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10. 2. 2023


The Neglected Link

| 2 min read

Written by Dr. Allan Love
Jul 21, 2023 8:00:00 AM

Leadership Development


We have a preoccupation and obsession with leadership; it has a lure, a pull, an overwhelming draw, and a strong gravitational force that sucks us into its orbit. Leadership books, workshops, cohorts, certifications, and conferences continue to permeate and populate our business and church landscapes, and we gobble up all the information and insights we can get.


Undoubtedly, leadership is needed in our society at every level and context. Yet, study after study continues to reveal that we need healthier and more capable leaders in our organizations. With the plethora of leadership materials and training opportunities, do you think we would have figured this out by now? But why haven’t we?


It has been labeled differently by leadership industry types, but leadership development has typically been described as working through these four phases:


  1. Modeling/Directing: I do; you watch (unconscious incompetence)
  2. Mentoring/Coaching: I do; you help (conscious incompetence)
  3. Motivating/Supporting: You do (conscious competence); I help
  4. Monitoring/Delegating: You do (unconscious competence); I watch


It’s about having an overall pathway where each phase provides a process that enables and empowers progress by giving attention to character, capacity, capabilities, comprehension, and team chemistry. As one person put it, it’s about moving and making people.


Dave Rhodes, co-founder of Clarity House, shares a four-fold process of developing leaders in the context of the church world that I find helpful. It starts with a Listener (I do, you watch), then to Loyalist (I do, you help), then to Learner (You do, I help), and finally to Leader (You do, I watch) - as someone who has been a pastor or church leader for 30+ years both in Canada and the U.S., I resonate with these terms to describe the person/people being developed. 


Most churches (and leaders) are designed to develop listeners and loyalists - people who take in content via sermons, podcasts, seminars, etc., and then become faithful contributors to the cause, typically through financial gifts and helping out in various ways as a volunteer (most often on a Sunday morning in the ministry services provided such as children’s ministry). Often the hope is that people become leaders without any actual investment or involvement in the learner stage - which is the most critical stage in leadership development; in this phase, people learn how to lead (which is why the label for this part is called, Learner). I believe this is the missing or neglected link in the leadership development process for most churches and organizations and why we often fail at developing leaders.


The Learner phase of leadership development is neglected or bypassed as much as possible because this stage requires the most effort and investment on the part of the leader facilitating the training and development. In this phase, feedback, motivation, encouragement, and empowerment play an essential role. Google Learning Pyramid and you will find a plethora of articles and images demonstrating that we learn and develop best when we do it and are provided constructive feedback and then given the opportunity to do it again and again, with continual feedback and encouragement.  


Additionally, when transitioning from a Listener and Loyalist to Learner and Leader, you move from the I Do role to a You Do one. The I Do part typically revolves around the leader, and the You Do part around the leader in training. And this shift requires that the person being developed is equipped to leverage more fully their unique passions, gifts, and abilities - which requires on the part of the leader to give attention to the personal, relational, and structural motivators needing to be in place for the successful flourishing of the person in the learning phase; and this is no easy nor quick task. It takes commitment and energy. 


The Learner stage is about capturing the core of leadership development: apprenticeship - where there is hands-on, life-on-life, in-the-field training where the learner takes the lead on the tasks with both support and input from the leader. When we neglect this phase, churches simply are teaching centers and not training centers. 


Most leaders recognize they are experiencing this missing link as they develop leaders and implement leadership growth pathways. Here at Chemistry Staffing, we are committed to providing actionable solutions that help leaders break through barriers and fill in gaps as they seek to develop leaders to reach their full potential - ensuring that every link in the process is addressed. If we can help you and your team, please reach out; I would love to connect and would be delighted to serve and support you in this journey!     


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