Great leadership development churches have developed a ‘playbook’ that outlines their strategy, guidelines, and processes for discovering, developing, and deploying church leaders at all levels. Amplify Church in Pittsburg, PA, is one such church.
Amplify’s playbook describes four keys to leadership effectiveness that drive what they do. Two of these keys, shadowing and coaching, will be familiar as they have been explored in other resources we’ve shared with you. The other two, shoulder tapping and resolving conflict, are great additions to any playbook.
#1: Shoulder Tapping
The team at Amplify practices what they call “Three-Deep Mentoring” where every leader at Amplify Church commits to mentor at least two people who can effectively carry out each of their key roles. That allows them to be “three-deep” at every key role in the church. How do they do it? They recruit leaders to mentor by Shoulder Tapping. Here’s how that works:
After a leader has identified a potential leadership candidate, they set up a time to have a serious conversation with that person. This is not a time to just ask a quick question or make a passing comment. Shoulder Tapping conversations work best when they are one-to-one and in an environment that allows a leader to cast vision without distraction. The leaders at Amplify believe this interaction could change that person’s life and the lives of those God uses that person to touch!
During the conversation, the leader is to make sure that the candidate understands that he or she is going to be making a difference for the Kingdom of God, not just completing tasks. Amplify leaders are not just asking someone to lead the greeting team - they are asking them to help create an environment where people feel welcomed and loved.
They are not just asking someone to do a task on a production team - they are asking them to help create a worship environment that makes it easier for people to connect with God. They are not just asking someone to work with kids - they are asking them to create an engaging environment in which children can be introduced to the love of Jesus Christ. You get the picture.
A few things Amplify leaders keep in mind:
- They never say someone’s “no” for them. It is easy to think of reasons why someone might not be able to fulfill a role and decide not to even ask. They don’t punctuate the conversation with statements like “I’m so sorry to ask” or “I know you don’t have the time for this.” It is an honor to serve God. Leaders give the candidate the chance to make an informed choice.
- If a person says “no,” leaders at Amplify do nothing to make them feel guilty and do not assume that they made an unwise decision to tap that person on the shoulder. Sometimes it is just about timing. Sometimes it is about the right fit. In the end, great leaders put them into God’s hands. And thank them for talking about and considering the opportunity.
- If a person says “yes,” celebrate the decision and ensure that they receive the orientation and support needed to set them up for quick success as well as the appropriate welcome to reinforce how much they are appreciated.
Shadowing current leaders is the primary way Amplify develops future leaders. It starts with a relationship. The heart behind what they do is often caught rather than taught. When people shadow a leader, they will learn from their life as they see faith and love in action.
Practically, this means that a leader begins to “do life” with them. When possible, leaders join them for coffee or lunch, invite them over for dinner, etc. Growing a personal relationship with these individuals will give leaders a greater opportunity to be a positive influence on their lives and leadership.
The most important thing for a potential leader to understand is the WHY behind what they are doing. Amplify’s approach to doing church is constantly under review, so the goal isn’t just to help people understand their approach. The leadership always wants to make sure that potential leaders understand the purpose as well.
This creates freedom for the leader to make decisions that they believe will help fulfill and advance the vision, rather than constrain them to complete a set of tasks. As for the task side of Shadowing, it is a simple three-step process:
Step 1: Watch (I do. You watch. We talk.) – In this first step, the potential leader shadows the current leader on a given week or over several weeks. This is followed up with a conversation about what the leader did and why they did it. They ask for the potential leader’s thoughts, questions, and comments.
Step 2: Do Together (We do. We talk.) – The second step in the process is to give the potential leader some of the responsibility of the role for a given week or service. They do the role side-by-side, allowing the potential leader to have a hands-on experience. The leader then follows up with a conversation about what they thought, asking for their reaction to the experience.
Step 3: Do Alone (You do. I watch. We Talk.) – The third step is about allowing the potential leader to have all of the responsibility on any given week. Leaders stay close, making themselves available for any questions or concerns. Afterward, they follow up with a conversation about what they thought, asking the potential leader what their reaction to the experience was.
A key here is to define a specific date to release them to be “on their own,” but make it clear that the leader’s role as a coach is ongoing. Also, leaders make it clear that the new leader’s biggest responsibility is to raise up other leaders!
Ultimately, the goal for leaders at Amplify is to replicate themselves in the various areas of leadership in which they currently serve. As they do, leaders will ultimately end up increasing the number of teams and responsibilities they are able to support. The ultimate “win” of a leader should be that their teams and leaders run effectively not only when the leader is there, but also especially when they are not there.
Leaders will never transition out of the role of coach, and that is why coaching should be as common as breathing for a leader. Coaching is primarily about helping a person to get on track and stay on track. Coaching can take place in a few moments or may last a significant amount of time, depending on the goal and the frame of mind of the person being coached.
There is always some combination of positive feedback and/or feedback for improvement in a coaching discussion. Both are wonderful gifts.
• WHAT – explain what the person did – be specific
• WHY – explain why what they did was effective – be specific
Feedback for Improvement:
• WHAT – explain what the person did – be specific
• WHAT – explain the preferred alternative – be specific
• WHY – explain why the preferred alternative would be more effective – be specific
#4: Resolving Conflict
Anytime people spend time together, conflict is inevitable. If a leader at Amplify suspects that conflict has arisen, they aren’t surprised – they just resolve it. This CANNOT happen if the leader avoids it. One of the signs of a weak leader who will never fulfill his or her leadership potential is a fear of conflict. The earlier conflict can be addressed, the less destructive it is to the mission of the church.
When a leader at Amplify senses or become aware of the conflict, they approach the person and have a candid discussion about the nature of the conflict. It can start as simply as, “It seems like something is bothering you, please tell me how you are feeling.” A few guidelines for Amplify leaders:
- If that person’s conflict is with another, they encourage them strongly to go to that person. Offer to be a third party if the conflict cannot be resolved one-to-one.
- Leaders should discuss the perspectives of everyone involved with the goal of replacing the conflict with peace. Peace requires that all know that they have been heard and all involved choose love and unity over contention. It does not require that everyone end up agreeing on every point.
- If a person chooses to remain in conflict or be a cause of unnecessary drama, they need to be removed from leadership for at least a season. The vision and mission of the church just cannot be compromised for personal feelings.
Does your church have a ‘playbook’ for developing leaders? What keys to effectiveness have you identified for your church? What insights did you gain from the Amplify model?