5 Disruptive Leadership Trends That Will Rule 2020

A brand new decade is here, and with it a massive amount of change as well as a lot of potential. So here’s a question: why should trends matter to leaders?

For starters, we live in an age of massive disruption.

A decade ago we were still traveling to video stores to rent DVDs, purchasing music to download via iTunes, and taxis still had a monopoly in every city.

Leaders who miss emerging trends miss a lot.

Blockbuster went under. So did Kodak, Toys R Us and for all intents and purposes, so did Sears.

Taxi cab companies have unsuccessfully tried to sue their way back to profitability. And while buying MP3s on iTunes killed CDs, streaming killed purchased MP3s.

Leaders who fail to navigate the disruptive trends happening in our culture won’t be left with much to lead.

For several years now, I’ve kicked off the new year with a post on disruptive trends leaders need to watch.

This year, in light of an expanding audience, I’m doing two posts. This is a post on leadership trends—disruptive factors all leaders should keep an eye on. It’s new for 2020.

I also have this post outlining 6 disruptive church trends for 2020. While the trends are aimed at church leaders, the principles also apply more broadly as well.

So, in the hopes of helping every leader lead more effectively, here are 5 disruptive trends every leader needs to watch in 2020.

After all, if you see the future, you can seize the future. If you don’t, you won’t.

Leaders who miss emerging trends miss a lot. Just ask Blockbuster, Sears or the taxi industry. Click To Tweet

1. The Middle is Disappearing

If you’re looking for what’s missing from our culture, it’s the middle.

The high end and low end are thriving. The middle is M.I.A. with a trail of bodies behind it.

While that’s true politically and perhaps economically,  it’s also true in the marketplace.

For several generations, the department store was the middle—it had something for everyone at a moderate price. But now the department stores and the malls that house them have failed badly.

What’s left is the bottom and the high end.

Walmart and many dollar stores are doing just fine, emphasizing relentlessly low prices.

Paradoxically, the high end of the market appears to also be doing ridiculously well, with $700 handbags, designer yoga pants, high-end wrist-watches and expensive SUVs and EVs rolling off shelves and showrooms.

Cheap eats and high-end dining are both thriving, as are discount and exotic travel. So are personalized goods. Just scroll through Etsy or Instagram to see what creatives will design or build uniquely for you, from t-shirts to art to furniture.

If you're looking for what's missing from our culture, it's the middle. The high end and low end are thriving. The middle is M.I.A. with a trail of bodies behind it. Click To Tweet

So what does this mean?

Well, for starters, it means that being in the middle is harder than ever. While you’ve known this for years, it’s even more true now that leaders who try to be everything to everybody will end up being nothing to nobody.

It likely means you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to compete on being the cheapest, easiest, least costly alternative, or whether you want to offer something of superior quality and enduring value.

When it comes to serving people, it also means you need to decide whether you are going to offer race to the bottom take-a-number/not-my-department/press-6-if-you-want-to-hear-this-menu again customer service, or whether you’ll make your experience more personal, generous, empathetic and human.

Finally, although this will be extremely hard to pull off, it also means the middle is wide open for the taking if you can figure out how to do it.

Anyway, if you’re counting on the middle, as most leaders naturally do, think long and hard. It’s not impossible, it’s just that almost no one has figured out how to crack it in this culture.

Personally, I’d look at making what you do more personal, generous, empathetic and human. There’s so much upside there, and a world that is hungering for it. After almost being obliterated a decade ago, some independent book stores are making a comeback by being more human and creating great environments for guests.

Remember, even if you win the race to the bottom, all you get is the bottom.

Remember, even if you win the race to the bottom, all you get is the bottom. Click To Tweet

2. DIY  is giving way to DIFM (The Age of Pre-sliced Apples) 

You and I live in the age of pre-sliced apples.

People are willing to pay double, triple or 10X the price of a normal apple simple to have someone else slice it for them.

Think about that for a minute.

All you need, after all, to cut your own apple is a knife and about 30 seconds.

If someone told your grandmother this would be true one day, she may have died on the spot out of shock.

It’s not just apples. The next time you go to the supermarket (if you still go to the supermarket), look at how much prep is now done for you. You can buy pre-sliced cheeses, pre-cut meat, pre-cut and washed vegetables, all so you don’t have to.

Subscription clothing services that send you clothes to wear for a month or a season, shave clubs that mail you your razor and gear so you don’t have to shop, and food subscriptions that send you pre-cut everything so you can toss dinner in a pan and eat minutes later are growing exponentially. You can also now buy ready-to-go gift bags with tissue paper pre-fluffed. Just add your gift.

DIY (Do It Yourself) is slowly giving way to DIFM—Do It For Me (yes, I made that term up).

So what’s going on here?

Why would a growing number of people pay ridiculously more to have someone slice their apples for them?

At least two things are under this trend:

time famine; and

decision fatigue

In a culture where most people feel overwhelmed, overcommitted and overworked, people are willing to pay money for anything that shaves off minutes or does the thinking for you.

DIFM is the cry of a culture that no longer has the time or energy to DIY anymore.

So…think about the opportunity here.

Maybe the reason people aren’t accessing your product isn’t your product…maybe it’s the delivery. Maybe it’s just too complicated to access.

What can you do to make things simpler, to do what you do for people rather than asking them to do it themselves?

What would it mean for you to slice the apple for the people you serve?

In March 2020, I’m going to slice the apple for leaders in a way I’ve never done it before.

It’s something new I’m calling Leader’s Circle. It’s about gaining a new level of mastery on critical issues without investing massive amounts of time. And it’s about hand curating the right things, not more things for you.

And, it’s about trend #3 below: access. Something that’s all too rare and at least for me, of increasing importance.


You can learn more and join the waitlist here.

In a culture where most people feel overwhelmed, overcommitted and overworked, people are willing to pay money for anything that shaves off minutes or does the thinking for you. Click To Tweet

3. Insight and Access Have Become More Valuable Than Content

Content used to be scarce. And as a result, it used to be valuable.

To gain information, you had to purchase a book, buy a CD, attend a conference, jump on a plane for the meeting, or buy the magazine.

The last decade slaughtered that value system.

What happens to the value system when free content is everywhere? From podcasts, to TED Talks, to blogs like this, to YouTube to, well, anything, people now hate paying for content.

When information is free, it’s no longer valuable because scarcity drives value. And now there’s so much of it no one knows how to process it.

Which actually creates a new value system.

What’s missing from the current sea of information in which we’re all swimming are two things:

Insight (or meaning)


Information is not the same as insight. Insight brings meaning out of content, and that’s rare. Hence, it’s valuable.

Ditto with access. More and more these days, I read free content (or even a book) and find myself thinking What I really want is to sit down with the author and get answers to my specific questions. 

Because content is everywhere but insight and access are not, there’s a value inversion that’s happening right now in live events.

Value is increasingly related to the size of the audience. And it’s inverse. The smaller the audience, the greater the value.

Value is increasingly related to the size of the audience. And it's inverse. The smaller the audience, the greater the value. Click To Tweet

Think of a leader you respect and admire. How much is it worth to you to be in a room with that leader with varying amounts of other people:

  • 10,000
  • 1,000
  • 30
  • 5
  • 1 (you)

You might pay dozens or low hundreds of dollars to be in the room with 10,000 others. Maybe you’d pay the same to sit for a day with 1000 others.

What about with 30 other people? And what if that leader fielded your questions during a Q and A? My guess is you’d pay more for that.

How about a day with your favourite author/speaker/leader and 5 other people in an interactive day? Even more, right?

And what would it be worth to you to get 1 on 1 access for a day?

See the value inversion?

In an age where content and information is available for free to anyone, the smaller the group and the more custom the insight, the more valuable it becomes.

This has financial implications of course, but don’t just think of it in terms of money.

Your time and insight and the access to you as a leader has value. You can give it away if you want (and often you will), but to see the value is to be able to leverage the value.

In an age where content is available for free to anyone, the smaller the group and the sharper the insight, the more valuable it becomes. Click To Tweet

What this means for leaders is that who you give your time to and how you share insight drives value.

That’s true of your most valuable staff, customers, guests, attendees, volunteers, team members and audience.

So…one big change you can make in 2020 is to stop treating everyone the same.

Your best leaders/team members/customers should get the most access to you, and they should also get your best insights.

When you value people by being generous with your time and insight, they’ll value you more as well.

Just because you can’t do it for everybody doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it for anybody.

When you value people by being generous with your time and insight, they'll value you more as well. Just because you can't do it for everybody doesn't mean you shouldn't do it for anybody. Click To Tweet

4. Focus is a New Super Power

As technology continues to develop and expand into every area of our life, it’s harder and harder to avoid distraction.

One study shows the average person touches their smartphone 2617 times a day. And that’s the average user. Heavy users touched their phones 5427 times a day. That’s not an encouraging trend. 

And that’s just your phone. It doesn’t include myriad other interruptions from knocks on your office door, to impromptu meetings, to the million other things that distract you.

Here’s what’s true: a distracted leader is an ineffective leader.

The average person touches their smartphone 2617 times a day. And that’s the average user. Heavy users touched their phones 5427 times a day. A distracted leader is an ineffective leader. Click To Tweet

What this means is because so many people can’t stay focused, the ability to focus is now a superpower.

As Nir Eyal points out in his best-selling book, Indistractable, in an economy increasingly dominated by automation and AI, the most sought-after jobs now are those that require creative problem-solving, novel solutions, and the kind of human ingenuity that comes from focusing deeply on the task at hand. (Nir, also the author of the incredibly influential book Hooked—which changed Silicon Valley—will be a guest on my leadership podcast in 2020. You can subscribe to my podcast for free here.)

If you really want to grow your leadership and skills set in the future, focus on your ability to focus.

While this is a much bigger issue that I can tackle in this post, here are a few things to get you started:

Set your phone and devices to Do Not Disturb….forever. I’ve done this for years. I promise you it’s powerfully freeing.

Turn off all notifications on all apps on all devices.

Protect at least 3 hours each day to do your most important work, and let nothing distract you.

Give up on multi-tasking and focus on one thing deeply at a time. Multi-tasking is no-tasking.

Go to bed earlier and make the morning undistracted, productive time.

The result of constant distraction is stress, scattered thinking and shallow decision making—all of which are exactly the opposite of what you require to lead well.

If you want more, I’ve helped thousands of leaders focus more through The High Impact Leader course, which is available on demand.

A focused leader is a far more effective leader.

If you really want to grow your leadership and skills set in the future, focus on your ability to focus. A focused leader is a far more effective leader. Click To Tweet

5. Freedom and Autonomy are The Next Generation’s Currency

We’re about to watch the office as we’ve known it die over the next decade.

Don’t believe me? Ask most leaders under 40 what they think about having to come into the office at set hours when they would much rather flex their hours and do at least some work remotely.

8-4 makes total sense if all the tools you needed to do work stayed at the office. It also makes sense if you have a car assembly plant (or a coffee shop, or a retail store). Then you need workers to show up exactly on time for a shift.

But for information workers, the internet happened. And as a result, a very good chance you’re holding almost everything you need to do your job in your hand.

As a result, if you want to attract and keep great young talent, 8-4 doesn’t work anymore. Common, set hours are not nearly as necessary as they used to be.

Yet far too many leaders are stuck in the mindset that people have to be in the building from 8-4 no matter what.

You know what many workers would love more than anything?

Freedom and autonomy.

Freedom from 8-4.

Liberation from rules that no longer make sense.

The autonomy to set their own work hours and locations (coffee shop, home, the back porch, a beach).

The desire to be evaluated not on the process (did you stay till 5?) but on the outcome (did you crush that project?).

It’s 2020. You can give that kind of freedom in a way leaders maybe couldn’t a decade or two ago.

There’s a delightful surprise in store as well: When you give great leaders freedom, most will give you back far more than you expected in return.

Control them, and not only do you stifle them, they eventually just leave or start their own thing. By 2027, the gig economy will be 50% of the US economy.

If you’re hoping to attract younger high capacity leaders by inviting them to an 8-4 office culture, you’ll attract them to the interview and then simply watch the best and brightest (the ones with the most options) walk away one after the other.

I have a lot more on how to give freedom and autonomy to team members and set up a stronger, healthier future workplace in my High Impact Workplace course (which opens again for enrollment again in late January 2020)

In the meantime, here’s a download outlining 5 questions you can ask in your one on one meetings that will spike employee engagement and raise productivity.

It’s yours for free.

If you want to attract and keep great young talent, 8-4 doesn't work anymore. Common, set hours are not nearly as necessary as they used to be. Click To Tweet

The Fastest Path To A More Effective You in 2020 Is…

the high impact leader

If you’re honest with yourself, how did your time management turn out in 2019?  Looking back, would you say, “Man, I was so on top of stuff, I’ve got no issues heading into 2020?”

Or are you thinking, “I need to do better with time?”

Here’s one of the challenges with time management.

Nobody’s making any more time. Everybody gets 24 equal hours in a day.

The most productive person you know gets the same amount of time you do. So why are they more effective than you?

That’s why I developed  The High Impact Leader course.

The High Impact Leader course teaches you the system that I’ve used to manage my time now for almost 15 years.

I couldn’t believe the difference this approach has made for me. Before I created the system, I was leading a fraction of what I’m leading today. I also worked more hours and I was busy exhausted. My old approach led me to into burn out.

On the way out of burnout, I realized I had to live differently.

So I started reprioritizing my time, managing my energy, figuring out how to stop getting my priorities hijacked by other people, and in the process (by accident), I became far more productive, so now I can write books, I lead a new company. I speak all over the world, host a podcast, and still actually have time for my family and for myself. I even get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

How do you do that? I’d love to show you how to do that, in the online, on-demand High Impact Leader Course.

I’ve helped over 3000 leaders free up hundreds of hours each year and often 3 hours a day to do what they feel they never have time for and get healthier in the process.

The course is designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favor.

Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day.  That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.

Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?

Click here to learn more or get instant access.

What Do You See?

These are five leadership trends I see for 2020.

Obviously, there are so many more. But these are 5 that I think can really move the needle for you, regardless of what you’re leading.

I’d love to hear what you’re seeing and any comments you might have on this post.

Scroll down and leave a comment!

5 Disruptive Leadership Trends That Will Rule 2020


  1. David Owen on January 4, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Carey,

    I really appreciate learning from a diversity of leaders in your podcasts! I truly resonate with your observations about 2021. I’ve served (free) at my church for ten years after a lifetime of pastoral ministry including church planting and serving as a growth consultant occasionally, and I am astounded at how completely tone deaf our leadership appears to be with regard to understanding and connecting people. Reading the book “Shrinking the Integrity Gap” by Jeff and Terra Mattson reinforced my observation that much of what I see is the result of deeper issues in leadership’s lives that new techniques will not fix. I wish I had more answers for this, but from my view here, my choices are to wait for things to implode, or find another place to serve. Any ideas on this?

  2. Lucas Roberts on January 9, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Hey Carey! Been working on developing an online resources for worship leaders. This post is super helpful as I finalize some of the strategy behind it all. Content curation is valuable and it’s something I’ve always naturally been pulled to. I always find myself telling people about the things I’m learning and where I learned them and hoping that they find them valuable too. I was never too sure if it was even something people would be interested in, like a one-stop shop online for worship leaders with some original content but loads of curated resources and reviews, etc.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 9, 2020 at 9:26 pm

      Lucas…I think people would be very interested in that. Good stuff!

  3. Annalena Alice on January 4, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Nice article.

  4. Noel Anderson on January 4, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Twelve years ago, a youth pastor who was fond of working out of the office, was confronted by a senior staffer from a rather traditional downtown church. The youth pastor held up his phone and said, “THIS is my office!” To which the senior staffer replied: “Oh, is that how it works–you sit at home and we send you paychecks?”


    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 9, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      Ha ha. May I suggest the High Impact Workplace course I do. 🙂

      Glad that was twelve years ago but still that attitude persists. I think it’s dying, but it persists. And it’s narrow and based in a world that no longer exists.

  5. Ben Ellison on January 3, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Carey, I loved this read! I do have a question for you based off the DIFM section… I’m 22 yrs old and the pastor of a night service at my church where 75% of the night service attendees are millennials, but I am seeing more and more people wanting to come to church for pre-cut apples, but not wanting to learn to cut apples for themselves. Where is the balance of church leaders trying to cut apples for their people in a healthy manner so that the product is received better, but not pre-cutting too many apples where the people get lazy and too dependent on Church leaders for their spiritual nourishment?
    Grateful for you and your insights!
    -Ben Ellison

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 3, 2020 at 5:06 pm

      Ben…great question. Honestly, I would spend quite a bit of time this year trying to figure out what’s getting in their way, and take away the obstacles. Hope this helps!

  6. Linda Ranson Jacob on January 3, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Carey … so very interesting. I grabbed onto several of your comments. I still work and at 73 some technology is a steep learning curve. I’m creative still and am always coming up with new ideas for the organization I work for, Church Initiative. I’ve been thinking about doing podcasts for GriefShare and DivorceCare. I manage their Facebook pages and we are just getting started on Instagram. I’m also thinking about doing some FaceBook live for a book just released this past summer by Bethany House Publishers, “The Single Parent Confident and Successful.” I’ve done FaceBook live for GriefShare and DivorceCare. Had hundreds tune in and many watch later. Question: How much better are podcasts than the old Facebook live? I’m assuming after reading this post that Podcast go further and last longer than FaceBook live. Just not sure I’m ready for podcasts. I have been on several people’s and group podcasts as Bethany has set them up.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 3, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Hey Linda,

      Glad to hear that you are keeping up with our changing world! As for your question. I think it entirely depends on your audience. If you can get your audience to listen to a podcast, It would be a great way to engage them.

      I wish I had a better answer for you.

      • Linda Ranson Jacob on January 3, 2020 at 3:07 pm

        Thanks Carey. I’m thinking just to the FB Live for now and work my way into podcasts. I know it’s working for you so it will be worth a try – someday. 🙂

  7. Chris on January 2, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Excellent post Carey, and I enjoyed your live presentation of it on Instagram. Thank you for delivering content using multiple avenue’s. I appreciate your concept of investing time and access into your best workers/leaders. I have always had the mindset that my strong staff had it figured out, and that the group of individuals I needed to invest time in were my “fringe” or “on the fence” individuals. I believed that this group would bear the most fruit from my investment as I could possibly influence them in a positive way, moving them out of the fringe and into the stronger group. I am not sure the risk in this mindset is worth the reward, and I will be exploring your concept at a deeper level. My one concern/question would be this – how do you deal with the group that does not get as much access/attention in your organization that will inevitably feel you are showing favoritism? How do you motivate the “have not” group that says “well Jon is so good at that because Carey is mentoring him” or does the process itself instill an aspect of self motivation in those individuals?The individuals that have potential will step up, and the ones that don’t will leave?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 3, 2020 at 9:08 am

      Chris…thanks. Going to do more video this year. 🙂

      You ask a great question. It’s hard, but I think it makes sense. Not all people make equal contributions. For example, some volunteers will give you 10 hours a week, some will give you one hour a month. Many people won’t volunteer at all. I think it just makes sense that you give the volunteer who works 10 hours a week more access and insight than the one who works one hour a month or does nothing.

      It’s a similar pattern with high capacity staff, and yes, as much as people hate it, donors.

      You are doing things for everybody…but those who invest more and contribute more get should get more access and insight. When people push back for ‘spiritual’ reasons, take them to Exodus 18 and Acts 6, and then point to Jesus who heavily invested in 12 over everyone else, and in that twelve chose 3, and in that 3 selected 1. It’s a thoroughly biblical principle.

      Last thought. Tens of thousands of people will read this post. You left a thoughtful comment. I decided to respond to you. A good investment.

  8. Sylvia Acayan on January 2, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Carey,

    God has blessed me tremendously through you. I have been learning from you and your podcast guests since 2016, before I acted on the vision the Lord inspired in me nine years prior. Thank you for being the voice through whom the Holy Spirit has encouraged me to found and to lead John Paul II Foundation for the New Evangelization.

    Reading the comments and your response about resistance on the part of senior leadership, I am so grateful for our collaborative relationship with the archdiocesan leaders in Los Angeles– their openness to my initiatives. I see their support as a sign that this mission belongs to God.

    I am currently working on your High Impact Workplace course. God gave me a 22-year old co-founder three years ago. Being 63 at the time, I needed her to design a website. She has continued to be an invaluable partner on this adventurous mission to equip, empower and employ Parish Evangelization Leaders. Largely because of what I’ve learned from you and your guests, we are discerning a major strategy change from selecting older experienced Parish Evangelization Leader candidates to starting with equipping and empowering gifted, hungry and teachable millennial leaders who are currently engaged in making disciples.

    Thank you so much, Carey, for being God’s gift to me and to the Church!

    In the heart of Jesus,

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 3, 2020 at 9:10 am

      Sylvia…so appreciate this! Thank you! Amazing to be starting new things at 63! Way to go.

      • Sylvia Acayan on January 3, 2020 at 3:34 pm

        Carey, you’re welcome! And thank you for pointing out that it is unusual to start something at retirement age. Only by God’s amazing grace! I am now 66 and have begun conversations with FOCUS campus missionary team leaders to discern a lay community of millennial interns committed to the mission of John Paul II Foundation for the New Evangelization.

        I really appreciate your helping me to grow as a leader!

        • Carey Nieuwhof on January 9, 2020 at 9:29 pm

          Love the energy for all that’s ahead!

  9. Chris Smith on January 2, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Appreciate your insights and ability to discern trends that will impact all of us. To point #1, Disney Parks are another example of where the middle is disappearing – https://www.businessinsider.com/disney-world-expensive-middle-class-2018-12. I also believe #3 is so very true.

  10. Dan on January 2, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I’m curious if the DIFM mentality is more around automating as many of the small decisions as possible. In a world of more decisions at a faster pace, I’m always looking to automate the small things so I can slow down and take the right time for the important things.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      Interesting Dan. Perhaps. But I think it’s bigger than that. It’s about delivery more than automating.

  11. Melody Dalgleish on January 2, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Twice while reading this I thought, “Yes, exactly what I’ve been thinking!” When you mentioned wanting to just sit down with a leader and ask your questions…I have this feeling all.the.time. And I have put in my journal/planner every week for months now that I need to work on focus. Thanks for always being on point and sharing your insight with the rest of us!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 9, 2020 at 9:30 pm

      That’s great Melody!

  12. Kelly E. McClelland on January 2, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Carey I believe this is the best home run you’ve ever hit! I will need time to process this at a deeper and more personal level. I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me see how your thoughts and insights impact the steps I take in my coaching ministry in the coming year. I look forward to your content and find lots of good food for thought and practical ways to begin to take action. Lead on brother… we will follow and learn together!

    Thank you for using your gifts and calling in the way you do! I’m praying that God will multiply your kind and you can see the huge impact you have on church, ministry and business leaders and families!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      Kelly…thanks so much for the encouragement. Seeing the trends is one thing, but like you, I’m processing as deeply as I can. I think these are going to take years to figure out. Glad we’re in it together.

  13. Kris on January 2, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Carey
    I’ve followed you for a while now and everything you post makes so much sense, especially when it comes to leadership within ministry. The struggle that I continue to see within our church is a lack of trust from executive leadership and the need to control even the smallest of details. Sometimes I think it’s just me, but honestly it’s the entire leadership team that is treated this way.
    As a creative, I’m quickly losing my desire to continue contributing any of my God-given giftings to something just to see it red-inked or told flat out that my idea, or my vision or my would-be contribution isn’t a good one. I don’t mind correction or being told no from time to time but it’s as if our executive leadership believes they are the only ones who actually pray and hear or are capable of hearing from God.
    It’s made me question my own leadership abilities. However, I believe a leader…. a good leader, secular or within the church, should lead by example. They should trust their team… especially if they want their team to trust them! And, a leader who tries to control everything and everyone is actually in control of nothing. It makes me sad actually for our church, and The Church because I’m sure I’m not alone in this trend. I wI’ll continue to pray for our leaders and executive leaders too as well as the health of our church and I ask you to do the same!
    Thank you for always providing such valuable and encouraging leadership goals and truths!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      Kris I am hearing you and hearing this more and more. Can I ask you a serious question…and other who may read this? Resistant senior leadership is a serious issue. As a senior leader myself, I understand that I’m the obstacle to progress.

      My question is: can you think of anything that would help senior leader’s overcome their resistance? Is there anything we/I could produce that would help?

      Serious question.

      Cheering for you Kris. Don’t quit man…

      • Kris on January 2, 2020 at 3:13 pm

        Honestly I believe most of the need to control and the lack of trust it breeds within executive leadership, stems from the growing number of start-ups and self-made entrepreneurs. The problem is that a lot of people are going “all in” and even spending their own money to finance a goal or a dream. It’s risky business and people who do this have a hard time giving up control of anything… even ministry… especially if they’ve helped finance it on the front end.
        It’s scary to think that we have people who run churches and claim that everything belongs to God, but want to control even the tiniest of details. If executive leadership always takes ownership of everything, it leaves no room for organic growth to occur within the individual members of its teams.
        I think what leaders like myself need are the tools to stand up to bullying leaders, but without walking away either jobless, or without a ministry and with our integrity intact still. As for the executive leaders who act in this manner, they need to know and understand that just because they started something or created something, it doesn’t mean that they should forever hold onto it so tightly that they squeeze the life out of it and make no room for growth. A good leader wouldn’t do that. Good executive leaders who start from the ground up should want to breathe life into every leader they touch.
        I hope I’m right here. Otherwise I’m just not cut out for this anymore and I’m spinning my wheels.

      • Mark on January 2, 2020 at 10:24 pm

        Wow, it is ultra rare that a senior leader would ever ask a question such as that. My suggestion would be to let the people not in senior leadership be around those who are, even if you tell those not in senior leadership that they will be totally powerless. Sure, there will always be some senior leaders who think that everyone not already in senior leadership is terrible, but some might actually see that those outside of senior leadership are actually competent. Even allowing one new idea every year on a one month trial basis would be better than never allowing any new ideas at all.

      • Daren Wride on February 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm

        Senior leaders need to be challenged to be open to formal evaluation from those they lead.
        As a transitional pastor/coach I’m constantly faced with the fallout of lead pastors who are dictatorial rather than collaborative, who don’t allow significant input from others and who seem to be unaware of the long term damage being done to staff and the larger church.
        I believe all leaders have blind spots. But when you are a lead pastor holding the power of ministry/career life or death over your staff, they are very reluctant to point them out to you even though they are well aware of your issues.
        So in answer to what would help: An evaluation tool/process for lead pastors to allow their staff to evaluate them in a constructive way, and an increasing pressure to to make such evaluation normative.

  14. Bryan on January 2, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Hello Carey,
    I have been looking forward to this blogpost for awhile now. I’ve read the previous years’ as you have published them and always enjoy watching for how your insights are reflected in our own church leadership’s moves.
    I am intrigued by the Leadership Circle. You are talking language from my value system, especially as I grow older and realize the impact of the person who crafted the content more than the content itself in my own life. Time with the person increases the value of the content exponentially.
    I hope to see more about the Leadership Circle as you roll it out.
    Thank you for your work, insight, and voice. Your podcasts I enjoy most are like a chat around a fireplace where the stories and discussion go back and forth, vacillating between the deep and the whimsical. I listen to those multiple times: Ortberg, MacDonald, Wright, Peterson, etc. You have let me hear the voices of authors and leaders. It is a pleasure to lean in and listen.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2020 at 11:12 am

      Bryan…thanks! That’s my hope with the podcast, to bring you the kind of conversations you would want to have with the guest. And I’m really excited about The Leader’s Circle. It’s a whole new way of delivering high specialized content and community that we’re eager to explore.

  15. Ron on January 2, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Everything you’ve been writing about I tried getting my superiors to see at my last ministry position. Now that I’m gone, my heart still breaks over a high impact ministry that is doomed to fail because of short sightedness on the part of the executive leadership. I was one of them but felt like the lone voice crying in the wilderness. So thankful I can Point people to your writing so I don’t look like a complete freak in an age of Christians unwilling to see. God bless you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 2, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Ron…as much as I’d hate to say this is generational, there’s that aspect to it. I think it’s more mindset maybe than anything. But yes, you’re right. Some leaders get it and some don’t. Hoping 2020 is.a great year for you Ron!

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