You don’t know what you don’t know – Leadership Clarity Check™

To be effective,  leaders must have an accurate understanding of the starting point for the organizations they lead. This is especially true for Christian organizations where the incarnational model established by Jesus impels us to enter into the lives of the people we want to serve. If leaders have widely differing estimates of where people are, it can be an underlying source of conflict, reduced giving, and low morale. A strategic plan developed by a group of people who believe that 20 percent of the people feel positive Unknown-2.jpeg
about the church or regional body will be quite different from one developed by a group of people who believe that 70 percent feel positive.

The Leadership Clarity Assessment™ is a brief, 10 question, online assessment in which leaders are asked to provide their best estimate of the perspectives, experiences, and aspirations of the people they serve and lead, either in a church or in a regional association such as a Diocese, Presbytery, Synod, or Conference.

The purpose of the Leadership Clarity Assessment™ is to help leaders evaluate how clear they are as a leadership team regarding the thinking of the people they are called to serve and lead. It identifies a number of key indicators that have been found to make a critical difference in how members make decisions about supporting the church or the regional body. It then provides feedback to the leadership team evaluating whether the team is very clear, clear, somewhat clear, or very unclear on each of those key indicators.

Even if you have already decided to use the Congregation Assessment Tool as a congregation, the Leadership Clarity Check™ can be extremely useful.  First, it will probably confirm that you have made the right decision to conduct the survey. Running a survey requires a significant investment of time and money. Members will want to know why it is necessary. The results from the Leadership Clarity Assessment‚ will help answer that question.  Second, it will help the leadership team manage the “surprise” factor when the actual data is provided from the survey. Conducting an assessment is a spiritual journey from the shadows into the light. People often need help to stay positively engaged in the learning process when the results are different from their perceptions. Finally, the Leadership Clarity Assessment‚ can help leaders gain insight into patterns of conflict, declining resources, and frustration as they realize that some of the underlying causes have to do with varying perceptions that can be brought together with the right information.

To learn more or to order:
 https://holycowconsulting.blog/leadership-clarity-check/.

  Holy Cow! Consulting – organizational intelligence you can use to make better decisions, in less time, with more confidence.

inSight©: Helping Regional Associations Help

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In our work with Regional Associations and congregations, we have found the following things to be true:

  1. A transformational Regional Association is one that has focused on creating vital, growing congregations and is discovering effective ways of achieving that vision.
  2. Using Organization Intelligence (OI) is an important step towards determining an organization’s health and next steps needed. But OI is also only as good as its application.  Without applying OI systematically to move congregations towards becoming vital reflections of our good works in Christ, OI just becomes data.

As we head into Autumn, Holy Cow! Consulting will begin rolling out some new ways to help Regional Associations help congregations.  For the systemic application of OI, by the end of September we will finish completely rolling out our inSight webpages.  inSight is a system of information that empowers Regional Associations to serve a transformational role in their congregations.  It is designed especially for those Regional Associations whose primary goal is to develop healthy, vital congregations.

use this one.pngFor each Regional Association, with five or more congregations that have taken the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT), we will create a private webpage.  On that page, the leadership of the Regional Association will find dashboards of all of their congregations.  These dashboards will show the energy-satisfaction levels of the congregations, the education and motivation, conflict management and levels of trust in leadership, the cultures of the congregations, spiritual vitality, hospitality and worship scores combined with the level of involvement that is meaningful to congregations. The webpage will also include all of Vital Signs (CAT results) for each congregation so everything is in one place and easily accessible.

How Does this Help? 

Regional Associations have a lot of different tasks and roles to fill as they serve their congregations.  Our goal with inSight is to help get that job done in less time with more confidence.

inSight tells a story beyond each individual congregation.  inSight helps Regional Association leaders begin to see what support congregations might need overall.  From tconflct-for-bloghe chart on the right, you can see that this Regional Association has several congregations that could use some help with becoming more flexible. Because we know that organizational flexibility is vital, this Regional Association might want to look at creating some resources that help their congregations become and remain nimble – open to change so they can meet the needs of who they want to reach in the community and in their membership.

inSight helps Regional Leadership know what each congregation is focused on. Walking into a congregation, a Regional Association leader can have that particular congregation’s data in hand. This means they can immediately know what folks in the congregation are focused on for energy and satisfaction.  For example, you would work with a clergy-focused congregation a bit differently than a ministry-focused congregation.  The Leader will also know what the priorities are for that congregation and their theological diversity.  So as they preach, teach, or meet with folks they can keep all of that in mind to ensure what they are saying resonates with the congregation.

inSight helps Regional Leadership make decisions.  One of the hardest things the Regional Association is tasked with is triage.  Answering the questions of what needs immediate attention, what can be dealt with later and what cannot be fixed for now is a tough job.  inSight helps Regional Association have a clear way to measure what is happening in a congregation without solely relying on fiscal reports, attendance trends, and anecdotes.  With an accurate and holistic way to measure the health of a congregation, the Regional Association can begin answering those tough questions of where attention needs to be paid and what the potential of success will be.  

In October, once inSight is in place, we will begin offering Pastor Start-up packages which will help the Pastor in their work as they embark on a journey with a new congregation.  This will complete our three phase transition process, which also includes a Transition Plan and Vital Leader Profile.

We look forward to continuing on this path together.  If there are other ways we can help please let us know.

Emily Swanson
President of Holy Cow! Consulting
emily@holycowconsulting.com

 

 

 

The Clergy-Focused Congregation

One of the things that we say about organizations is that focus trumps picture.  That is simply another way of saying that when people reflect on how they feel about an organization, they don’t look at the entire picture of what an organization does.  Instead, they focus on a few things that are important to them.  The few things they focus on are more decisive than everything else in the picture in determining how they feel about that organization overall.

We call those important areas where members focus drivers of satisfaction.

One of the patterns we observe in some faith communities is that members focus on the clergy person when they reflect on how they feel about the church overall.  We call these systems “clergy-focused.”  Generally, like the example below,  a system is clergy-focused when three or more of the top five drivers on a Vital Signs report concern the work of the clergy person…or two on the clergy person and one on worship.drivers for clergy focused.png

Sometimes, people confuse clergy-focused with clergy-driven.  When we say that a church is clergy-focused, it does not mean that the pastor is running everything.  A church can be clergy-focused where the pastor is leaving every decision to the lay people.

In a clergy-focused church, how people feel about the pastor is more important in their overall view of the church than other parts of the picture like Christian formation, hospitality, music, youth ministry, or how decisions are made.  In fact, members in a clergy focused church will often indicate dissatisfaction with areas of the church that arguably have nothing to do with the pastor.

To say that a church is clergy-focused tells you nothing about the strength or weakness of the church.  Some clergy-focused churches are transformational.  Other clergy-focused churches need reinvention.

In a clergy-focused church that is in need of reinvention, making changes in any area will have little impact on the how satisfied people are with the church unless the changes impact how they feel about the relationship with the pastor.  For these churches praiseworthy efforts like strategic planning will have little benefit to the church for the same reason.  I do not recommend strategic planning for a clergy-focused reinvention church.

Clergy-focused systems have some advantages.

First, positive changes can happen quickly in a clergy-focused system.  When a new pastor is brought on board who “clicks” with the congregation the mood of the congregation can change almost instantly.

Second, some pastors function well in a clergy-focused system.  They tend to be persons who enjoy center stage, have a bounded-ego, and who can parlay good will and resources into ministry and mission.

Third, clergy-focused systems can grow to become quite large since members may have lower expectations of their interactions with the congregation because the benefits of membership accrue to their relationship with the clergy…even if it is a distant, virtual relationship.

Clergy-focused systems have their downside as well.

First, clergy-focused systems tend to be anxious systems because success or failure hangs on one person.  The pressure of clergy-focused systems can lead to pastors who burnout or flameout.

Second, the conflicts in clergy-focused systems tend to get focused on the clergy person even if they have nothing to do with him or her.

Third, there are few remedies for clergy-focused systems that get themselves into trouble.  Once things goes south, it is difficult for the pastor-people relationship to be fixed.  When the church is clergy-focused and one or more critical success factors on the clergy person are above 30, steps should generally be taken to help the pastor move on. This is especially the case in clergy-focused, Hearth and Home church cultures.

Wherever a congregation finds itself, it is important  to know what the congregation is focused on so as we move forward we are mindful of what might be trumping the bigger picture.   It is also important to remember even if we can’t see the bigger picture, there is always someone who can. Unknown

 

Over the Years We have our Cows and CATs

We admit our name “Holy Cow! Consulting” is a bit different.  Originally coined by  baseball players in the early 1900s, it gained greater notoriety when Harry Caray used it in his years as a baseball announcer.  The phrase means “wow!” implying that there has just been an amazing event or that eureka moment – which we hope is the experience our clients have when they work with our tools.

That said, we know our name deserves as many cow jokes as our clients can send us.  Over the years, we have had such a fun time with clients who get creative in encouraging their congregations to take the CAT (Congregation Assessment Tool). Here are some of our favorite Cow/CAT ideas:

This cow was placed outside of the church on launch day with a sign saying “Take my survey!” photo 2.JPG

 

 The sign with this picture said “Get Ready the CAT is coming!” enhanced-buzz-11844-1397060009-22.jpg

These CAT caps were worn by everyone on the planning committee who introduced the CAT to the congregation – Unknown.jpeg

 

 “The Cow brings us the CAT” was this slogan: enhanced-buzz-8892-1397081147-11.jpg

 

 Perhaps my all time favorite (though not cow or cat themed), one music director had the children’s choir sing “Are You Ready for a Survey?” to the theme of “Do You want to Build a Snowman” from the movie Frozen. 

So keep sending us your creative ideas! We love cows and cats and working with your congregations.  Let us know how we can help and visit us at www.holycowconsulting.com.

Emily Swanson
President
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The Transition and Vital Leader Profile© -Help during Pastoral Transition

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but building the new.  – Socrates 

Congregations that find themselves in a period of pastoral transition are often faced with the extremely daunting task of trying to determine where the congregation is, where they need to be, and who can help them get there.

For more than 25 years, Holy Cow! Consulting has been offering the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) which provides an in-depth look at the experiences, perceptions and aspirations of a church’s congregation.  Once those things are determined, the congregation’s leadership and search committees use the information from the CAT to create a transition plan and pastor/parish profile.

In an effort to help congregations apply what they have learned from the CAT,  we offer the Transition Summary and Vital Leader Profile*.  This report is built from the CAT results (the Vital Signs Report) and the Transition module that is added to the CAT when the congregation places its order.

The Transition Summary gives the congregation a report on what steps should be taken during the time of transition including:

  • Identity and Direction
  • Remedial Issues that need addressed
  • Administrative Issues
  • Opportunities and Vulnerabilities of the Congregation

This report also creates a Vital Leader profile from the congregation’s data in the CAT to help begin the work of constructing the pastor or parish profile.  This profile includes:

  • Professional Interests that would be a good fit for your congregation
  • Context the next pastor/rector should feel comfortable working in
  • What abilities would be needed from the next pastor/rector to help the congregation become a more vital congregation
  • The best fit in terms of Leadership style

In our experience, this report is a much needed tool for a congregation’s leadership during times of transition, helping them make these important decisions in less time with more confidence.

*For more on this report and to see a sample here: Transition and Vital Leader Report Sample.

*To read more on pastoral transitions please order a copy of Transitions Apparitions here.