Why Leaders Fail to Connect
One of the first chapters in What Really Matters in Leadership? discusses the importance of leaders seeing and addressing reality. Over the years, I’ve seen first-hand the danger and consequences of leaders who are disconnected from reality.
Have you ever been to a conference or church service, where the speakers just seemed to be talking over your head? It might even have been good content, but it was hard to find much to connect with.
I’ve seen enough of how these conferences get planned, especially within the Christian and ministry worlds, to explain why this sometimes happens. Many leaders and teams that plan conferences fail to ask one simple question that would connect us to reality, and make our events a much more fruitful, rewarding experience for everyone. We don’t ask often enough, “What would best serve the people attending this conference, at this point in time?”
Sounds simple, right? Maybe so simple that we think we’re doing it. In reality though, we tend to plan our direction based on many other things. For instance:
Personal inspirations or insights.
This includes “spiritual insights” we’ve gained from reading the Bible, tips and wisdom from other conferences or consulting articles.
Strategic plans and agendas.
This provides our leadership team with direction, so why shouldn’t it also guide our conferences and events?
What’s been done in the past.
Of course, this is the path of least resistance. Repeat what we’ve seen before, and what we think “works.”
Notice how each of these three guiding forces doesn’t actually have to ask the question listed above: “What would best serve the people attending this conference, at this point in time?” To that end, the planning runs the danger of being completely disconnected from the people at the conference, or in the organization.
So what’s the alternative? Maybe there are no easy solutions, but the next time we plan a conference, here are some ideas to start with:
Let’s try not to justify a direction or vision, just because it sounds cool, professional or “spiritual.”
Instead, let’s submit our idea to the wisdom of a diverse group of people (beyond just our own leadership team), who will debate whether it will serve and address the reality of the people attending the conference.
Let’s make it a point to not just repeat the past.
Reality always changes, and so do the people we’re serving… and so we must adapt.
What else can be done… any thoughts or experiences to share? Remember, true spiritual leadership is not disconnected from people or reality. It usually doesn’t drop out of the sky to one person, but comes about through multiple conversations and dialogue with people, and through a process of learning and refinement.