At the Global Leadership Summit yesterday, Andy Stanley challenged us to do a “success audit”. The question was “What would you do all over again, if you had to do it all over again?” Looking back at the last ten years of my journey as Area Dean, I found myself focussing on the following three practices:
1. Build a team where everyone shares in both decision-making and action: When I became Area Dean I asked the bishop if I could form a Deanery Leadership Team. Our succeses have been built on the idea that you involve people in both axes of collaboration: decision-making and action-taking. I would do this again in a heart-beat.
2. Think Long-term: My favorite phrase has become “people overestimate what you can achieve in three weeks, but underestimate what you can achieve in three years”. Our biggest achievements have happened because we thought long-term – including our ten-year transition plan.
3. Create Solutions: Sometimes we’ve had to try a few different options before finding success, but we would not have achieved anything if we had not tried some new and original options.
Andy Stanley was keen to press us all to become “uniquely better” in our field. Milton Keynes Deanery is currently “uniquely better” in all sorts of areas. “We do what we are supposed to do, and better than the competition.”
The key question then to ask is “why?”. I think the answer is that we didn’t follow the standard patterns set by others. we inovated. In each of our three key success drivers, we didn’t do what others expected:
1. We were encouraged to develop “vision-casting” leadership where individual leaders set a vision and delegate. We went in a different dirrection.
2. We were scorned because we didn’t make instant changes and do things immediately. We took our time to build foundations, but then did better than others.
3. We were expected to embrace packages and programmes provided by other people. We often adapted ideas from elsewhere, or did our own thing.
At this stage in our history we run the risk of recieving the praise from others who then claim our successes as part of their own agendas without acknowledging our unique approach. There is also a risk that people appointed to new senior posts won’t know the story, so will turn back the clock. One of the things I need to think about is how we capture the learning of the past few years so that MK continues to be a driver of “uniquely different” rather just another franchise.