Issue No. 307 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting summarizes a book I’d like to write some day—perhaps with a soul-jolting radical twist. And this reminder, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Inaccurate Premise, Unfortunate Conclusion
Peter Drucker said, “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”
So I’m been thinking lately about the power of questions. And I’ve been wondering…if I were to write another book…perhaps I would focus more on asking gutsy questions.
My next book might feature 8 essentials:
#1. SHORT IN LENGTH. Maybe 125 pages or less.
#2. LONG ON WISDOM. Include soul-stopping quotes like this from Dallas Willard, who noted that Christlikeness is “humanity as God always intended it.”
#3. STORY FORMAT. Leaders love (and remember) the business fables and novelettes. No one has time to read War and Peace, but they do read stuff like Lencioni’s Death by Meeting and Rodin’s The Third Conversion. Maybe it’s time for a short story about a 40-something pastor:
“Startled and disturbed at first, he is jolted into realizing that his assumptions about ministry priorities and leadership effectiveness need candid reassessment and a major overhaul.”
Yeah. That’s it—use questions to help him think deeply about his assumptions. Too many leaders are rushing right past assumptions and into the details. Like Donald Rumsfeld wrote, “It is possible to proceed perfectly logically from an inaccurate premise to an inaccurate and unfortunate conclusion.”
#4. MEMORABLE CONCEPTS. Great books have bumper sticker one-liners—memorable ones. Maybe:
• “Ask the right questions—in the right sequence.”
• “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” (Peter Drucker)
Then…perhaps weave in the critical interactions (and devastating results) of misunderstanding these three ideas:
• Unexamined assumptions
• Unintended consequences
• Unnecessary expectations
(Wow—that triplet will preach!)
#5. PAGE-TURNING INSIGHTS. This might work! If I were to write another book, I’d keep the story moving with minimal fluff and maximum soul-searching. This 40-something pastor needs to be transparent—and probably discouraged (what pastor isn’t?).
“…board members at a recent board meeting respectfully, but clearly, questioned our priorities. They suggested that perhaps we are working really hard on secondary matters and not giving enough attention to primary matters. I tried not to show it, but I was defensive about their questions and comments. It felt like a personal attack on me since I had led them down this path.”
• “We talk a good mission statement, but how well are we fulfilling it?”
• “We are wandering all over the ocean and leading this church on a feel-good voyage to nowhere.”
• “Is it true that the behavior of our longtime members is virtually the same as their non-Christian neighbors?”
• “Is there really something wrong with this picture?”
#6. SECRET SAUCE. Everyone wants to know the “secret sauce.” But here’s the fresh slant: back to basics. What if—and this would be radical—we eliminated all the trendy leadership axioms, foggy vision talk, and went biblical on the reader? What if…by asking the right questions, in the right sequence, the book inspired leaders on a journey towards Christlikeness and God-honoring character?
Maybe readers would have an epiphany of sorts, like what the pastor experienced in Chasing Francis, “Looking back, I realize that what I had asked for was ‘lights, camera, action!’ rather than ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost.’”
#7. PERFECT TEAM BOOK. Then, it’s gotta work as a group study for senior teams, departments, and small groups. Probing questions at the end of every chapter, like describing people who have fallen victim to leaderslip or demonstrated long-term leadergrip (two more memorable concepts).
#8. STUNNING ENDORSEMENTS! What if…seasoned leaders were to endorse the book? Maybe Wess Stafford would write the foreword? And endorsements by Mark Buchanan, Dan Busby, Jim Canning, Paul Cedar, Paul Eshleman, Tami Heim, Jerry Jenkins, Brenda Josee, Paul Nyquist, Bob Phillips, John Reynolds, Bob Ricker, John Van Diest, and Jerry White?
Wait a minute!
STOP THE PRESSES!
Skip Garmo has already written this book!
Thanks, Skip! The Leader’s SEEcret is perfect! (And you saved me a lot of time!)
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic below for: The Leader's SEEcret: Asking the Right Questions and Embracing God's Answers, by Skip Garmo.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) In this book, the 40-something pastor asked, “How can I lead my congregation to understand, embrace, nurture, and teach Christlike character to others?” How would you answer his question?
2) “In your church’s strategy for outreach, how much attention is drawn to the importance of Christlike character in the lives of those tasked to reach out to others? For example, it is prominent, is it a side issue, or is it seldom mentioned in discussions about outreach?”
In my cycle through the buckets, here’s a pop quiz from the Meetings Bucket, Chapter 20, in Mastering the Management Buckets:
POP QUIZ: “Everyone stand up. OK…now remain standing if your job requires you to attend at least one meeting a week. OK…now remain standing if you are in a minimum of five meetings a week (staff meeting, one-on-one meetings, etc.).”
I know…everyone is still standing. “But now…remain standing if you have ever read a book, attended a workshop, viewed a webinar or had coaching on effective meetings management.”
Often, when I lead this pop quiz, everyone is now seated. Good news: there’s help! Visit the Meetings Bucket webpage for free downloads and seven book recommendations, including Read This Before Our Next Meeting: The Modern Meeting Standard for Successful Organizations, by Al Pittampalli (read my review).
P.S. Read my latest governance blog, “Retirement Is Not in the Bible—Or Is it?” at the ECFA governance blog page.