Coaching: Steering Out of a Staff Mismatch

Coach Uses Profiles to Uncover Misalignment

A leadership team from a local church approached Dalton & Vicki Jantzen, asking for help in coaching their new pastor.

It was a typical assignment for this couple, who draw upon 16 years in the remote mission field and subsequent two decades in the business world as they coach and train leaders to be spiritually healthy through 30 60 100 MINISTRIES.

Dalton and Vicki Jantzen

Dalton and Vicki Jantzen

As leaders themselves, Dalton and Vicki understand stresses inherent in ministry. About a decade ago a friend introduced them to the Leading From Your Strengths process and the Jantzens attended an equipping conference, becoming certified right away. “Certification is invaluable for any leader,” says Dalton. “The profiles actually helped save our own marriage by giving us tools to understand each other and a willingness to value the other’s strengths rather than tear down each other’s differences.” Today, the profiles are an integral part of their coaching process.

Steering the Way Out of a Mismatch

Such was the case with the mismatched church and their lead pastor. The church elders had deliberately searched for a strong administrative leader and Bible teacher – and had gotten one. The previous pastor had exceled in shepherding.

So the elder team’s suggestion that the Jantzens coach the pastor to become more “shepherd-like” was a tip-off to Dalton. The team didn’t understand that the most effective leaders are coached to excel in their God-given strengths, not abandon them.

“First, I had all the elders, including the pastor, complete the Leading From Your Strengths profile as well as and go through [30 60 100’s] Healthy Relationships workshop,” says Dalton.  The subsequent data and the compiled team Strengths Wheel revealed that most of the team members had a relational, people-focused orientation. The pastor and just one or two key leaders placed in the task-oriented portion of the wheel, demonstrating their results-oriented, quick decision-making strengths.

It’s clear that the hiring team believed they needed a bold, aggressive man at the helm – and had hired one to balance the staff.

Therein lay the misalignment. Dalton worked through a six-month coaching relationship with the pastor, who came to realize that the elders had hired him to do one thing yet were requiring him to do another. Likewise, the eldership realized they didn’t want what he could offer.  In the end, the pastor amicably moved on and now six years later is in a healthy position as a pastor in another state.  The church elders hired another pastor who is much more relationally-focused and the church appears to be flourishing.

Lessons for Leaders and Ministries: Use a Certified Coach

Stakeholders in the hiring process can learn from this church’s missteps. “One lesson is this: teams need to beware of the pull to hire a leader with strengths that are opposite to what has worked well for that church,” says Dalton. A mismatch for the sake of balance may not work if a church is married to the idea of a particular kind of leader. “The team may impose unrealistic expectations on the new leader and the leader will be held to goals he is unable or unwilling to achieve.” That subtlety is best recognized by a skilled, trained coach.

But candidates can also learn a lesson from this particular pastor’s experience. If you are considering a job offer from a church, delve more deeply into a job description, even going so far as to invite the hiring team to complete Position Insights. This way, the candidate will have concrete data about the church’s true needs and wants for a particular position – rather than simply their thoughts of “what might be good in a pastor.” A candidate could even invite team members to complete the Leading From Your Strengths profile with a certified coach.

Dalton credits LFYS certification with giving him the tools he needed to help the team and the pastor to discover the mismatch and take care of it quickly.

“What if the team had gone into a stalemate and simply hoped the pastor would sense how much they didn’t like him?” says Dalton. “Or what if the pastor dug in his heels, as per his strengths, refusing to lose?” The result would have been a disaster – one that happens all too often in churches, leaving a wake of broken ministries and broken leaders.

Certification Is “Invaluable”

It was in certification training with Dave and Dawn Lind where the Jantzens learned ways to coach specific strengths differences. “Don’t be one of those leaders who says, ‘I can read instructions,’” says Dalton, recalling a Ph.D. elder who decided he would lead his church team through the LFYS process with no training, only to wonder why there seemed to be no measurable results in the end.

Indeed, it was Dalton’s certification training that helped him identify the improper alignment issues between the mismatched pastor and elders, allowing both parties to make adjustments and minimize damage. Certified coaches and instructors are available throughout the world and while coaching requires some investment, Dalton believes the benefits are unquantifiable.

“Any leader can get certified,” he says. “Get off the fence, take the profile, and get certified. The process works. And certification is invaluable.”

Prior to founding 30 60 100 MINISTRIES, Dalton & Vicki Jantzen spent 16 years as missionaries in the remote South American jungle. Subsequently, Dalton worked for 20 years in corporate leadership and as a consultant and Vicki has filled various education and business roles. Together, they lead Spiritually Healthy Leader and Strategic Planning workshops stateside and in remote areas across the globe. The Jantzens recently released their first book, Equipped To Win. Equipped to Win can also be found on Amazon. They have 3 adult children, 5 grandchildren, and reside in Lubbock, TX.


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