November 17, 2023

How to Identify & Hire Standout Employees on Your Church Staff with William Vanderbloemen – Bonus Episode | The Unstuck Church Podcast

being and hiring unicorns on your church staff with william vanderbloemen

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At The Unstuck Group, we often say that “Your church staff team is the greatest asset you have for accomplishing your vision.” So, when hiring new staff for our team, how do we find the standouts—the unicorns—with the traits that only the best of the best have?

In his brand new book Be the Unicorn: 12 Data-Driven Habits that Separate the Best Leaders from the Rest, William Vanderbloemen, CEO and Founder of top executive search firm Vanderbloemen Search Group, reveals how job seekers, employees, hiring managers and company leaders everywhere can stand out from their peers and become irreplaceable, building the careers they’ve always wanted.


Drawing on 15 years of research and over 30,000 face-to-face interviews, Vanderbloemen’s new book reveals the 12 teachable traits – the fast, authentic, agile, solver, anticipator, prepared, self aware, curious, connected, likable, productive, purpose driven – which he finds all unicorns have in common.

In this bonus episode, I sat down with William to discuss how the findings in his book can empower senior and executive pastors to make better ministry hiring decisions, including how church leaders can better approach their hiring process, how older leaders can spot younger unicorns, the importance of soft skills in ministry leadership, and more.

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This Episode is Sponsored by PlainJoe Studios:

PlainJoe: A Storyland Studio partners with churches, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and educational environments to create unforgettable strategic, digital, and spatial stories that lift the Spirit. 

Through architecture, branding, interior design, website development, themed environments, and more, PlainJoe champions churches as Sacred Storytellers and collaborates with a wide range of world-changing people and organizations. 

To learn more about working with PlainJoe’s team of down-to-earth specialists, architects, strategists, artists, and problem solvers, visit

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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. As church leaders, when hiring new staff, how do we find the standouts, the unicorns with the traits that only the best of the best have? On this bonus episode of the podcast, Tony sits down for a conversation with William Vanderbloemen about his new book 15 years of research and over 30,000 interviews that will help you improve your hiring. Before we get to the interview, though, here’s a word from Tony.

Tony (00:34):

PlainJoe: A Storyland Studio partners with churches, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and educational environments to create unforgettable, strategic, digital and spatial stories that lift the spirit. Through architecture, branding, interior design, website development, themed environments and more, PlainJoe champions churches as sacred storytellers and collaborates with a wide range of world-changing people and organizations. To learn more about working with PlainJoe’s team of down-to-earth specialists, architects, strategists, artists and problem solvers, visit William, let’s start with perhaps what’s probably the most obvious question. What do you exactly mean by unicorn?

William (01:28):

Yeah. Well, it actually started with we have a pool in the backyard, and the kids get a different float every year. And they wanted a unicorn float, and I was looking at it. And so the, the whole premise of the book is: How do you stand out in the crowd like nothing else? And we, we tried standout. But there’s a great book written that’s called standout, and there’s actually a software tool for it. And so that didn’t work. That didn’t work. That didn’t work. And one day, I was thinking, you know, the unicorn is what, you know, the, in the tech world, that’s the, the darling startup. It’s the thing that stands out in the crowd and who doesn’t like one, right?

Tony (02:06):


William (02:07):

And it’s kind of androgynous, so it doesn’t matter: men, women, whatever. But the, but the general premise was we, we wanted to write a book based on a lot of research we did about what we’re finding about the very top, top, top candidates that we’ve interviewed over the last 15 years. And then create a guidebook for people to be able to practice some of those same habits and make themselves stand out in the crowd, which, which I think is actually a bigger problem right now than people realize. You know, the, the, for the first time in U.S. history, we’ve got five different generations in the workplace at the same time. Never happened before. And so it’s crowded. And am I too old for this? Am I too young for this? And don’t get my voice heard? It and, and it, frankly, there’s a sixth generation no one really wants to talk about called A.I. It’s not Gen X or Y; it’s A.I. And it’s going to take a lot of jobs. So how do you stand out? And as a church leader, like, my goodness, you know, my pastor said to me, “William, I don’t know if people are ever gonna come back to church.” And I said, “Why Tom?” And he said, “‘Cause now they’ve figured out they can, they can go live to Matt Chandler’s church or Steve Furtick’s church, or. And I’m not that good a preacher.” And I’m like, “Tom, Tom, there are other ways that you stand out.

Tony (03:31):


William (03:31):

And, you know, I, I would imagine there’s some listeners today, they’re like, how do, you know we can’t copycat anything anymore ’cause everybody can see everything. So how do I, as a pastor, or a church leader or a lay person, stand out of the crowd? And while it’s not in the Bible, I think everybody’s like the unicorn’s kind of this mythical thing that’s pretty cool. And, and it stands out. So that’s a long-winded, recovering-preacher answer to your question.

Tony (04:00):

Well, I can tell you our team will be serving more than a hundred pastors this, in these last 12 months. And every one of them is looking for the unicorn. And here’s the good news, William. Everybody listening to today’s podcast wants to be the unicorn. So, this should be a fun conversation, and so let’s look back. I mean, you’ve been doing this for 15 years. You have 15 years of research. What, what did you find is the most important of the 12 traits that you outline?

William (04:30):


Tony (04:30):

And why is it the most important?

William (04:33):

Well, it, it might be helpful to give a little origin ’cause ’cause what I don’t want is William’s opinion on the 12 things that’ll make you stand out. That’s not what I wanna write. I don’t have that informed an opinion. You know, I, I like, I call ’em quant-qual books like quantitative data with qualitative stories. And during the pandemic, we shut down. You know, it’s funny; I, I didn’t go to business school. I, I have a religion and philosophy degree. And as I tell people, you know, people with philosophy degrees spend their whole career saying, “Would you like fries with that?” And so, so, I’m learning as I go. And what I learned in the pandemic was a business lesson. If every one of your clients closes indefinitely, it will affect your P&L and you’re gonna have a lot of time on your hands. And so, we, we spent a whole lot of the pandemic trying to serve churches with resources for how do we get through this? But we still had time on our hands. And, and we realized in a search, which you’re fairly familiar with, but for those listening, you know, you hire us to find a student pastor, exec pastor or head pastor. You know, you start with a very wide funnel at the top, and maybe there’s 1,500 people that are under consideration. And then, it very quickly drops to maybe a hundred or 150 you’re taking a serious look at. And then, you do zoom interviews and you review preaching or worship samples or whatever, and you get down, down, down. And when you get down to the very best of the best, maybe the last eight or 10, they get a long-format, face-to-face interview. And, we realized during the pandemic, you know, we’ve done 30,000 of those long-format, face-to-face interviews.

Tony (06:15):


William (06:15):

So the very best of the best, 30,000 of ’em. And we said, could we find who among that 30,000 is actually even better than those? Like, who are the unicorns?

Tony (06:26):


William (06:27):

And can you know who got the job? Who kept the job? Who got promoted? Who, you know, who really brought value? And we figured out who that was. And then we said, do they have anything in common? And the answer was yes. And it was counter to everything I expected.

Tony (06:44):


William (06:44):

The, the list, you know, is it 12 traits that make, it’s not even traits; it’s habits. It’s not, they’re all six feet tall, and they have great hair and teeth. Or they have a one 60 I.Q., or they went to, I don’t know whether to say UGA or Georgia Tech. I don’t know, which one’s, you know, the right for your, for your state. But, what these people did across all socioeconomic strata, they all shared the same 12 habits that they practiced. And we saw ’em in the interview, and you could see it in their work. And it really makes ’em stand out like a unicorn. So, to answer your question, which of the 12 habits is the most important? I think that depends on what job you have.

Tony (07:26):


William (07:27):

So, like, to use business terms, if it’s sales and marketing, or to use church terms, if it’s someone in charge of visitor follow-up or first-time donor follow-up, which would I hate to sound crass, but that’s a fairly congruent analogy. Speed or fast responsiveness is absolutely the most important thing.

Tony (07:52):


William (07:52):

In a noisy world, if you get back to people right away, you will win. And the truth is no one gets back to people right away. Our friends at Generis have done a big study that show that the number one way to reach and impact a first-time donor. Have you heard this?

Tony (08:09):


William (08:11):

The pastor on that Sunday texts the donor.

Tony (08:15):


William (08:16):

Thanking them for their gift.

Tony (08:17):


William (08:18):

Is that not wild?

Tony (08:19):


William (08:19):

I mean, that sounds, that would’ve sounded invasive to me. But it’s like, no, no, no, no. You don’t have to say thanks for your gift of this amount, but like, person-to-person, right away, it, it speed. Right? But, but then, on the other hand, like if you’re hiring someone to do your accounts payable or your bookkeeping, I don’t know that innovation is the top habit for them. Right?

Tony (08:44):


William (08:44):

I mean, we tried, we tried innovation in accounting here in Houston years ago. We, we called it Enron.

Tony (08:49):


William (08:49):

Didn’t, a lot of people that did that wear orange now.

Tony (08:56):


William (08:56):

So, you know, I think it depends on the job. And what’s really cool is in, in five years, it might be three. We will have tracked, we, we built a software tool that helps people assess where they are. It’s actually pretty cool for 360. So teams can assess people, see where blind spots are in these 12, what do we work on? Super cool for development plans. But we’ll be able to, and it’ll probably take three years of collection, collecting data, to say, oh, campus pastor, and we do live preaching. Well, probably we need somebody with these as their top four gifts.

Tony (09:33):


William (09:34):

Campus pastor, and we do broadcast teaching. Okay. We need these top, and it’s gonna be a really cool gift to the church. But for now, we’ve got a written resource, that should let people, hone in on what their gifts are. And if they take the, the sort of software inventory, they can immediately see, here are the three that I need to work on. And you don’t have to read the book in order. You can go to whichever habit you wanna read first and work on. And, it, it, I’m hopeful that it helps a lot of people.

Tony (10:01):

Well, on that note, give me your take on this. Do, I mean, do you think some of these skills or habits are teachable, learnable, or are?

William (10:11):

All of them.

Tony (10:12):

Okay, alright. Yeah.

William (10:14):

All of them. They’re super teachable. And, and that’s kind of what the book does. It’s like, here’s a case study in, in an innovator. Here is what we heard from unicorns in innovation. Here’s some data behind that. Here’s some easy steps for you to take to, to, to develop a sense of innovation. It doesn’t mean you’re a super creative; it just means you’re approaching the problem with, could we do it a different way? Speed is just like, get back to people. Like, I remember as a young pastor, we, I’d been called to a church that was trying to relocate. So we moved ’em, and we were looking for a, we were in a Seventh Day Adventist church. I got lost on the way there my first two weeks serving as the pastor. It was a horrible location. And I was riding around with a guy that had been on the board several times, pretty connected guy. And right across the street from our property that we purchased was YMCA brand new. And Todd said, “William, I don’t, I don’t think they use that YMCA on Sunday morning.” I said, “That’s cool.” And he said, “I know the board chair.” I’m like, “Great.” He said, “Wait a minute, lemme get you his number.” So he writes down a piece of paper. We’re standing in my office. He said, “You should call him.” I said, “I will.” So, then he stood there and looked at me for about 30 seconds. He said, “Why haven’t you called him?” And I said, “I’m standing here with you.” He said, “I’ll wait.” He said, “William, lemme tell you something. The very first opportunity you have to respond is the best one.”

Tony (11:46):


William (11:47):

And I’ve never forgot that. It’s made me a little maniacal. I’m probably ought to see a therapist about it. But, the get back to people right away, you’d be shocked how many friends you can win. How many new visitors, how many volunteers that did a great job on their first day. You know, that, just getting back to people. Nobody does it.

Tony (12:08):


William (12:08):

Because, you know, I pick up my phone. I’ve got fi, I’ve got a good looking bride, but I’ve got five different platforms to answer. You know, my LinkedIn messages, on Facebook and the instant, like, ah! Nobody gets back. So they’re all learnable. It’s just a question of whether people will put in the work.

Tony (12:25):

I love that. All right. So here’s the great thing. I think, over the years, pastors and church leaders have really started to lean into some of the tools that are available, profiles to help us understand who we are, who our teammates are, who we’re looking to hire. And they’re using things like Enneagram, Leading From Your Strengths, Working Genius. Where do you see your framework kind of dovetailing with these other offerings?

William (12:53):


Tony (12:54):

And where might there be some differences?

William (12:56):

Yeah. Well, I think they all complement one another. I mean, for, for 15 years we’ve tried to say, “What is the one inventory we’re gonna tell our clients to use?” There isn’t one. You know? And they keep being new ones. And I think, you know, I think Socrates very little of what he taught was written down. One of the things everybody says, yeah, no, he used to teach this a lot was: Know yourself. And frankly, I think it’s the better part of what Jesus was saying when he said, don’t worry about the log in the other guy’s, splinter in the other guy’s eye. Get the log outta your own. I don’t think he was saying, you should be ashamed of yourself. I was think he was saying, you need to get to know yourself better before you can help others.

Tony (13:35):


William (13:36):

And so, you know, big, we’re using Working Genius right now. It’s fantastic. And we love the Enneagram. We know how to talk to each other because of that. We’ve used Insights and DISC. And what, what we, what we think this will help with, and we built this tool, we called it the Vander Index, just for lack of a bit more creative thing to call it. It takes the 12 habits and where do you rank yourself? And then, it’ll show where you rank yourself and how it matches against the general population and the tens of thousands of people who’ve taken this, where you rank against the unicorns. Right? And, and that’s fine. That’ll, that’s helpful. The reality is, most everybody is an easy grader. One of the habits is self-awareness. It’s the least common habit that’s practiced of the 12. Okay.

Tony (14:27):


William (14:27):

Just from the data. So when we asked, so after we, you know, figured out all these habits, we surveyed a quarter-million people, you know, to try and build this software tool. And quarter-million people surveyed, 91% of them said that they’re above average in self-awareness.

Tony (14:49):

Somebody’s not self-aware then, William.

William (14:51):

I’m not a mathematician, but, you know. So your grading is, it, it will help you ’cause you’ll see where your highest and where your lowest, where your top and the bottom. And you’ll get a report for here’s how you work on these things and all that. But the real value will be when you let your boss take it, or your board chair if you’re the pastor, about you, and then where you have a subordinate take it about you. And then you get to see; it’s kind of, I don’t know if you know the Flippen Profile or it’s a similar sort of, or Lominger. It’s a similar sort of way saying, here’s how I perceive myself with these habits. Here’s how people around me do. And now, we can build a development plan.

Tony (15:32):


William (15:32):

And that, that’s about as fun as going to your physical after you’re 50 as a man. But it’s, you know, it, it necessary and helpful. And I think you know, it will complement and not compete with all these other wonderful tools that I am so excited church leaders are using.

Tony (15:50):

Yeah. And that you’re, you’re kind of alluding to the fact that it really as a 360-tool then, really helpful because then you get the perspective of not only self-perspective, but those around you. And I can see where that could then really be insightful to help us know what are the next steps that we need to be taking.

William (16:09):

Yeah. And the, and the, what sounds like good news, but actually ends up being sobering news, is you pick who you want to take it about you.

Tony (16:17):


William (16:17):

It’s not like we pick the crabby board member that doesn’t think you can do anything right. It’s like you pick your friends to take this about you, and then you’re gonna see, oh, wow, okay. There’s some things that I can, I can do real fast to become a better person and a better servant and stand out of the crowd.

Tony (16:34):

And you know what, William, I think most pastors, most church leaders, they actually want that honest feedback because they do, they wanna, they wanna maximize the potential of the giftedness that God has already put into them. You talk in the book about standouts and that they have a strong sense of purpose, and they wanna find an organization whose purpose aligns with their own. So how do you recommend kind of understanding that strong sense of purpose in the interview process?

William (17:05):


Tony (17:05):

If you’re, if you’re looking for that as well.

William (17:08):

Yeah. I, you know, did you read this article that came out a couple months ago about the guy, why I left the ministry? He was at a fairly good-sized church in the Chicagoland area, and it kind of went viral among churchgoers and non-churchgoers. There’s just a lot of people dropping outta ministry, a whole lot. And I don’t know that that’s all together a bad thing. I didn’t realize when I went to seminary, when I, when I got to Princeton, I’d go to lunch with different people every day. And I was the only guy around the table that didn’t have a, a, a dad or an uncle or a granddad who was in the business.

Tony (17:45):


William (17:47):

Like, when I told my family I thought I was gonna go to seminary, we had a big family dinner. My grandmother said, “Oh, good. Now, we have one to get us all in.”

Tony (17:59):

That’s, that’s not how it works. But go ahead.

William (18:02):

I don’t, don’t think so. But, you don’t correct your elders, right?

Tony (18:05):

That’s right.

William (18:06):

So, but I think there are a lot of people who have gone into ministry because it’s the family business.

Tony (18:13):


William (18:14):

And that’s not a purpose.

Tony (18:17):


William (18:17):

You know, and, and I, I hope that the book will help people drop back and say, well, what do I wanna be a part of? Like, maybe it’s a different kind of church. Maybe it’s time to revamp your church. Maybe it’s time to get unstuck as a church. Maybe it’s time to, you know, get a clearer vision for what your particular vision for the church in your setting is. Like, when I was at First Pres Houston, we, we hired a company to help us with this. And I, they told me things I never saw. We’re right in the middle of the largest medical center in the world. We have people, like, I was routinely the dumbest guy in the room, which I know many people are thinking, well, duh. But I, you know, I can kind of hold my own, but nope, very smart people. And, and it led us to say, you know what we do? We engage minds and guide hearts into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. And we started putting on like, science and theology forums and medicine, and, and it, it just gave us not just a great commission purpose, but like, oh my gosh, right here, right now. This is, as Paul said of David, this in our day and in our time, here’s how we serve God. And I think a lot of churches have a great opportunity after the pandemic to ask themselves that.

Tony (19:36):


William (19:36):

I think ministry’s more localized than ever now because the ubiquitous is available on YouTube or church online platforms. So, my my hope is pastors actually score higher than average on having a purpose, this 12th habit. But I think it can always get a little clearer, right?

Tony (19:56):


William (19:57):

I think sometimes in my journey, I’ve thought I’ve had a sense of call and purpose, but it’s kinda like the guy Jesus healed where he was blind and Jesus touched his eyes and he said, “Can you see?” And he said, “Well, a little bit. You know, the people look like trees.” And then, it took another touch to get clarity. And I, I think that’s what, what I’m learning I have to do in my journey. And, and, hopefully, that’ll help some others along the way as well.

Tony (20:21):

Well, while we’re talking about the interview process itself, let’s help senior church leaders know what are some of the specifics that they need to be considering as they’re looking at potential candidates and interviewing them for jobs.

William (20:37):

Yeah. And, and I, Tony, I don’t know the profile of the church, you’re, listen, that’s listening. But I know the profile of the church in America is about 110 people on a Sunday. Right?

Tony (20:48):


William (20:48):

So we’re not talking multi-staff, but we are talking about what kind of volunteers. I used to just try and, as my other grandmother would say, go scare up some volunteers. Bad idea. You need to interview your volunteers and interview them case-specific. Right? So like, speed for, you know, donor follow-up. And if you decide that, that your job needs speed when you’re interviewing them, and this border’s on entrapment, but you, you’ve heard me tell this story, speed is super important at our office, not with every job anymore now that we’re bigger and have multiple teams. But with sales, marketing consultants, absolutely. So when we interview ’em, great interview, yay, yay, yay, and then, 10 p.m. that night, they’re gonna get a weird text from someone that they don’t know that’s in our office: “Hey, thanks so much taking the time. Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to meet you. I’d love to connect sometime.” If the person doesn’t get back to ’em, they’re not like gonna lose the job. But if they get back to ’em fast, even if it’s, “I just got home. I’m with my kids. Could we schedule a time to talk next week?” Just anything that shows this one gets back to people. I’m probably gonna get screamed at by the blogosphere for saying that. You, you’re a mean, abusive boss. No, I’m not. I’m not. Because we expect that kind of speed and responsiveness. And if you don’t have it, the last thing I wanna do is put you in a job where you’re suffering, and you’re miserable. And you don’t fit in. So I, I think it’s, and your listeners are smart. I mean, people really are smart.

Tony (22:23):


William (22:23):

And I think if they’ll just think like, what am I interviewing for here? And how do I shape the interview in a way that will test for these habits? ‘Cause they don’t, you know, they are teachable and learnable, but when you’re interviewing, they need to kind of already be the key ones need to be there. For, for instance, maybe you’re looking at a, a creative designer, you know, that’d be a big church. Or something that requires learning on the job. We’re just starting to, first time we’re hiring an online campus pastor, and it’s a half-time job. And we’re just doing somebody local how to, somebody’s gotta learn on the go. Right? They, they need to be agile. I’ve been known when I’m interviewing someone where agility is a key factor to move the interviews venue an hour before the interview and not move it, you know, long way away. But, hey man, you know, there’s really better cup of coffee about six blocks down that way. Could we meet there instead? And just see? ‘Cause some people don’t do well with that. I have lots of very talented, good friends that don’t do well with that. Fine, but don’t take a job that demands that. Right?

Tony (23:31):


William (23:33):

So, I think it’s just using your brain a little bit to say, of these 12 habits I’m interviewing for this job, what are the three that really need to already be in place? And how do I construct an interview around that in a way that will surface the answer without asking the question?

Tony (23:48):

That’s very good. Again, along the lines, the lines of interviewing, what are some of the characteristics of a unicorn that might be most misunderstood or often overlooked by someone in the position of hiring?

William (24:04):

Yeah. I, you know, I think the self-awareness piece is overlooked. So, so in general, I think interviewing, interviewing in particularly in churches reminds me of like my high school years and really bad dating experiences where, you know, I would clean my car extra clean and maybe wax it. My car was never clean. That’s not who, you know, I am. I wasn’t then anyway. And then your date, you know, maybe doesn’t eat for four days and wear something can’t wear. And they look, and I’m doing pushups right before I pick her up. You know, like just trying to put on an image of, of the very, very best of me without being real honest. And I, I tell, I tell our team, you know, we’re called to a lot of things in our search work, but one of them is nobody walks down the aisle with Rachel and wakes up next to Leah. Right? So, let’s just have an honest look. And, and I, I think that self-awareness is a big piece of that, both on the interviewing side and on the interviewee side.

Tony (25:17):


William (25:18):

And, you know, for instance, Tony’s interviewing me for a job. Tony asked me the question, “Tell me about yourself.” And he is already told me how great his company is, and he’s trying to tell me the greatest version of his company that there is. And then, I try and tell, “I, I was most likely to succeed in high school, and I went to Wake Forest undergrad and Princeton Seminary.” And I’m, I’m listing accomplishments. That’s not self-aware. Here’s self-aware, “Tony. I know that your company is growing, and it’s into problem-solving and helping churches get unstuck from a rut. I love jobs where I have to solve problems I haven’t seen before. I love working with people that really want to get better. And I can show you my last job. I had a particular client that we had to revamp the whole way they were doing things, even down to their email system. And it grew their email lists, 3x,” and of course list all those things. And, and, “I’ll just tell you Tony, as a, as an Enneagram seven, I love going from problem to problem. I don’t wanna work with one client my whole life. I wanna bounce around. So, what I’m learning about myself is the things where I thrive are the kinds of things that you’re doing as a company. And that’s why I’m excited about this interview.

Tony (26:40):

Yeah. Yeah. Even that basic question of what are you learning about yourself could be pretty insightful. Yeah.

William (26:47):


Tony (26:48):


William (26:48):


Tony (26:49):

Speaking of self-awareness, William, this is many years ago. I was with a team, it was a team interview setting. We asked the candidate, potential candidate one question, and it was along the lines of, tell us a little bit about yourself. That candidate then proceeded to talk for 45 minutes, the entire amount of time that we had allocated for the interview slot. And we only asked one question. So did this candidate have self-awareness? No. And that became a problem later on, too, by the way. So very, very important.

William (27:21):

And just, just one little piggyback, I think on the interviewing side, I don’t hear interviewers tell candidates what they’re struggling with as a company.

Tony (27:32):

Ah, yeah.

William (27:34):

And I don’t, I mean, unless you, unless you’re hiring somebody who’s really unaware of what’s going on in life, I doubt you’re gonna surprise anybody. I mean, I wouldn’t go into the deepest, darkest things, but I think some honesty about where we are trying to get better as a company—we really have to do a better job of this—that’s gonna win you a lot in the interview process. And maybe even open the door to the candidate saying, “Well, you know what I’ve been learning.” And, if you can have that conversation, that’s the, the self-awareness piece, you wouldn’t think matters in an interview, but it’s, it could be the ballgame.

Tony (28:11):

No, that, that is a great insight, William. And I’ve shared for years, leaders, great leaders gravitate to big challenges, big problems. They want, they want the next, the next big challenge to overcome. And leaders gravitate more to problems than they do positions because they wanna know, as a leader, is there something for me to fix? Is there something for me to conquer? And so I think the more self-aware that the organization can be to talk about some of those challenges, you might actually find you are better able to attract the higher-capacity leaders with that, with that kind of transparency about what you’re struggling with. Alright.

William (28:55):


Tony (28:55):

Last, last question: you referred to this earlier, just the number of generations now, five generations working together. We know from our research at The Unstuck Group that younger leaders, the, especially the millennials and Gen Zers, are the most underrepresented generations on, on church staff teams right now. So, can you give any insight into how older leaders can spot younger unicorns before they’ve built that, that proven track record? This is before they’ve actually had a lot of experience in leadership themselves because they’re younger. Can you help the older folks that are listening understand how to kind of discern, is this somebody that really does have potential?

William (29:43):

Yeah. Read the book.

Tony (29:44):

Okay, well, that’s.

William (29:46):

Read the book. I mean, that sounds trite, but read the book. Get, get a handle on this. This is not William’s opinion about 12 things people ought to do. This is hard data. The very best candidates, irrespective of age, education level, socioeconomic structure, these are the 12 habits. I, I remember spotting them in a woman that came along. Well, I spotted ’em in Holly long before I knew what the 12 habits were. Hired her at 23-years-old, amazing. And the last year, well, two years ago, we hired a young woman who had interned with us to kind of help out with marketing. She ended up running the whole thing, and at 24, we put her on the lead team.

Tony (30:31):


William (30:31):

And, you know, it’s not like, I don’t know that I have ever gotten to a place where it’s like, oh, they need to be on lead team at this age. It’s, it, it’s harder than that. It’s more like, man, they really are special. And I, and it’s the, our friend Craig Groeschel says, you know, if you surround yourself, if you, if you, if you hand out tasks, you’ll surround yourself with doers. If you hand out authority, you’ll surround yourself with leaders.

Tony (31:00):

There you go.

William (31:00):

And so, I’m, I’m trying to learn, and I think it’s an art. What are the calculated risks I can take in giving some authority on projects that if they fail, it’s not the end of the company. Right? But it takes some leadership to do that. And I, I kind of tested Christa through two or three of those, and it was like, yeah, no, she belongs on the lead team. And, of course, she just left to run an amazing, amazing ministry as their number two. And I’m bemoaning the fact that I don’t have a Gen Z on my lead team anymore. I’ve gotta go figure that out. So I, you know, it, the, the problem with putting the really good young ones on your team is you’re not gonna keep ’em. And you better just get used to that. So I used to call people, my team and my people, and I’m realizing, no, you know, that, that’s almost heresy. They’re Jesus’s people.

Tony (31:52):


William (31:52):

And he can deploy them where he wants to. And if I get to enjoy ’em for a while, that’s great.

Sean (31:57):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. At The Unstuck Group, our goal is to help pastors grow healthy churches by guiding them to align vision, strategy, team and action. In everything we do, our priority is to help churches help people meet and follow Jesus. If there’s any way we can serve you and your church, reach out to us today at Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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