DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Communicating For Change

Written by: on November 20, 2014

Last year I took my husband on a small holiday in West Wales, a beautiful part of the country with rolling beaches and sleepy towns. We selected a lovely guesthouse to stay in run by a friendly and Internet-savvy husband and wife, chosen specifically because they had five star reviews on Tripadvisor.

 

Upon arrival, the host couldn’t do enough for us, and as the stay continued, it became apparent why. She understood the power of Tripadvisor and wanted to keep her five star rating. She grilled us on what we thought about things, even the questionable mattress, which could have put her small business in danger of losing that all-important rating. The power of social media has influence even in that quiet part of the world.

 

The Internet has changed how businesses operate. No longer can management control how information is disseminated among colleagues and competition. Social media has created new rules of engagement, which no businessperson can ignore. In a 2010 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Charlene Li stated, “Open leadership is really about having a true relationship with people. The fundamentals of leadership are about having a relationship with your followers. And leadership doesn’t anymore come from a position that you’re given or how much budget that you have.” [1]

 

Personally I found Li’s book refreshing and inspiring, especially her focus on dealing with failures within a company. She writes, “How you, as an open leader, deal with failure is just as important as how well you deal with success.” [2] She explains how difficult it is today to hide failures in our Internet-savvy world, but successful leaders find ways to manage and utilize them to the organization’s advantage: “The key is to keep everyone focused on the larger goal, not the temporary setback. The greatest generals do not win every single battle, but they are able to rally the troops, analyse what went wrong, and make adjustments for the next battle.” [3]

 

I find this encouraging simply because I admit I have already made a mistake in my church planting venture this year (several actually, but I’ll just mention one here). As Jim Griffith and Bill Easum write in Ten Most Common Mistakes Made By New Church Starts [4], spending too much time in one’s office and not enough time ‘out there’ on the streets meeting people and sharing the gospel, is a mistake that many church planters make. I admit I am one of them. Although we are now working out evangelism strategies, I came to realise I should have focussed much more on this much earlier on, instead of spending so much time sitting behind my computer getting systems and policies in place. As Li explains, it is vital that leaders and employees recover and learn from mistakes, and how every company is vulnerable to making them. Even Google, which she describes, is “really good at failure”[5].

 

That gives me hope. Open Leadership has greatly strengthened my resolve to not only embrace the power of social media with all the necessary guidelines in place, but to embrace the power of failure, and to do so with open communication, online or offline, with those I serve God with.

[1] Benny Evangelista, San Francisco Chronicle, May 2nd, 2010, accessed 19 November 2014, http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/How-social-media-has-changed-executive-roles-3190130.php

[2] Charlene Li, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010), 218

[3] Li, 222

[4] Jim Griffith, Bill Easum: Ten Most Common Mistakes Made By New Church Starts (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2008)

[5] Li, 220

About the Author

mm

Liz Linssen

8 responses to “Communicating For Change”

  1. Ashley says:

    Liz, how’s Dubai? How was your time with Mitch?! How exciting that you two could connect.

    Reading your blog, it solidifies my theory that everything, absolutely everything, is built upon relationships. Wowza. Relationships enhance our world. Relationships connect people. Just think to the time before TripAdviser. Do you think the manager would have ever come out to talk in-depth with the guests? Perhaps by doing so, the manager has now connected with those from around the world and her life, not just her business, has been enriched?? Could this be one of the positive results to come out of social media usage?

    Regarding your last couple of paragraphs, I am going to start messaging you during the day to see where you are! Maybe you can make your “new” office a local tea shop! I find that my best ministry takes place at our local coffee stand. 🙂

    Hugs to you, Liz. You’re doing a great job…!

    • mm Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Ashley
      Thank you for your feedback! Mitch, Michele, Will and I had a lovely day together on Tuesday, and then we had to leave for Dubai, leaving them to cope with getting around in Wales!
      You’re so right, and Li touches on this doesn’t she? Social media has forced leaders to invest in relationships where they wouldn’t have had to do so in the past. But that’s a good thing, as I’m sure you’d agree 🙂
      Would love to keep in touch during the day! Message whenever you want my dear 🙂
      Thank you for your feedback.
      Have a great weekend,
      Liz

  2. Hey Liz,

    The house is great. Unfortunately the car has a major problem. The steering wheel is on the wrong side. This causes all sorts of traffic problems because it seems that this problem is pandemic causing everyone to drive on the wrong side of the road! It has been quite an experience for Michelle and I. And those roundabouts!! Oh my! What a challenge. Ha! Overall we could not be more blessed! You and Willy have truly blessed us. Don’t know how we could ever do the same for y’all…. unless you make your way to Florida!

    On to your post. You are so correct that management and higher-ups can no longer control how information, positive or negative is disseminated. The old “water-cooler” conversations have gone viral in our social media craze. This puts the management team in a defensive posture unless they understand what this age is asking of their leaders. Relationship is at the heart of this social passion. People what to feel that their opinions matter. If control hungry management does not understand this then they will not succeed.

    I made the same “policy focusing” mistakes when I pastored as well. I thought if I could get the right structure and foundation in place then we could build on that strength. But I was looking at the “church” as a business or building rather then as a living organism. Life must determine structure not the other way around. Find life and all the other things will come into line. Policies are needed but I was focusing on making polices on things that had no life the needed polices at the moment. Good Grief! The people is where the focus needs to be the polices will eventually come about when needed.

    Looking forward to being with your people in the morning! Bless you and Will!
    Thanks for everything.

    • mm Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Mitch,
      So great to receive your feedback, and sorry to hear you’re having difficulties with driving! Yes, I was quite worried about that because, as you say, there are so many roundabouts which need navigating. I do hope it hasn’t stopped you seeing Castell Coch. Did you make that yet?

      About the book, as you say, social media has forced leaders and managers to venture beyond their communication comfort zones. I also appreciate your feedback from your pastoral experience. You’re so right. I’ve discovered it’s tough planting a church cos there’s just so much that needs to be done behind the scenes, as well as meeting people where they’re at. I’ve focused on setting up so much admin stuff, that I delayed the much-needed mission on the streets. We’re trying to do it now, but how I wish we started earlier!

      You’re a real goldmine of information Mitch, and this week I’ve seen just how smart you are 🙂 I should pick your brains more often!

      Wishing you and Michele a lovely weekend,
      Liz

  3. mm Deve Persad says:

    Thanks for sharing your leadership journey Liz – there is great comfort in knowing that the path to success is often filled with many steps of failure…you’re not alone, many share that road with you. The challenge for all us is what you have correctly observed: “She explains how difficult it is today to hide failures in our Internet-savvy world, but successful leaders find ways to manage and utilize them to the organization’s advantage.” There are always aspects of our roles that we need to do, regardless of gifting or ability. However, I have also learned through my own failures that it is so important to pray for and then delegate tasks and responsibilities to others so that you can spend the majority of your time functioning in your areas of strength. Is your strength more on the administrative side or the evangelism side? If so, who can fulfill the other role and how can you equip and empower them to do so (even if it’s not done the way you would do it)?

  4. mm Liz Linssen says:

    Dear Deve
    Thank you so much for your feedback and encouragement. It’s good to hear how other leaders lead and your advice to pray first before delegating is appreciated.
    You ask some great questions. My gifting is definitely not in evangelism although it’s very much on my heart, and a priority I want to see in our church. Administration comes much easier for me, but teaching people how to develop a relationship with God is my greatest passion.
    Anyway, thank you for your wise words. Much to think about.

  5. Liz…

    One of the very helpful things you have done is to “normalize” that you are going to make mistakes and even have “failures” in church planting. You are not alone. But I also think that what Li is inviting us to do is to not be afraid to challenge ourselves (which you are doing in planting a church) but in that challenge to respond to it from who you are and not who we are not. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grow, but it does mean that we lead from our values. Developing and building relationships means all sorts of things. I think Li would be encouraging us to recognize why we want to build a relationship with someone (is it product oriented? Does it have an objective in mind) and “own” it, but also be ready to be surprised. Telile’s post reminded me that we have to remember the person – the imagio dei present in the one we are engaged with.

    Liz your steadfastness, your willingness, your approach to life and your deep desire to honour God inspire me … Hoping you are encouraged and strengthened as you continue on your journey!

  6. mm Clint Baldwin says:

    Liz,
    Thanks for your post.
    I would just affirm your perspective in your post and also echo Deve’s posting.
    Yes to what you said, but also yes to finding good people to be in their best areas of strength.

    As a different thought, I wonder what TripAdvisor is for churches? Or how many different kinds of TripAdvisors there are for churches?

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