by Carey Nieuwhof
Today, I’m sharing leadership lessons I’ve picked up from North Point Community Church.
After my previous post about what I learned from North Point on team alignment, I want to share another defining characteristic of North Point’s leadership: how to attract leaders who are better than you are.
North Point has done this so well. Andy Stanley is one of the best communicators and leaders in the world, but his bench goes deep—very deep.
For 11 years, he worked with Reggie Joiner, a world class leader in his own right who leads the now-global Orange movement designed to help churches and families partner together to influence the next generation. (Hint, if you haven’t registered for April’s Orange Conference in Atlanta, do so now. It too is a world-class leadership incubator). While Reggie is one of the best examples of Andy’s ability to attract and work with exceptional leaders, he is not the only example.
At North Point (and at Orange) you run into dozens of people who could be running very large organizations of their own but who have chosen to work as a team together. In many respects, I feel the same way about our team at Connexus.
Everybody else could be working for someone else and be making a huge impact there. So how do you get them to work with you?
As Andy often says, he’s the leader because he was first. Andy honestly believes there are other leaders who are better than him in many roles at North Point. It’s an incredibly humble stance, and it’s allowed Andy to assemble a top rate team.
In my almost seven years around North Point culture, here’s what I’ve learned about attracting leaders who are better than you are:
1. Deal with your insecurities. Insecure leaders will always feel threatened by people they think are ‘better’ than they are. Get counselling. Get coaching. Do what you need to do. Realize you have greater value to any organization if you can assemble a great team than if you want to be the team. Don’t cap your organization’s growth or mission because you are insecure.
2. Give away responsibilities, not just tasks. When you trust your team, it ushers in the opportunity for greatness. If everything has to cross your desk, you will only ever lead a small organization (because your desk isn’t that big). Make fewer decisions every year. And get people who make better decisions than you do.
3. Share the spotlight. If you have to be front and center all the time, you have a problem. Pushing other people into the spotlight is the hallmark of great leadership. Study both Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner on this by the way. They are both incredible at it.
4. Make it your job to help them succeed. What if you stopped trying to win and actually just spent your time trying to help other people succeed? If you do that, by the way, you might just end up being a little more successful too.
5. Create a culture of freedom. The reason many leaders are afraid to release leaders in freedom is because they haven’t done the tough work of aligning the organization. If you have a highly aligned team (here are five thing I’ve learned about team alignment from North Point), you can release them to do what they are called to do. High capacity leaders do not like to be controlled.
That’s what I’m learning about attracting leaders who are better than you.
What insights would you add? What are your struggles when it comes to attracting high capacity leaders?
Carey is the lead pastor of Connexus Community Church, a growing multi-campus church near Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Ministries. Prior to starting Connexus in 2007, Carey served for 12 years in a mainline church, transitioning three congregations into a single, rapidly growing congregation. He speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting. Carey recently wrote Leading Change Without Losing It and co-authored Parenting Beyond Your Capacity with Reggie Joiner. He and his wife, Toni, live near Barrie, Ontario, and have two sons, Jordan and Sam. In his spare time, you can find him cycling his heart out on a back road somewhere. Connect with Carey on Twitter or on his blog.