Jon Taylor moved into the lead pastor role at First Christian Church of Phoenix during a major staff transition: the church shifted to a team leadership model.
Two factors helped pave the way for the transition. First, Jon had been serving at the church as executive pastor, so he was already familiar with the staff and ministry. And fortunately, Jon had recently read Leading From Your Strengths: Building Close-Knit Ministry Teams by John Trent, Rodney Cox, and Eric Tooker and then completed his own Leading From Your Strengths profile assessment.
The Leading From Your Strengths profiles, says Jon, played a key role in the team’s successful transition to the new staff framework.
Data Helped 3 Pastors Transition Well Together
Three pastors, including Jon, formed the new executive leadership team. Together with the rest of the staff, they completed their profiles and attended a Leading From Your Strengths event where they walked through the results under the guidance of Rodney Cox.
“We had some powerful ‘ah ha!’ moments,” says Jon.
Those moments allowed the trio to gain understanding of each other’s strengths, paving the way for a smooth transition. Each had different roles – in teaching, development, and administration – but “we had to learn to work as a unit,” said Jon.
Jon’s profile showed a strong bent to reflective problem-solving. He takes time and considers all options and angles before moving forward. One of his co-leaders, however, makes decisions quickly and firmly, which explained his high score as an aggressive problem-solver.
“It was uncanny how the scores showed we could balance each other,” says Jon. In one instance, when a conflict arose with a staff member, the aggressive co-leader was ready to take action immediately. Jon, however, encouraged caution. “Literally the next day, as we sat down for a meeting, my co-leader told me it had been right to wait,” said Jon. On other occasions, Jon’s co-leader came to him with these words: “You have been thinking about this one particular issue for a while. It’s time to pull the trigger one way or another.”
Humility was the key to putting the profiles into practice, says Jon. Each of the three leaders understood his strengths and did not set them aside. Instead, they were able to recognize when another team member’s approach was the best way and yield to it.
Data Helped Team Members Affirm One Another
Jon subsequently obtained certification as a LFYS facilitator and used the profiles several times for team building with his staff. Most helpful were the moments when each member self-identified one or two sentences on their individual reports that are most important to them. “By articulating one or two sentences, each staff member communicated what they wanted others to value in them,” says Jon. “Co-workers affirmed those strengths in that moment and thereafter, too.”
The FCC staff went further with the LFYS process by using Position Insights to write job descriptions for new staff openings. While they did not choose new staff solely based on their profiles, the assessments were part of the interview process with candidates. Then together the entire team plotted their strengths on the Strengths Wheel and identified gaps in strengths to articulate how they must compensate together.
Data Helped Individual Leaders Have a Voice
When one Type A-personality elder pressed Jon to develop an aggressive leadership style, Jon was able to use the data from his profile to put together a document that explained his strengths and how those strengths could benefit his team as a leader. That document paved the way for a frank and helpful conversation with the elder. Jon was able to express confidence in the elder’s ability to receive the information and use it because the document provided concrete ways Jon interacts and communicates best.
“The profile gave me the language and data I needed during the transition and beyond to express myself,” says Jon.
Soon after beginning to use the profiles with his staff, Jon became interested in coaching. His first clients found him through the church and via referrals. He uses the LFYS assessment as a discovery tool to supplement the coaching process, particularly in life purpose coaching, and now in his work with Coaching Mission International to provide coaching support, encouragement, and feedback for cross-cultural mission workers so they can complete their calling.
“LFYS helps individuals to discover their strengths and helps teams to function better,” says Jon. “I am a huge fan and I strongly recommend any coach, pastor, or leader to use this tool in their ministry.”
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