Our parish is healthy and growing, which is great. We love the energy, the excitement, the sense of strong team ties, good morale, successful efforts. But leading through a season of growth brings its own challenges and problems too.
#1. Change That Brought Growth Might Not Sustain It
In our church we experienced growth in response to deliberately deciding to do things differently when it came to programming. That’s great for now, but it will need to be revised and updated moving forward. And that will always be a problem, human nature being what it is. Even the innovators of today can become the standard bearers of tradition tomorrow. Great ideas and organizations need to be about change and then they need to be about changing the change.
#2. Systems or Staff Structures Aren’t Scalable
Not so long ago we were a full time pastoral staff of 4, with three part time support people. Over recent years we’ve grown to a full time staff of 18 and 6 part time people. Obviously that means we have to do meetings differently, we have to organize ourselves differently, we even need to develop a different culture. All of that is easy to lose sight of in a season of growth (it was for us) which can bring unfortunate consequences like hurt feelings or bad communication, not to mention organizational dysfunction. One important question leaders in fast-growing organizations need to ask is, can our systems and staff adapt?
#3. Keeping the Wrong People
This goes along with the first two points. When our organization really started growing and flourishing there was a season in which a number of staff transitioned off our team, some wanted to leave and some were “helped off.” At the time it surprised and shocked us, and it made us sad too. But the fact of the matter is this: the people who got you to where you are aren’t necessarily the people who are going to get you to the next level. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be loyal and grateful for previous efforts. But if your organization has changed to such an extent that a team member is no longer a fit, or they’re in over their head, or they’re just unhappy in the new scenario it is in no ones best interest to keep pretending it ain’t so.
#4. Good Things Are Chosen Over the Best Things
As we started to really grow we actually began to do less, rather than more. Now we have a passion for doing less and staying focused. Your growing healthy organization can’t be distracted and delayed by a lot of things, even good things, that keep you away from the best things, the things only you can do, or the things you can do better than anyone else. As your organization grows you want to be as lean as you can be.
#5. Failing to Guard Your Heart
Many leadership teams of fast growing organizations can experience burn out, it happens easily. They might also be tempted to arrogance, they can fall in love with growth itself, become enamored of their own success. The sense of invincibility is always a danger, with perhaps moral or financial failure following too. Leading takes a toll on leadership. The focus needs to be on long-term sustainable health, not just immediate growth.
For more on this check out vanderbloemen.com