impact, when they are gone the culture they imparted on their team lasted far longer. (for better or worse)

Why then, during interviews, aren’t we asking what type of culture the person wants to create?  Why aren’t we digging into the culture they are in and have developed behind them?

Don McPherson from Modern Survey states ” If it takes 20 years to transform the culture of a struggling country, how long does it take to transform the culture of an organization? To transform it in the wrong direction, it takes about 15 minutes. However, to transform it positively the timeframe is about three years for medium and large organizations. For smaller organizations, it can take less time…about a year to three years

The average tenure of a hospital president is 3.5 years, while the average tenure of a CIO is 5 years.  The average tenure of a college president is about 8.5 years.  Thom Rainer states that the average tenure of a lead pastor is just over 3 years.  All of these are just long enough to imbue a culture from the leader long enough to impact the organization, and then the leader leaves with their culture they left behind.

If you are currently leading an organization or group of people you should be leading with a view of who is coming behind you.  If you are creating a culture that works, lay a foundation where no matter who the leader is, the culture is so thick and so engrained that it continues well after you are gone.  Develop a culture that YOU would want to work in, no matter what the organization did.

A positive culture that works well extends past 3 year goals, financial targets and performance evaluations.  It’s how you treat those you work with, how you ethically guide the organization and it means allowing fear and negativity to invade your organization.  Leading with fear and anger disguised as “passion” or “intensity” crumbles the very foundation of culture the benefits long term success.  Lead with love of one another, respect that is so recognizable that it is talked about and honor for authority that is unmatched.  After 25 years in the marketplace I never once saw those on any annual goals….



Multi-Site: Coming in and out of the video feed

VM_BeginnerVideo_00Leading a campus for a multi-site church creates unique and interesting challenges that can be overlooked.  If you are leading that uses a video for the message, I have found that the transition in to and out of the video (whether it is live or recorded) is absolutely critical.  You can lose the entire room if you fumble the transition from the video back to live in the room.

Transitioning in to the video is easier because there is anticipation of what is coming.  We tend to place a comment that the “teaching will start in just a few moments, why don’t you greet those around you or refresh your coffee” and then start the feed accordingly.  On you way into the teaching (video) don’t mention that it’s video – it’s a teaching time! More challenging is the transition OUT of the message.  Here are some of the ways we try to “bring it in the room” after the video feed in a smooth way:

  1. View the message prior to showing it to your campus – We have Saturday night services and the campus leaders attend the Saturday night service to know how the message will flow and how post service prayer time transitions.   We don’t require campuses to do the same prayer topics at the end of service, however knowing what the live campus does helps prepare.  Never show a video you haven’t watched previously.
  2. Consider similar props – If the message uses props, consider if having a similar prop at the end of the message.  One of our teachings was on a cup and the lead pastor had a coffee cup that was referenced multiple times.  When I saw this on Saturday night I noted to bring a similar cup in and reference it at the end of the video message.
  3. Be prepared for the transition back to the room.  When the video feed ends whoever is teaching tries to use the same language to note the end of the teaching.  For us it is something like “we are going to transition into a time of prayer”.  When this happens the campus leader is prepared to step quickly into the main view of the room.  There isn’t a large pause or awkward gap – be ready to transition smoothly by sitting close and being prepared to MOVE when the transition happens.
  4. Deliver a “bring it in the room” wrap up – The campus leaders then, with props if relevant, deliver a short “bringing it in the room” wrap-up.  This usually is what the campus leader heard, how that relates personally and a lead in to what they are going to pray for.  We aren’t changing the message, only highlighting the premise of the message and how it relates to the campus leader and what it might mean for the campus.  It serves to make it relevant in the context and provides a smooth landing coming out of video and also provides a lead to prayer time at the end of service.
  5. If you have multiple services follow the Holy Spirit – Don’t get locked in to what you did in one service thinking it will be the same the next.  It could be, but be open to what Holy Spirit is doing and be open to changing appropriately.
  6. Take authority in the room – You are the shepherd of the flock in front of you!


Thanks to Pastor Matt Poorman, Campus Pastor Vineyard Mishawaka for additional suggestions.