how to lead a slt that works

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A strong Senior Leadership Team is an essential component of a church.

In fact, our previous research has found that on average, churches that report having a unified SLT grew more than twice as fast as those that do not.

But unity in and of itself isn’t everything. People are unified to the detriment of their organizations all the time.

We need leaders who are willing to push each other and be pushed—who are not all cut from the same cloth and bring a variety of perspectives. From my time working with churches across the country, I’ve seen firsthand that churches need more gutsy senior leadership teams and pastors who value them.

If you’re ready to build a SLT that makes your church stronger than ever before, consider these changes:

1) Involve high quality leaders of different ages—both men and women.

Nothing will keep you stuck in a rut like surrounding yourself with people who look and think just like you. It’s also a good idea to refresh your team every so often for the same reason.

2) Make group, face-to-face time about vision, not tasks.

Tasks, information, details… most of that stuff can be covered by email or in individual meetings.

When the group is together, take advantage of the collective brain power and energy to build momentum toward the vision. Get out of your normal environment from time to time to encourage thinking outside the box.

3) Cultivate relationships with your SLT, and help them get to know each other.

If the only time you spend with your SLT is for grinding through difficult decisions about church stuff, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

The unity of the team grows as people get to know and trust each other. You’ll also see more honesty and willingness to take risks when you are brainstorming and talking vision. Do fun stuff together and see your group’s dynamic change.

4) Foster a culture of innovation.

Set the expectation that your leaders can dream and propose crazy ideas. Back up what you say consistently by celebrating the wins and reviewing the missteps without throwing people under the bus.

5) Don’t be a know-it-all.

If you never listen to your senior leadership team’s ideas and feedback, you’re a dictator, not a leader.

Your church’s culture flows from the top down. A healthy Senior Leadership Team can make all the difference in the world for your church.

Do you have other examples of how to get the most out of your SLT?

One Comment

  • Thank you Tony, for this great summary. I love the reminder to focus on the big rocks (vision) rather than the small rocks (tasks). It is so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day, which as you rightly say, can be dealt with by other means. I am also becoming more aware of the need to cultivate relationships with and within my team – it’s perhaps the most important task I can do. A team that knows themselves better, works better together.


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