SENGE, Corporate Culture, Learning Organization
- Culture Creation as Transformational Leadership and Empowerment
- Related Ministry Resources
An important part of missional leadership is shaping the corporate culture of a group or congregation. This is not “culture” in the sense of societal structures, socio-economic and ethnic groupings, etc. Rather it describes the “personality” or default patterns that become ingrained in an organization over time. This is important enough that one author says,
“Culture-not vision or strategy-is the most powerful factor in any organization. It determines the receptivity of staff and volunteers to new ideas, unleashes or dampens creativity, builds or erodes enthusiasm, and creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved there. Ultimately, the culture of a church shapes individual morale, teamwork, effectiveness, and outcomes.” (Chand, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code)
Culture Creation as Transformational and Empowering
Leadership and culture creation echoes the importance at least two of the four key competencies of transformative leadership. The first is “intellectual stimulation,” that leaders stimulate their followers to innovate and create by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways. The second is “individualized consideration,” that involves the creation of new learning opportunities in a supportive, encouraging climate where leaders welcome exchange. (Bass, Transformational Leadership)
A similar idea is found in the research on empowering leadership as articulated by Max De Pree, Warren Bennis, Burt Nanus, James Kouzes, Barry Pozner, and others. De Pree calls this “defining reality,” which includes being hospitable to the unusual person and unusual ideas. This leads to “organizational renewal.” Bennis and Nanus list emphasize “creating social architecture,” “strong determination,” and “enrolling people in a vision.” Kouzes and Posner call it “challenging the process by confronting and changing the status quo.”
- Samuel R. Chand, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration – The best church-related book on the issue.
- Will Mancini, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement — Explains how church culture reflects particular values, thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Shows leaders how to unlock their church’s individual DNA and unleash its one-of-a-kind potential.
- Patrick M. Lencioni, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else – An excellent, usable tool to help church staff and leadership teams anchor a newly established (strategically planned) congregational culture. Provides a simple “Organizational Health Checklist.”
- Erwin Raphael McManus, An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind – A fine example of how church leaders function as culture-creators or “social architects.”
- Michael J. Marquardt, Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask — Shows how to use questions to create safe environments for people to question and challenge the status quo.
- Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization — A business classic on how leaders help people think, learn continually, and free themselves from mission-defeating patterns.
- Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership — A classic academic manual.
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