3 Essential Aspects of Healthy Organizations

Every leader wants to make his or her organization healthier. Organizational health leads to increased profits, attendance, scalability, effectiveness and success. In short, it helps you complete your mission – the “why” behind what you set out to do when you launched or took the reigns from your predecessor. It’s at the top of the important-list, and it’s not something you ever stop working on. If you don’t have it, you find it. If you have it, you work to protect, maintain and grow it.

Making your organization healthier isn’t easy, but it can be fairly simple, and it’s absolutely doable. It will take some time, and will probably require some outside help.

Here are three things to start with, which you can’t have a healthy organization without.

1. Evaluate, set and live by your values.

There are several kinds of values you’ll find in most organizations:

– Stated Values: things you say are important. This may or may not be true, based on your daily actions.

– Accidental values: things you value that you probably don’t talk about and you may not even realize you value, but are evidenced by the actions of people within your organization. Accidental values might be good ones, but they might also be what’s keeping you from accomplishing certain goals.

– Aspirational values: things you aspire to live by, but aren’t currently evidenced by your actions. For example, you want to your church to be evangelistic, but no one talks to their neighbors and co-workers about Jesus, and very few people are trained to do so.

– Real values: things you say you value and live out, which are evidenced by your everyday actions.

You need to evaluate, set and live by your real values. Create personal statements where these values can be measured and are being played out in everyday life. Hire and review employees based on them. They are the undergirding of your vision and mission, and are the inspiration behind what you do as an organization. You and your people value something – be intentional about what that is.

For a great example of real values, take a look at Netflix, and notice the “you” statements that accompany each.

2. Include as many people as possible in the formation and implementation of the organization’s vision.

In my 20 years in ministry I’ve already witnessed at least three major cultural shifts in the pastoral mindset.

– I’ve gone from the pastor as chaplain (where he didn’t have all that much leadership authority, but was more of a concierge or Maitre D that existed solely for the church’s spiritual consumption);

– to the pastor as the CEO (where virtually all the power rested with the pastor, and the people were there to support his vision);

– to what I now call the pastor as mobilizer (which, from my interpretation is a much more biblical perspective, where the pastor is there to lead as an overseer [episkopos], and equip the church for the goings-on of ministry that effect not only the body, but the community in which the church resides).

Whatever type of organization you’re leading, here’s a phrase that we live by at Audia and Associates: “People support that which they help create.” Especially in the church, if you want the community of faith to be just that – a community – then you must mobilize as many people as possible to live out the values, vision and mission of the church. The best way to do that is to invite them to speak into it, and play a part in it. We have some proven tools we use to achieve this, and I would have killed (probably not literally) to have had this stuff when I was a lead pastor.

3. Have a clear, actionable and measurable pipeline for new leaders and leader development.

Discipleship (which implies multiplication) cannot exist without intentionally creating space for new leaders. When you invite more people to speak into the process, as we identified above, you will have new people come along that weren’t even on your radar before. We’ve seen it happen again, and again. If discipleship, multiplication and leader development are inseparably linked (and I believe they are) then this is an essential aspect of every church (Matthew 28:18-20); churches die without it.

Do these three things, and you’ll be on your way. If you’d like for our team to come and help, give me a shout. Our ministry is to benefit yours.

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