How Can Leaders Gauge Progress?

Erik Raymond —  May 9, 2012

Runners love their watches. This is because runners love to measure their progress. As a runner myself I am always looking down at my watch measuring my splits and trying to stay on pace with my goal. We like to achieve our goals therefore we measure our goals.

Leaders are no different. As leaders we may not be looking at our watches but we are always evaluating our progress and pace toward the goal. But how do you know you are getting there? What types of signposts indicate an effective implementation of the leadership vision and execution of the mission?

On the front end let me also say that these are assuming that we are talking about either the establishment of a church or the redirection of a ministry.

Let me suggest a few:

What do you hear? A key aspect of leadership is listening. If we don’t hear what people are saying then we have little confidence that they are really getting what we are trying to implement. And let’s face it, words are important. As a leader, are you hearing words and concepts that you would use? Are you hearing people speak out of and expand from the DNA of the church?

It is important that we are not just talking about the aping of the new, cool, hip and trendy words. Anyone can inject new vocabulary–just watch some teenagers. As a leader I am instead after the conceptual buy-in to the mission that translates to being on the same page. So, what do you hear?

What do you feel? If you are a leader then you lead out of a posture of being convinced of that direction. You buy in. As a church leader there are obviously moral implications to the mission. Christians want to see a particular tone and cadence established. Something would be wrong if you were trying to promote a gospel-centered ministry while there are repeated outbreaks of mistrust. So watch and listen. Ask others how they feel. Help gauge the pace of the plan by looking for your vision’s corresponding tone and mood.

What do you see? Leaders are moving, right? As John Maxwell has said, “Leaders progress while managers mainatain.(roughly paraphrased)” Maybe that is too much of an over-simplification but it helps to make the point that leaders should have a conviction, vision, and the ability to take others there. Is there progress towards the goal? Are you moving things ahead from where they were 3 months ago? How about a year ago? Do you see the vision incarnating in the church?

These are just some basic checks along the road. Like runners, leaders who “wear the watch” are trying to gauge pace and progress in light of the goal.

The all too lazy alternative to this is the leader who buys a vision and a mission kit and just adds water, hoping it will grow into success. It is not an organic, heart-felt vision but a prepackaged vision, shipped in from out of town. Instead of being on the ground gaging success and shaping people, the leader proves to be distant and hands-off. This type of leadership is not only difficult to measure but it is really hard to do; it’s frustrating.

So buy into the vision yourself, share it with others then listen, feel and look. When it catches on it is far better than a runner’s high!

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond