I promise that most of the thoughts in this blog will be my own, but today I am sharing a lesson from The Leadership Bible: Contemporary Leadership Principles (Zondervan, 1998). One of the reasons that it resonated with me is that I was blessed to be a part of a learning organization for many years. A member of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia since 1993, I was blessed to work with Pastor Donna Whitten as a volunteer until 2002, when I was hired on staff as Series Coordinator. Pastor Dave Ronne leads the Redemptive Arts area there and taught me everything I need to know about staying open to new ideas for communicating (story telling) and continuously stimulating learning in an organization.
Many churches want to duplicate the results that 12Stone achieves; however, it starts with an atmosphere of learning, growing, and improving. You can’t just duplicate the event; you have to duplicate the ethos.
Leadership Principle: The Learning Organization
Read Judges 2:1-11
Following a smashing success, it’s easy to kick back and rest, to assume that current knowledge and achievements will assure future success. That’s a dangerous attitude. Unfortunately, it’s the one that the ancient Israelites adopted after the death of Joshua and his generation. Joshua had led the Israelites in the conquest of the promised land. His generation had personally witnessed God damming up the Jordan River and orchestrating the fall of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 3; 6).
The next generation “knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). What a tragic and scathing statement. An entire generation had failed to learn in any life-changing way about God or his deeds. The void left by their ignorance allowed room in their hearts and minds to embrace idols and pagan peoples. Ultimately, it led them into sin and brought down the anger of the Lord upon them. They knew the stories of their predecessors’ successes and failures, but they didn’t learn from them.
When nations, organizations or teams stop learning, they’re setting themselves up for failure. “Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it” summarizes succinctly the situation of the Israelites as portrayed in Judges, as well as the situation faced by teams who haven’t learned from past experiences. Effective leaders know this. They do their best to create an atmosphere that encourages learning within their organizations and teams. They remember the principles gleaned through past experiences, and they help their people to apply them to new situations.
What are you currently doing to open yourself to new ideas? What structures does your present organization have in place to stimulate learning? What structures could it put in place?
The Leadership Bible is no longer in print, but can be purchased used: http://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Bible-Sid-Buzzell/dp/031091244X