The 3 C’s for Leaders: Control, Competence, Clarity

I have recently been revisiting some work I’ve done in organizational leadership for my master’s degree and been rethinking leadership vision casting as I have been in my new role as a lead pastor.

There’s a tendency for many of us when we enter a new leadership role to roll out ablaze and give it all as we are full of ideas and ways of doing things better. Sadly, many young leader’s ideas/suggestions are ignored and can run into major frustration. The leadership crisis comes to a screeching halt with personal frustration, self-doubt questioning, and ultimate rejection as an obstacle to moving forward.

As a result? The quick fix response given to these young leaders are, “In time young man” and dismissed to the sidelines. These passionate young entrepreneurial leaders begin to wonder whether everything they have been taught in school and leadership has been wrong the entire time.

Over the past decade or so, I have been in the second chair and now in the first chair and can see from both perspectives. Without the proper three C’s, teams can be frustrated, apathetic, or even chaotic at times.

Here are my thoughts for the three C’s; Control, Competency and Clarity.


1. Control  

How much power/authority does the team members have in place to accomplish the task given?

For without proper control, the decision-making process is bottlenecked and slows down the entire process to reach the final goal. The traditional top-down monitoring system in every decision-making fall flat on its face and legacy is left to the dust of the world.

Why is control a big deal? Why do leadership organizations struggle with somewhat a simple concept? For change is difficult; not only for the whole of the organization, but on an individual personal level as well.

I remember one time being installed to a leadership role and was told, “The problem with us is that we do not have leadership.” As I began to examine the organization, I realized the problem was not a lack of leadership, but there was too much leadership. In essence, there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Why? For people love to have the power of control and are not willing to let go.

The bottom line is this; Working together with others can be difficult. Society likes the level of holding onto certain power and struggles to delegate and release the power through the proper channels of leadership structure.

Being in the cozy chief’s executive seat in the corner quarter is much easier than properly developing and equipping other leaders. The leader-follower relationship in an organization by not involving others and command/tell model is what people are more used to.

Part of the issue lies within the dilemma of control comes down to the following two; (1) issue of competence, (2) issue of clarity.

How can we begin to change the top-down / command-and-control leadership model? By leveraging the voices of the team by flourishing the credibility by being vulnerable by giving both competency and clarity.


2. Competence

Perhaps you may have noticed by now, proper control by itself is not good enough to see an organization flourish to its fullest. Control without competence is chaos.

How capable are your team able to effectively/efficiently execute the task?

Effectively is a fancy way of saying, “doing the right thing” Efficiency then is, “doing the right way” that creates competency within the group.

In response to this matter, what do churches often provide? Rather than “training sessions” they provide more “teaching sessions” Why? Too often training implies knowledge deficiency. However, the issues that ministry leaders face is not a “knowledge” base but is a “competency” base. The problem does not lie within knowledge deficiency, and traditional church “training” (AKA: teaching) is not the solution.

Another way leadership organization focus is working in greater detail in either the job description, personnel manual, or the governing documents to avoid mistakes of the past. However, telling people to pay attention to more details doesn’t quite help. Quite the contrary sets fears in the hearts of men to avoid the fine or punishment. What people need in working is to be rewarded for their work.

What is the solution then? This begins by clarifying the identity of the organization (competency flows out of identity), clarifying the purpose and mission of each role in the organization, and finally clarifying the specific goals by focusing on achieving excellence rather than avoiding errors or mistakes.

This often begins with the leader empowering and encouraging the team with proper control to accomplish the goal of the organization. Perhaps one of the questions that could be asked is this, “Does your team spend more energy trying to avoid mistakes than achieving excellence for the overarching goal?”


3. Clarity 

The third leg of the chair in supporting a healthy vibrant leadership is clarity. Along with competency on the side to this important as these leverages and distribute proper control.

How well does the team understand the vision/mission of the organization?

For if the team does not understand the “why” they exist and the plan set forth, then defeat is inevitable for the organization.

Now, remember the focus is on the “team” and not the “leader.” For even if the leader has a crystal-clear understanding of what a “win” is and runs straight into the battlefield as an onward marching soldier, without the team cooperatively moving together towards the price set forth, the leader is destined to fail epically.

How is this possible? This only begins by “trust” At the end of the day, whatever leadership organization you are part of, we are in the people business. The people must feel cared for and loved first to push forward to the overall vision and mission of the team. As a result, leaders must be open and encourage people for open communication and questioning rather than blind obedience.

When clarity is not given, the team is aimlessly doing the task without a proper destination. The team becomes a conveyor belt mentality to simply get the task done. Volunteers will show up to, “keep the show going” rather than knowing what their efforts are making an eternal lasting impact.

I have found out over the past several years, leaders who are leading change too often are unfamiliar with the people who are following. Basic background such as where they had come from and where they are wanting to go. These concepts can be seen by the rich history of the legacy that has been left behind and the overall realistic perspective of the organization’s represented principle that can be translated to the preferable future (vision).


Perhaps the best thing you can do as a leader is to simply walk around and take time to listen to the team for better clarity as you prepare to lead into the future.


The Art of Seeing Through the Leadership Lenses 

Perhaps you may have been asking many questions about why certain things have been done in your ministry setting.

Leadership is confusing and in today’s day-in-age seems ever-changing and ever learning. The first step to growing as a leader is to recognize, you do not know it all and a sense of curiosity and longing to grow more.

I pray the list above was helpful as you wrestle through as you grow in your personal leadership development.

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