The Development Cycle
With a big smile, Jay stood up, notes in hand, and exclaimed, “OK, thank you. Now I am ready to really go for it! I love having these conversations!” We had just finished a conversation clarifying ministry objectives and individual development goals. I was curious. He’s a highly effective leader, who, from my perspective, already knew what to do and how to do it well.
"What about that conversation was so energizing?" I asked him. He replied, “It is the confidence that I gain from knowing that we are on the same page about what my work is. That gives me a tremendous clarity and lots of energy!”
We call it the “development cycle.”
That kind of conversation is one of the most important practices for leaders. In such conversations, both the team leader and team member engage in discussing ministry objectives. We call it the “development cycle.”
These conversations get what is in both a team leader's head and a team member's head out into the open. When we state, question, disagree, and then agree together on expectations, we create a safe zone to build the relationship, understand one another, and establish trust. This defines the authority to act. Honing expectations produces role clarity.
In those conversations we explore areas of development. I ask myself these questions to prepare for these conversations:
- What strengths of this person can be expanded?
- What additional responsibilities will help him/her develop more as a leader?
- What deficits need to be improved?
- What experience or equipping will help increase this person’s influence? Capacity? Effectiveness?
- What feedback would be most helpful?
Sitting together creates the opportunity for sharing observations, giving feedback and exploring aspirations. The rhythm of these conversations helps me as a team leader to see the people on my team in a fresh way in light of emerging ministry opportunities. I can also see how a person’s thinking is developing. The impact is the intangible confidence boost for the team member as his/her views are affirmed or shaped.
Observe the Signs
Patrick Lencioni wrote a book a number of years ago, titled Three Signs of a Miserable Job (Jossey-Bass, 2007). Those signs (my paraphrase) are:
- Anonymity - Nobody really knows who you are, your interests, your family, etc.
- Irrelevance - You cannot see how your job relates to the big picture of the organization, and whether your contribution matters.
- Immeasurement - You have no idea how you’re doing, and whether your efforts are making progress.
I agree with Lencioni's title, and remember a meeting where we verbalized such a need.
A Common Vision
We prayed and asked God for a vison for leader development.
Some years ago, awareness of a growing challenge prompted forming a task force to look at leader development. Our training wasn’t resulting in the kind of folks who could think creatively about the changing culture, whether at universities or in the marketplace.
About twenty people were assembled from around the world; I was glad to be included. We prayed and asked God for a vison for leader development. I was a bit skeptical. We were from so many different countries. How could we ever come to a common vision? Well, never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit.
We were in four groups. As the first group reported, they shared the same four items that our group discovered. The next group had three of the four. The first two groups’ mouths dropped open as we shared our results. And finally, the last group confirmed that God had led us to the same conclusions. We identified the same things for which we could believe him. Those four items were captured in a few phrases. We want our staff to feel “known, needed, and that they have a future.”
Foundation for the Future
That phrase continues to be our aspiration. Our development cycle is one expression of that. It remains the most powerful when it comes to development and retention of our staff.
A good team member experience is the foundation for good team leaders of the future. One of the best ways to empower and develop people today is by shaping leadership views through what may seem like routine conversations. This also has a compounding effect into the future.
Andrea Buczynski is currently the Global Vice President for Leadership Development and HR for Cru. She serves with a great team who oversee people strategy, development efforts, staff care and key processes for Cru’s work in helping to fulfill the Great Commission. Their vision is to develop healthy, growing, and effective people and teams, sustainable leadership capacity, and healthy culture. Andrea is also a member of Christian Leadership Alliance’s Board of Directors.
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