We on your UUA Congregational Life Staff want you to spend your leadership development energy on relationship-building and connecting individuals to meaningful service (see the Leadership Development Team Training below), so we offer affordable leadership development courses that your potential and seasoned leaders can take take in parallel, then to meet and learn together:
Claiming and activating Spiritual Leadership and its practices can help shift congregational culture toward greater soulfulness, equity, and liberation. In this training, individuals and teams are introduced to Spiritual Leadership and its five practices for UU congregations. This training is team-led by the staff of the New England region. It is open to all UU congregations in any region.
For new leaders and those interested in possible leadership. Covers covenant, healthy communication and boundaries, shared ministry, and stewardship. Also provides and introduction to congregational polity, UU theologies, and the wider UU movement.
Syllabus (PDF) | Sample Presentation
Includes family and other systems thinking applied to congregations. (Similar to Healthy Congregations®) Learn healthy leadership practices, communication and conflict skills, the importance of being mission-focused and how to communicate across differences.
Syllabus (PDF) | Sample Presentation
Develop a deeper understanding of how to focus your congregation on mission, build trust and develop a cohesive leadership team. Learn about stewardship, strategic planning, annual goal setting and ministry assessment and the basics of congregational governance.
Syllabus (PDF) | Sample Presentation
Develop advanced leadership skills that will help identify challenges. Learn how to help others see challenges in new ways, empower others and find creative solutions together. This course includes working on a case study with other participants.
Syllabus (PDF) | Sample Presentation
Many congregations only think about developing new leaders around the time that the nominating committee is looking for potential board members. Instead, we recommend that congregations see leadership development as part of an arc of faith development that includes not just leadership skills, but also leadership sensibilities and faith development.
Below is a self-guided training that your Leadership Development Team can use to design your own internal program.
Healthy, wise leadership is essential to the growth and vitality of our congregations, yet leadership development can easily become an afterthought. Here is a brief overview of where we come from and where we are going.
After being elected at an annual congregational meeting, nominating committees tend to start their work as the next annual meeting approaches. They spend a couple of meetings going through the directory and making calls to fill the empty positions designated in the congregation's bylaws.
Nominating committees exist for a variety of reasons: to reducing self-perpetuation of current leaders, to scout out potential new members, and to keep “the wrong people” off the board.
Our old model of leadership recruitment did not account for realties in today's congregations:
We recommend you use the resources in this section as a study resource, then plan a day-long retreat to re-magine how you might shift your own congregation's culture toward leadership development as an ongoing part of faith development. Here are some things to consider:
Learn the kinds of leadership best practices that you want to instill in the rest of the congregation. Learn about the difference between Leadership and Management (we need both), how Leadership Development is an important part of Faith Formation, and how thinking in terms of teams and not just individuals can make all the difference!
Adapted from The Business of the Church: The Uncomfortable Truth that Faithful Ministry Requires Effective Management by John W. Wimberly, Jr., copyright © 2010 by the Alban Institute.
Like all systems, congregations are filled with anxiety. Unlike most systems, they also are filled with an ideal vision the world cannot provide. To fully maximize the vision ..., managers need to pay close attention to the systemic inputs of people, facilities, and money that support the ministry. To that end, there are six key practices for effective congregational management:
Thinking Systemically. Reactive managing is more time-consuming than proactive attention to the system as a whole. When a major personnel, facilities, or financial subsystem malfunctions, it can bring the entire congregation to a grinding halt. It is far easier to keep a system maintained and running properly than to restore one that has failed. But such care requires that managers recognize and understand the systems of which they are stewards.
Understanding the Difference between Management and Leadership. Effective organizations are run by people who know when they are leading and when they are managing. The two require very different but complementary ways of thinking. Leadership thinks long-term, management short-term; leadership focuses on strategic issues, management on implementation; leadership inspires people, management brings people together into a cohesive, efficient group.
Lubricating the System. Managers "grease the gears" of a system to keep it running smoothly. Before friction (such as facilities issues, personnel problems, or financial surprises) reaches the point where it can limit ministry, managers apply the needed lubrication (usually involving more people, space, or money) to keep the parts running smoothly. If the system lacks effective management, the parts will begin to work against themselves in ways that damage the productivity of the whole. ...
Maximizing the Possibilities of the Parts. When working with personnel, effective managers seek to bring out the best in those they manage while limiting the impact of a person's weaknesses on the system. Managers make the most of the limited facilities and maximize dollars by ensuring that finances are handled with care.
Limiting Risks. Congregational leaders are supposed to take appropriate risks to expand the ministry. Congregational managers are supposed to identify and reduce risks. They ask the questions the dreamers sometimes ignore: "How are we going to pay for this?"
Aligning the Parts. Productive managers have a clear understanding of the vision and goals a congregation is attempting to implement. When the inputs of facilities, finance, and people are aligned with a well thought out strategic plan grounded in the vision.
The best managers learn as they manage. Sometimes, we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. However, learning what works and doesn't work with our given inputs and our own individual strengths and weaknesses as managers is key to growing into the practice of management.
Adapted from Mobilizing Congregations: How Teams Can Motivate Members and Get Things Done by John Wimberly.
After understanding the difference between leadership and management, it's easier to see the different kind of leadership needed on board committees and ministry teams.
Your Leadership Development Team should have several practices and strategies that enable them to identify potential leaders, especially from groups that may be at the margins (young adults, people of color).
For a humorous counterpoint to this list, see Top Ten People Who Should NOT Be On Your Board
Anxiety about lack of volunteers and leaders can often lead to treating them as human capital, objects to be managed. Ironically, this anxiety-fueled approach tend to produce disappointing results. Instead, creating a program based on an I-Thou relationship of mutuality, generosity and gratitude can create a culture where people desire to find ways to serve.
Our living tradition calls us to be lifelong learners, and this is especially true for our leaders. There are many skills and sensibilities that today's leaders need to help our congregations be ready for the 21st century, which your UUA Congregational Life Staff uses to design programming.
As we are moving from the modern into the post-modern era, and from white male centered notions of leadership to a more inclusive model, different understandings of leadership are emerging.
Join the conversation by identifying your own congregation's core leadership qualities to assist your leaders and potential leaders in developing their own learning plans. Ask yourself questions like:
We on your UUA Congregational Life Staff want you to spend your leadership development energy on relationship-building and connecting individuals to meaningful service, so we offer affordable leadership development courses that your potential and seasoned leaders can take take in parallel, then to meet and learn together:
Centered Leadership Part 1: For new leaders and those interested in possible leadership. Covers covenant, healthy communication and boundaries, shared ministry, and stewardship. Also provides and introduction to congregational polity, UU theologies, and the wider UU movement. syllabus sample
Centered Leadership Part 2: Includes family and other systems thinking applied to congregations. (Similar to Healthy Congregations®) Learn healthy leadership practices, communication and conflict skills, the importance of being mission-focused and how to communicate across differences. syllabus sample
Strategic Leadership: Develop a deeper understanding of how to focus your congregation on mission, build trust and develop a cohesive leadership team. Learn about stewardship, strategic planning, annual goal setting and ministry assessment and the basics of congregational governance. syllabus sample
Adaptive Leadership: Develop advanced leadership skills that will help identify challenges. Learn how to help others see challenges in new ways, empower others and find creative solutions together. This course includes working on a case study with other participants. syllabus sample
Every one-to-one recruitment invitation should include these four major components which are based on paying attention to the individual and building authentic relationship.
Adapted from Sharing the Ministry: A Practical Guide for Transforming Volunteers into Ministers
Jean Morris Trumbauer (Augsburg Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1995) Out of Print
All systems need feedback loops and organizations like congregations are no different. Your Leadership Development program will be more responsive if you develop assessments and other tools to help you learn and adjust as needed.
Things you might include in your assessments:
Holy Clarity: The Practice of Planning and Evaluation by Sarah B. Drummond
Completing the Circle: Reviewing Ministries in the Congregation by David R. McMahill
Evaluating Ministry: Principles and Processes for Clergy and Congregations
Congregations become "smarter" as systems as they develop feedback loops that enable the system to learn from its past successes and challenges. Here is a tool that you can use to improve your ministry as well as the experience of your volunteers.
Adapted from Jill M. Hudson’s
When Better Isn’t Enough: Evaluation Tools for the 21st Century