In his book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni makes a powerful case that intelligence is not enough when the task is leadership. Being smart helps, even working hard helps, but the additional quality which sets apart the best leaders is the ability to create healthy organizations. Being healthy is more important than being smart or working hard.  Being healthy begins with clarity. 

Lencioni defines a healthy organization as one with minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and low turnover among good members.  If we apply his assertions to the church, we can imagine faithful congregations with less dissension and greater clarity of mission, increased engagement of members, and back doors closed to revolving membership.  Which of us in ministry would not want those qualities demonstrated in the churches we lead?

How can we create a healthy organization?  In the book, Lencioni lays out a compelling argument for the four disciplines of leadership necessary for the task:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team.
  2. Create clarity.
  3. Overcommunicate clarity.
  4. Reinforce clarity. 

Notice that at the heart of these four tasks is the guiding principle of clarity.  As he outlines these responsibilities, he gives clear guidance on specific acts needed to accomplish them.  For example, in building a cohesive leadership team, leaders should stress Behavioral Accountability over Quantitative Accountability. Simply stated: How team members act is more important than their numerical results.  Surely Jesus would agree.

Lencioni devotes three chapters to the role of clarity in creating a healthy organization.  Leaders know the purpose of their organization, their goals, and their expectations of themselves and others.  Leaders teach and remind other members about these things until everyone else can also articulate them.  For Lencioni, this is a primary task of leadership. It cannot be given away or assigned to another person.  Lencioni describes the primary leader as the CRO – the Chief Reminding Officer.

If working harder and working smarter have not helped you lead your church as effectively as you would like, try working healthier.  Clarity is the beginning of this work.    

Adapted from a previous article, “When Being Smart Isn’t Enough”. 


Joel Snider
Joel Snider is the former pastor of FBC, Rome, Georgia, where he has served for more than eighteen years. Joel has been actively involved in coaching for seven years, serving ministers, small business owners, academic professionals and financial planners. He is a coach for CHC.