Two Simple Leadership Development Constructs.

Last week I talked about how different personalities have different learning styles. Do we take into account those differences as we guide them toward leadership?

Today I want to remind you about two little constructs that I’m sure you’ve heard about in developing leaders. Here is the first one:

  • I do. You watch. We talk.
  • I do. You help. We talk.
  • You do. I help. We talk.
  • You do. I watch. We talk.
  • You do. Someone else watches.

I think we can infer two principles from this one. First, be intentional about developing others. Second, don’t do for others what they can do for themselves.

That brings me to the second construct. It’s not as obvious. Any kind of skill development takes time and goes through a progression of stages:

  • Unconscious Incompetence.
  • Conscious Incompetence.
  • Conscious Competence.
  • Unconscious Competence.

We begin not knowing what we don’t know. Then we progress to thinking we can’t do what is being asked of us. As we learn how to do something, we really have to focus on what we’re doing the first few times. But with continued usage, the skill becomes ingrained enough that we begin to do it without thinking about it.

This progression is true for any skill development: playing piano, painting a room, driving a car, or sharing our faith. I often think about how distributing ministry to students and volunteers is like teaching my sons to drive. There was only so much modeling I could do with them. But at some point I needed to get out of the driver’s seat and let them take the wheel. In fact, I noticed that they thought they could do K turns, back out of the driveway, and stop smoothly at stop signs, until they tried it themselves. It turned out to be more difficult than they thought. But it was giving them experience that was the key to developing those skills.

Some time ago, Dr. Steve Douglass wrote to us as staff, We are all about spiritual multiplication—which involves passing ownership of ministry on to others. But that won’t happen if we view most of our disciples as “disqualified” for one reason or another.”

“If we find it hard to have faith that God is able to use them, we won’t even try to challenge them toward their potential as a leader. Or, we may embark on a process of discipleship that is so drawn out that people drop out needlessly.

“Am I advocating that we should ignore that people have certain barriers to becoming multipliers? No, not at all. I am just advocating that we:

  • Have faith that God can make people useful to Him.
  • Look for people whose hearts are right before God (“good soil”).
  • Work with them aggressively to use their strengths and grow in their weak areas.
  • Give them a chance to try to minister, perhaps a little sooner than we might think.
  • Encourage them throughout the process.

“Anytime you find yourself reluctant to do these things, think first of one of your own experiences or those of someone you know well. How “perfect” were you when you got started? How skilled were you at evangelism and discipleship? How different are you now than when someone believed in you and let you try?”

As you think about potential leaders, where do they fall on the conscious/competence scale? What are the next appropriate steps to move them to the next stage? And what stands in the way, on our part or theirs, toward helping them take those next steps?

Fall Coaching Tips


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s