Challenging and Improving Toxic Culture – Part 1

Over the last several weeks, we’ve brought you content relating to our theme for the HGC Pre-Conference in Orlando coming up next week. We’ve talked to you about what a Captivating Culture looks like, Counting the Cost of changing the culture in your church and Counting the Cost of NOT changing. Last week, we emailed out a podcast by Craig Groeschel introducing the topic of Key Shifts in changing the culture of your church.

But what if the culture of your church is toxic? How do you challenge and improve that? That answer to that question in starring at you in the mirror. It must start with you.

I spoke with Greg Wiens on this subject, and this some of what came from that conversation.

Transformational Leadership

A transformational leader leads in such a way that the culture of the organization changes. The organization changes so much that it can never go back. The whole culture transforms into something different. Just like a butterfly can never go back to a caterpillar,  transformational leaders will pay whatever price, including changing themselves profoundly to see the organization changed at its core for the building up of the Body of Christ. Most leaders want to be transformational, but few are truly willing to pay whatever it costs to do so.

Change the World. Change Yourself.

Everyone grows up wanting to change the world, but very few people are genuinely willing to do the hard work of changing themselves. Herein lies the problem. One way you do the work of transforming yourself is you intentionally choose to surround yourself with people with differing viewpoints.

Abraham Lincoln is a perfect example of this. His cabinet consisted of five of his adversaries. He intentionally chose people challenging to work with, because he believed it would get him to where he wanted to go–that it would grow and mature him. Historically, presidents and leaders would surround themselves with “yes-men.” Lincoln knew that he needed to be able to see all sides of an issue to make the best decisions for our country.

Transactional Leadership

If the cost of becoming a transformational leader is too high, become a transactional leader instead.  This type of leader may also want a cultural shift, but transactional leaders tend to make changes about the way the organization functions. While these changes can undoubtedly lead to a better course for the future, the organization will not have a substantiative change without a transformational leader.

Think of it this way:

A transactional leader is usually about 1 step ahead in his/her thinking; a transformational leader is typically 5 steps ahead; and one who is seven steps ahead is a martyr. – Greg Wiens

Now that you can see the difference between a transformational leader and a transactional one, where do you think you stand at this point? Next week, we will dive into more detail as it relates to you personally, so be on the lookout for that post.

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