July 08, 2014
Making decisions are an important part of a leader's organizational life. But when key decisions are looming, how do you get your Board, your staff, or your key team leaders on the same page?
Even if you have shared values, visions, or goals, you may still find it difficult to get consensus on major decisions. If this is a problem, one way to get everyone on the same page is to incorporate plumb-lines.
Plumb-lines are not original with me. I was first introduced to this idea from one of my professors, Larry Osborne. Plumb-lines are not only a different way of identifying and communicating values, but they become the rules of the road for clarifying the way decisions are made.
They are an effective tool for getting everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. Let me give you some examples:
Those are just some plumb-lines I've used over the years. Admittedly, most of these came out of the class where I first learned the idea. Nevertheless, as you can see from the examples above, they can be very useful. Here are some reasons why plumblines are an effective tool for any team.
1. They clarify "how" decisions are made
Everyone makes decisions based on their own preferences, expectations, passions, and ideas. Plumb-lines are a way of setting aside the personal and presenting a common and consistent measurement for making decisions.
By establishing plumblines that are mutually agreed upon it helps to alleviate decisions that are emotionally charged or based on someone's personal passion. It will also reveal the unspoken plumblines that others on your team are using.
2. They further clarify the level of agreement behind your values, vision, and mission
Alignment to the core essentials of the church is vitally important for consistent and coherent ministry. Plumb-lines help to keep ministries that are making decisions aligned to the overall values, mission, and vision of the church.
For instance, it is one thing to create a dynamic and inspiring program for children's ministries. Its another thing entirely when one of the plumb-lines is "disciples over decisions" which forces you to make different decisions and priorities in creating the program.
Let's say another one of your plumb-lines is, "Home grown is usually better than imported." This will dramatically affect the way you structure leadership development within the church. It is sometimes easier to find the talent from outside, but this plumb-line sets in motion a whole series of decisions in order to satisfy it.
3. They keep ministry focused on the essentials
This is one of the things I love about plumb-lines. They have a way of guarding leadership from "mission drift." That slow process that pulls you off course if you're not being attentive. A plane traveling a single degree off course will miss the runway entirely if travelling far enough.
Plumb-lines will remind you of the worth behind your values and keep you on course. These have been a great tool for pulling a team together and defining the rules of the road. They are a simple rubric for decision-making that honours the mission, values, and vision of any organization.
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If you live in Canada, you know that there is an election right around the corner. Canadian's go to the polls on Monday, October 21st, and if anything can be said about this election is that it's been a lesson in leadership missteps. Regardless, there are two factors that determine who wins an election.