3 Signs You Aren’t Working in a Development Culture

From the top down, we have to be very intentional about development.  This is a focus on someone’s ability to lead and not only on the quality of their skill in what they do.  The higher value placed on a person’s natural talent or skill turns our focus to what they do.  When we focus on skill we start to focus on the tasks more than where and how they need to grow.  The higher the task focus…. the lower the development focus. Most organizations don’t want to spend the time and money in development.  They want the job done and not just well but done with excellence… the tops… the best! The focus is on the end result rather than what is going on during the process.  This isn’t news to anyone. 

The problem we face is supply and demand.  There is no factory pumping out the best graphics guy, the best managers, etc.  Without a factory, you face scarcity. 

Because we are now focused on the natural talents instead of the potential inside, we know it is not only talent it is also about their capacity for leadership.

You maybe thinking, “That is not me.”  Well, lets see how you measure up to these three common traits in non-development environments.


  1. Turnover.  This is one of the easiest to see.  An organization is failing when its leaders are only there for a short period of time.  These types of environments have a consistent pressure to find more people to serve and leaders to lead.  The usual approach to recruiting in this type of environment is by asking people to lead or join a team by saying statements like, “ You can do this role, its easy,” or “I really need someone to fill this role and you’re the best person for it.”  These tactics are not to say that the recruiter is being disingenuous. In the church world we are looking for ways to encourage people and see them do their best.  Once we get someone in the role, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are under-prepared to lead or serve in the role they were recruited for.  They start to see that its not as easy as they thought and a lot of the promises of what the role was supposed to be are not coming to fruition.  Expectations are not met and people are unhappy just 5 months later (or even sooner). The stages of what someone is feeling as they make a commitment for the role you recruited them for could look something like this:  1) Excitement = “I received a promotion and I’m excited to lead!” 2) Changes = “ There is a lot that is not working so I need to make changes to make this better.” 3) Not Changing=  “These changes are not working.  I’m not getting the improvements I asked for.” 4) Pressure = “I need to get people just to show up and I cannot get things done that are being asked of me. I am putting in way more time than I expected.” 5) The Team is Not Happy = “People are in and out and I cannot fill all the holes.  I need to recruit more help.” 6) I Am Not Happy = “Well this is not fun at all.” 7) I Resign = “I feel like a failure but this is not my fault.  I need to take a break.  I feel burned out, I am tired, I am busy with life and I do not have the time anymore.”
  2. Superhero Leaders.  There are never enough leaders.  Every time you turn around it is the same amount of people doing things.  There is “no rest for the weary” as they say.  They are seemingly excited not to just lead in one area, but in many areas. They don’t do anything else but work, they seem to volunteer for everything, they are called the “right hand man” the “go-to leader,” the person you can always count on, “the man with a plan.”  Basically the future poster child of the BURNT OUT.  These people are great when you have them, but leave a huge void when they are absent.  Once they leave, people are scrambling.  This type of leader has a shelf life- make no mistake about it! They can only go for so long.  Now, I truly believe that this is not done with ill-intent.  Maybe this type of leader sees their over involvement is due to a deep sense of dedication or maybe it is the way they were trained.  There is a list of possibilities.  There are certain people with an extremely strong gift to accomplish a lot in a short period of time.  In a healthy ministry, they can juggle their time and move things around quickly.  
  3. Low Accountability. We just simply trust people so much to lead well that we don’t ask people to be accountable.  Those at the highest leadership level can be so concerned with the finished results that they ask questions revolving around “is it done?” not how it was done, or who was apart of getting it done. These types of environments do not look for the details of developing people.  Perhaps thats because we know we would not like the answers we will get.  This is probably the worst out of the three, because the damage could be over a long period of time and affect so many.  You can have pushy, demanding leaders who get the job done at a great cost or you can have manipulating leaders in this type of environment. Sounds ugly, but it is true.  You can have bad leaders in a low accountability environment and not even know it. 

If you feel like this describes you or your work environment, let’s connect and work on a solution! You can reach us here and we’ll get started on the correct solution for you and your team.

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