This isn’t 1998 or even 2008, but too many leaders lead like it is.

And as a result, they can’t figure out why their team isn’t motivated, why they have a high turnover and why younger leaders don’t really want to work for them…or are always looking for a better opportunity.

Things have changed significantly in the workplace over the last decade or two, and too many bosses and organizations are still leading using old methods.

Here are 5 trends in team leadership every leader should be aware of because, well, things are changing, fast.

1. Your Title Means…Nothing

If you check the business section of newspapers in major cities (there are still newspapers, and increasingly, that’s a good thing), you’ll still see announcements that so and so became Executive Vice President of marketing at XCo, or that someone became Regional Director of Sales at YCo.

In a church context, you got an email letting you know that a seminary colleague became district supervisor or president of a seminary.

Guess what? Nobody cares.

Not anymore.

Authority used to rest in a position. Now it rests in a person.

Authority used to rest in a position. Now it rests in a person. Click To Tweet

Think about it. When you were in school, there were teachers you loved and teachers you loathed. The position of ‘teacher’ or even ‘department head’ meant nothing to you. You just wanted a good teacher.

Influence has nothing to do with position, and everything to do with the person.

Influence has nothing to do with position, and everything to do with the person. Click To Tweet

The two factors that most powerfully impact your influence at work these days are your personal integrity and strategic excellence.

You can have an incredible strategy and be leading a rapidly growing organization, but if you’re a jerk, your team’s not sticking around for long.

Conversely, you can have exceptional character and incredible integrity, but if you don’t bring strategic excellence that generates results to your work, you won’t have a high performing team, you’ll just have friends who love and respect you (as a person).

Influencing people is about who you are and what you help them accomplish, not about the position you hold.

Influencing people is about who you are and what you help them accomplish, not about the position you hold. Click To Tweet

2. People Don’t Really Want to Work For You. They Want to Work on the Mission.

One of the first characteristics of Millennials as they entered the workforce over a decade ago was that they were extremely cause-driven. They didn’t want to work to pad the bottom line or stuff the pockets of an owner or make a leader look good—they wanted to make a difference.

You know the stereotype: Millennials want to change the world and believe they can do it.

That’s laudable, and it has spread beyond just Millennials to be the thing most people are seeking.

Again, before you roll your eyes, remember (older leaders), you raised them to have values like these. And some of them are doing it. So cut the cynicism. (Wondering how cynical you are? Take this quiz.)

What this means though is that your mission is more important than ever.

Leaders who want to preserve the institution, pad the bottom line, or simply grow the organization will always struggle to attract and keep young leaders.

For the church, this should be easy. If you’re truly mission-driven (you want to reach people or impact your community), your ethos has an instant appeal to younger adults. Just keep the mission central.

If you’re in business, profit won’t be nearly the motivator that cause is. If you don’t know what your cause is, figure it out.

The best way to attract and keep young leaders is to work with them to accomplish a greater purpose.

At Connexus Church, our rallying cry is to create a church unchurched people love to attend and lead people into a growing relationship.

In my own company where my team works on this blog, podcast, my speaking and writing, the mission is to help people thrive in life and leadership.

Leaders, if the mission isn’t bigger than you, you need a new mission.

Leaders, if the mission isn't bigger than you, you need a new mission. Click To Tweet

3. That Said, Most Team Members Really Work for Themselves

I’m not pretending all these trends are logically consistent…they’re just trends.

As much as leaders today are motivated by working for a mission, most under-40 leaders also approach life as though they are working for themselves, not for you, whether you hire them as employees or on contract.

Sure, that might sound strange, but hang on and try to get into their head space for a minute.

First, any younger leader realizes they will likely NOT work for the same organization for 40 years and retire. Not only are the pension plans of the 60s and 70s long gone, but the workforce changes so quickly that most younger leaders expect to have multiple careers throughout their life, not just multiple jobs in different organizations.

Second, thanks to technology, the start-up culture is huge. Many leaders realize they can start things far easier than people could a generation a year ago. You can influence the world through your keyboard, your phone or a microphone. It used to cost millions to launch something. Now you can launch something on a Saturday morning for the price of a phone.

Third, we live (rightly or wrongly) in an era of personal branding. Couples have logos and fonts. And almost everyone wants to express their style through fashion, design, photography or lifestyle.

Most workers today see themselves as working for themselves, not for you. Click To Tweet

What this means is that most younger workers have subconsciously realized they have to create a life plan that’s independent of any employer or organization.

This isn’t fatal to any organization once you understand it.

What it means though, as a leader, manager or boss, is that you need to come alongside them and help them realize their objectives.

If you see those life objectives as competing with your objectives, you’ll lose people. If they see that you want them to win, they’ll hang around a long time.

Here’s the bottom line with young leaders: If you help young leaders win, you’ll both win. If you merely want them to help you win, you’ll lose.

4. You Can’t Buy Their Loyalty

Money helps, but money isn’t everything.

Most employers are familiar with the studies that show that once a worker reaches a certain amount of pay (approximately $75,000) a year, money becomes less and less of a motivator.

Don’t get me wrong, there will always be greedy people who can never make enough, but for the most part, once basic needs and wants are met, money becomes less attractive to people.

Which means that you can’t make people loyal simply by paying them more or even overpaying them in the hope they won’t leave. Raises alone won’t get you what you’re hoping for in a team.

Raises alone won't get you what you're hoping for in a team. Click To Tweet

I’m a firm believer in paying people a living wage…so I’m not suggesting you go cheap. Churches, in particular, are notorious for paying poorly. Pay poorly, and you’ll in all likelihood end up with less of a team than you hoped for.

So what do you do?

Pay your team in non-financial currencies. Want to give your team a raise money can’t buy? Pay them with respect, autonomy, gratitude, responsibility, a great culture and support.

By the way, this works wonderfully for volunteers too…because, by definition, you don’t pay them money. Cherish, support, respect, and empower your volunteers and chances are they’ll enjoy working with you more than they enjoy their day job.

Want to give your team a raise money can't buy? Pay them with respect, autonomy, gratitude, responsibility, a great culture and support. Click To Tweet

5. Remote Work Is the New Normal

Too many employers are frustrated with (youngish) team members who want to work from home, from coffee shops and have flex hours.

Large corporations are remodeling and getting rid of dedicated office space in favour of far more flexible options like hoteling, and remote work is becoming the new normal for most employees.

Still, far too many senior leaders struggle with it.

There’s a myth that still persists that team members who want to have flex hours or who want to do remote work are lazy.

They’re not lazy. They’re living in the 21st century. We have this thing called the internet these days, and it’s not going away soon.

Remote workers aren't lazy. They're living in the 21st century. We have this thing called the internet these days, and apparently, employers, it's not going away soon. Click To Tweet

Gone are the days when you needed a central location that everyone reported at a set hour to do set work. Sure, if you run a factory that produces widgets, you probably still run that kind of a business.

But if you work in a church or in an office, arguably, you don’t anymore. If you run reception, sure, you need set hours and a set location. Ditto if your job requires some form of manual labour or production.

But everyone else? Nope.

So what’s the bottom line?

Remote workers aren’t lazy. Lazy workers are lazy.

Remote workers aren't lazy. Lazy workers are lazy. Click To Tweet

If you have a lazy team member, deal with it. If they don’t improve, release them.

But embrace remote work and remote workers. What you’ll discover is that productivity actually increases (often dramatically), costs go down and you begin to attract some of the best and brightest talent out there.

Will you need some set hours where everyone’s together? Of course. Many organizations have common days where everyone’s in the office but give freedom on other days.

So how do you evaluate people then if you can’t see them?

Well, first, being chained to a desk rarely improves anyone’s motivation or productivity.

And second, evaluate on them on results, not process. NOT producing is entirely different than how they’re producing.

If you focus on the outcome, not the process, you usually get a better outcome.

Leaders, evaluate your team on results, not process. NOT producing is entirely different than how someone is producing. If you focus on the outcome, not the process, you usually get a better outcome. Click To Tweet

Another Thing That’s Changing… Lowering Employee Health Care Costs

In the last few years in the United States, health care costs have been on an upward spiral, putting extra strain on both employees and employers.

It’s easy to think the only option is to pay more and get less. Well, not anymore.

Remodel Health (one of our blog and podcast partners) uses technology to develop a healthcare solution that is personalized and more affordable for employees and employers.

Their mission is to repurpose a billion dollars back into the ministry of churches and faith-based organizations by lowering premiums while raising the level of health benefits employees receive.

On average, Remodel Health saves clients 34%. Imagine repurposing 34% of your health care premiums back into your mission AND helping your employees find better coverage with lower annual exposure.

If you want to move into the future with healthcare, check out Remodel Health today.

Download their free buying guide and book a free consultation here.

What’s Changing In Your View?

What do you see changing in team leadership?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

5 Trends in Team Leadership No Leader Can Afford To Ignore in 2018


  1. Anne@CMM World on October 23, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Carey,

    I totally agree with you. The 5 trends you mention, employees now are millennials. They do what they want and usually stand firm on what they believe in. Some companies follow these new trends some don’t, maybe because of data security threat or anything. It really depends on the industry and field of business if it is possible to have remote work. I get to try the work from home, benefits and job offer depends on the company if they hire remote workers to save on office space, mandated benefits and tax maybe? I am not sure with that one though. But based on my experience, I don’t have the same benefits office workers are getting and my salary is cheaper also.

  2. Cecil Cogswell on October 12, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Check out Benecaid in Canada which is a health care plan that allows your employer to pay your premiums tax free, and you get to use the funds as you wish for legitimate health care. In a sense this allows you be more strategic with how you spend the premiums you are putting into an insurance account. This is great for families that may have a spouse with a limited plan and one without. Combine the two into a “make sense” strategy. It is a bascially a tax free health savings plan which can be used more efficiently and with a lower cost.

  3. Jeremy Scudder on October 11, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for growing us Carey. I listen to your podcast regularly and am often heard saying, “I just heard something on Carey’s podcast that I think you should listen to…” haha. You’re making a difference here in TX

    I’m 45 and been in ministry for 20years. I like freedom and have never really loved when someone has told me “how” to do a job. I work hard, and get the job done. Now I’m learning to manage (I have a LOT to learn). I wrote job descriptions for my direct reports that were broad strokes and missional—what Inwould have wanted. My direct reports are Millenials and I have had some of them say they wish I would lay out exactly what I want them to do—complete with deadlines, details, and how-tos. I’m wondering, is there any area where you’re seeing this trend, among Millenials?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 12, 2018 at 5:53 am

      Thanks Jeremy. Appreciate the encouragement!

      I think some Millennials, particularly when they are starting out, want coaching and help on how to do their job well, especially in the early days. But once they’ve mastered it, give them freedom. Coaching and control I think are two different things. Giving them tips and ideas when asked is helpful, controlling them is not. Make sense?

  4. Austin Walker on October 11, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Love it! I’m intrigued to see what remote looks like in 3-5 years. I am expecting there to be a shift that pulls back a little on that as people who thrive in face-to-face interaction crave that “shoulder to shoulder” working environment they can’t have when they remote office. I know that sounds “old” of me, but I’m only 30 and I know I do NOT function well working remotely on a regular basis. On days when I have a bunch of content to crank out, I’ll go to a library. That being said, more often than not my preference is still in an office. We’ll see!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

      Libraries are cool!

  5. Pete on October 11, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Hey Carey, thanks again for all the encouragement in your writing! I was wondering, Remodel health is based in the US so do they service Canadian churches?

    • Pete on October 11, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Found the answer 🙂 Remodel Health only services churches in the United Sates.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on October 12, 2018 at 5:55 am

        Sorry about that Pete! And I guess we have universal health care in Canada. 85% of readers are American.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.