“Simple organizational structure and clear accountability are necessary conditions
for the exercise of effective leadership.” John Adair
Who doesn’t want to lead more effectively? Yet, leaders often resist being held accountable nor holding others accountable. Oftentimes, the pushback against accountability is it is believed to be a corporate practice. Accountability is very Biblical. For example, start with Matthew 12:36 where we are reminded the Lord will keep us accountable for the words we speak. Matthew 18 walks us through holding people accountable for their actions. Ephesians 4 teaches us about the need to speak the truth in love.
Another common issue about accountability is leaders don’t feel adequately equipped to hold people accountable. Accountability has not been modeled well for church leaders. Yet, holding people accountable is quite simple. It takes consistency and follow-through, but it is not complicated nor difficult.
When practiced in a healthy manner, accountability is actually a positive and collaborative leadership tool to empower and equip people. Accountability helps break through barriers, moves projects forward, builds the confidence in team members, and provides direction and clarity.
Here are the six easy SIMPLE steps to empower people for ministry and hold them accountable.
Make sure what is being asked of the person is crystal clear. Spend time going over details, providing clear direction and information, equipping, outlining the clear purpose and intended outcome, and answering their questions. This initial upfront investment will pay dividends over the course of the ministry, project, or event. Include timelines and deadlines for the project or check-ins during your conversation. Establish communication modes and timelines for updates.
Make sure the person is truly bought into the ministry or project. Ask her/him if you can count on them. Be sure to connect the importance of this project or ministry to the church’s mission and vision. Help him/her see how this ministry, event, or project is moving the church closer to the vision.
Establish and share intermittent markers and deadlines to assure the project or ministry is on track and meeting appropriate deadlines.
Check in to see how things are progressing leading up to an event or a ministry. Don’t wait until the day of the event. Celebrate the small successes along the way. Acknowledge growth in skills and leadership. Offer course correction, clarity, and further equipping when needed.
Link to Consequences
If after a fair investment of time and energy into the team member to ensure success, but the project, ministry, behavior, or performance is still not going well, not improving, deadlines are being missed, output is inferior, etc, then the person needs to be removed from the ministry to serve in another capacity where they are more gifted. Leaving them to continue to serve where s/he is not effective nor fruitful is poor stewardship for the church and the ministry and can have a ripple effect well beyond our comprehension. Furthermore, leaving the person in a ministry where s/he is not aligned with his/her spiritual gifts is not being fair to this disciple’s development.
Did the outcome meet the purpose and intended outcome stated in the expectations? This evaluation is based on the results of the ministry or event not on the effort the person invested. Oftentimes if a great deal of effort was invested, ineffective or inadequate results are overlooked or ignored. This is a practice of poor stewardship of resources. Identify any tweaks or improvements that could be incorporated into the ministry or project if it were repeated.
Building a culture of accountable leadership is one of the foundational pivots for changing the trajectory of your church. If your church is not willing to hold one another accountable for ministry effectiveness or missionally aligned goals and resources, it will be terribly difficult if not impossible to fulfill the Great Commission to go and make disciple-making disciples who transform the world. Jesus told us this was the purpose for which the church exists. Don’t you think this is worthy of holding one another accountable for in our churches?
If your church is looking for a resource to equip leaders, staff, and ministry leaders in accountable leadership practices, check out this on-demand webinar on accountable leadership or this mock leadership board meeting demonstrating the practice of accountable leadership.