“Breaking Bad” habits that keep your organization from growing

Whether it is a business, a non-profit, or a faith community, all organizations share similar rules and principles in leadership and dynamics. Across the scope of systems, leaders need to lead. People behave in predictable ways regardless of the group or organization, from a family or club all the way up to a nation. Family Systems Theory provides an excellent framework for understanding why people behave as they do in groups, and what each individual and the collective can do to begin making steps toward healthier attitudes, beliefs, thoughts and actions, i.e. habits.

This article by Carey Nieuwhof outlines 8 reasons that churches fail to break the 200 barrier. All of them are rooted around habits – repeated behaviors that do not require conscious thought to be continued – and do require conscious thought and significant effort to be changed. He offers a clear list of leadership and organizational structure habits that hinder growth because they are designed to maintain the status quo.

Here are 8 reasons churches who want to grow end up staying small:

  1. The pastor is the primary caregiver.
  2. The leaders lacks a strategy. 
  3. True leaders aren’t leading. 
  4. Volunteers are unempowered. 
  5. The governance team micromanages. 
  6. Too many meetings. 
  7. Too many events and programs that lead nowhere. 
  8. The pastor suffers from a desire to please everybody.

Habits by nature are designed to maintain the status quo – that is their job. Inertia pulls us back to old habits when we attempt to develop new ones.

In a business setting, we might rephrase them thusly:

  1. The leader is the primary doer. 
  2. The leaders lacks a strategy. Many leaders have great products/services and great ideas but no clear sense of how to get them to market, or  how to grow over the stages of the business life cycle.
  3. True leaders aren’t leading. Often businesses fail for lack of a COO – someone who can get the ideas and products to market and organize resources.
  4. Employees are unempowered. Even if you are paying them, your workers still need other motivations, such as empowerment, responsibility and accountability.
  5. The governance team micromanages. If owners and managers have to control or approve every decision, then you are limited by their capacity for time, by their creativity, and by the demotivating effect this has on employees.
  6. Meetings. Some organizations have too many, others have too few. I have worked with clients who complain they never get time with their supervisor. This can be just as debilitating as too many meetings. The solutions is the RIGHT meetings for the RIGHT reason, with the right agenda and actions – all that build capacity.

These 8 cultural markers need to be understood. Knowledge is only half the answer. These are habits, which are not changed by information, but by conscious decisions and actions repeated over time, with whatever support is necessary. This may be coaching, or a peer learning community, or both.

We can help you live a more Synchronous Life. Contact us for a free consultation to explore what strengths you have that will enable you to successfully face your challenges.

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