The Benefits of the People Oriented Approach to Leadership Development

In the past few posts I have shared a little about the process we’ve gone through at Seacoast moving from the Program Oriented Approach to the People Oriented approach to leadership development.  In the Program approach we made public pleas for leaders, drew a crowd, stuck people in a classroom for eight weeks, dispensed information and expected them to transform into leaders.  However, we discovered several drawbacks to this approach: busyness, distance, timing, relational loyalty, artificial learning environment and self-selected leadership.

So a little over two years ago we transitioned to the People Oriented approach.  In this approach we ask our current leaders at all levels to be on the outlook for new potential leaders.   Once they identify someone they register them for an online class at .  That leader then becomes the mentor that walks them through the learning experience.  The learner is told to complete the first session which is an interactive online session that includes video instruction by a seasoned leader, case studies, discussion questions and forums.  When the learner complete session one he then meets with his mentor to discuss what he learned and receives an assignment that will reinforce those principles.  This continues until the learner finishes the class. (Okay I just gave you the really short version of how this works, but hopefully you get the idea.)

I will be honest with you the transition was not easy.  I will share more about the difficulties and our mistakes another day.  But the difficulty is worth it.  Here are the benefits of a People Oriented approach.

  • Any Time: Busyness is no longer and issue.  You can train leaders when they are available breakfast, lunch or dinner, seven days a week.  The mentor simply has to match his schedule with the learners.
  • Any Place: Distance is no longer a problem.  People don’t have to drive to the church for weekly classes.  They can go to their neighborhood Starbucks or meet in the convenience of their own living room.
  • Any Pace: Timing is no longer an issue, when someone comes in the middle of a semester desiring to be trained you can register them right away and start training them today!
  • Relational Loyalty: Because the mentor selected the learner and trains the learner there is a strong sense of loyalty to that mentor not to a classroom teacher who doesn’t really get to see the student in action.  The mentor is deeply invested and wants to see them succeed.
  • Real experience: No more artificial learning environments or role playing.  The learner gets real life, real time experience in the context of the mentors small group or ministry team.
  • Leader Selected Leaders: No more self-selected leaders and no more public pleas for leaders.  You now have your best leaders identifying and recruiting the next generation of leaders.

What can you do in your environment to help equip your leaders to equip leaders?

4 Replies to “The Benefits of the People Oriented Approach to Leadership Development”

  1. Speaking as a small group coach at Seacoast, I can tell you that the People Oriented Approach to leadership development works!!! Leading as a coach, and previously as a Small Group Director, this is by far the best approach to creating a CULTURE of developing leaders that I have come across. If you want to multiply your leadership and not just add a few leaders here and there, then start working this into the DNA of your organization or church.

    Thanks Mac, your leadership insights, and watching you put these principles into action, has definitely made me a better leader!

  2. Thanks guys, Hey Chris would love to get your mentoring testimony on video to put on a blog post one day. I know you are mentoring several leader here at Seacoast would love to capture your story. Thanks for reproducing yourself here.

  3. Loving this stuff. Very much where my heart is and I’m looking forward to learning more about it. Glad I listened to those Surratts and started following you on twitter. I’m learning already.

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