CNLP 265: Les McKeown on the Keys to Scaling Your Church Or Business, Why Growth Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You’re Ready to Scale, and How Scaling Actually Reduces Stress on You and Your Team

Les McKeown is back on the podcast, this time talking about the difference between growing organizations and organizations that are ready for scale. The two often get confused, and just because you’re growing doesn’t mean you’re ready to scale.

Les shares the keys to scale, which, coincidentally, also reduces the stress the senior leader and entire team feel. Getting bigger doesn’t mean getting more frenzied. Often, it’s the opposite.

Welcome to Episode 265 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Rather watch? Watch today’s episode via YouTube.

Guest Links

Predictable Success | Facebook | InstagramTwitter | Books

Text “do” to 72000 and receive Chapter 1 of Les’ new book Do Scale and the 4D Flight Plan.

Scale Con 2019: June 5-7, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Episode Links

94% of churches today are either not growing or not growing at the same rate as their community. Head over to today and discover why. Whether your church isn’t growing or your seeing growth, but hitting barriers, Church Growth Masterclass can help. Introductory pricing ends May 22nd, so act now to get the best deal.

Want to reach more people online? Pro Media Fire has the media solution that’s right for your church at Podcast listeners receive 10% off for life.

CNLP 112: Les McKeown on Getting Your Church or Organization into a Place of Predictable Success

CNLP 206: Les McKeown on Visionaries, Operators and Processors and How Each is Necessary in Thriving Organizations

CNLP 052: How Craig Groeschel Stays Healthy, Relevant and Passionate in Ministry

CNLP 173:  Craig Groeschel Deconstructs His Approach to Preaching, Leadership, Success, the Future and More

CNLP 194: Jerry Hurley on Keys to Scaling Your Ministry, Leaving Ministry, Leaving Corporate to Help Build Life Church and What Makes Working with Millennials Work

CNLP 207: Bobby Gruenewald on Leveraging First Mover Advantage, Innovation, AI, Technology and the Future Church

CNLP 228: Craig Groeschel on Handling the Pain that Comes with Life and Leadership, How God Can Redeem Self-Inflicted Pain and Bring Hope in the Dark of Personal Suffering

3 Insights from Les

1. Scaling organizations are rarer than people think

Many people think that experiencing expansive growth means an organization is scaling. Les argues that if an organization is working in an extremely fast pace without implementing systems and processes that empower managers to make decisions, it isn’t scaling at all.

The biggest obstacle in the way of becoming an organization ready to truly scale is understanding the behavioral and mindset changes necessary to implement systems and processes. This will lead a thriving organization that is ready to scale, because scaling can only happen after implementing proper systems and processes to reproduce success.

Once an organization is scaling, the model can grow as large as the market will allow in whatever footprint it chooses – whether that’s local, regional, national, or global.

2. The heart of a healthy, scaling organization is high-quality, team-based decision making

Many organizations think they are scaling, but they are actually still in the Fun Stage of the predictable success model. If an organization is seeing massively overwhelming growth, it’s not scaling.

There is one key thing that all scaling teams must get right: High-quality, team-based decision making. This is key for any scaling organization.

Managers in scalable organizations have learned the skill of lateral management – the ability to work with the people that are on their same level. When groups of managers begin working together to make decisions the organization becomes more capable of scaling. A decision-making process is a key tool that these organizations have to master.

3. As you scale, you have to learn to fly by instruments, not by your gut

An absolutely essential part of having early growth is having a visionary with great judgment. Early on and in smaller organizations, there is a leader that has a Golden Gut. This leader just knows when something is off or the correct decisions that need to be made.

The Golden Gut works for a while, but as an organization grows this leader will no longer be able to see the threats coming against the organization. This shift usually comes when an organization hits 20 full-time employees. This is the time when the leader has to limit the Golden Gut impulses, rely on key analytics to guide decisions and have a team that can implement Fly-by Instruments.

Quotes from Episode 265

At the heart of every scaling organization, there is a muscle that is producing high-quality, team-based decision making. @predsuccess Click To Tweet

Everything that makes you succeed comes from the discretionary effort of your people. @predsuccess Click To Tweet

What got you here won't get you there. -Marshall Goldsmith Click To Tweet

Succession means handing over the vision. @predsuccess Click To Tweet

If you don’t separate the leader from the organization, when they’re done, it’s done. @predsuccess Click To Tweet

Visionaries love fun. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 265

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Get Your Church Growing

Did you know that 9 out of 10 churches don’t grow? Maybe you’re leading one of them.

You likely didn’t get into ministry to watch your church plateau or, worse yet, decline. You wanted God to use you to reach new people with the good news. You wanted to see your church grow. You wanted to make an impact on your community that would outlast you.

But the odds are, it’s not happening. And the thing is, you’re not alone. We live in an era where 94% of churches aren’t growing or aren’t growing as fast as their communities. Barely 1 out of 20 churches are effectively reaching their neighbors for Jesus. Despite how desperately our communities need to hear and engage with the good news about Jesus, many churches are lost when it comes to reaching a postmodern culture.

That’s why I put together the Church Growth Masterclass. It’s everything I wish I knew about church growth when I got into ministry more than 20 years ago.

I can’t make a church grow. You can’t make a church grow. Only God can do that. But I believe you can position your church to grow. You can knock down the barriers that keep you from growing. You can eliminate the things that keep your church from growing and implement some strategies that will help you reach far more people. That’s what I’d love to help you do in the Church Growth Masterclass.  

In the Church Growth Masterclass I’ll show you:

  • The 10 reasons your church isn’t growing
  • Why even committed church-goers aren’t attending as often as before
  • How to tell if your church leaders are getting burned out
  • The five keys to your church better impacting millennials.
  • What to do when a church wants to grow … but not change

Hurry…the launch bonuses and special pricing end in 28 hours.

You can learn more and gain instant access to the course today.

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Next Episode: Carey Nieuwhof & Jeremy MacDonald

What do you do if your church is dead…stuck…stagnant, and simply not growing? And once it starts growing, how do you get ready to scale the growth barriers most leaders never figure out how to scale? Jeremy MacDonald interviews Carey Nieuwhof about the backstory of two decades plus in church leadership, from starting with three small dying mainline churches to the over 1500 people who attend today. Carey talks about how to jumpstart the mission of a dead church, how to recruit leaders, how to get people to stop expecting the pastor to do everything, and how to empower a team to lead the church past 1000 attenders.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 266.

CNLP 265: Les McKeown on the Keys to Scaling Your Church Or Business, Why Growth Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You’re Ready to Scale, and How Scaling Actually Reduces Stress on You and Your Team


  1. Ray Frangakis on May 22, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Thanks Carey. Great interview with Les.
    How do we get access to the chapter and 4D flight plan outside the US?

    • James on May 22, 2019 at 6:22 am

      I came to ask the same question!

    • Dan Doerksen on June 18, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you! I’m a Canadian and would love to get that flight plan. Come on, Carey, help a fellow Northener out 😉

      • Murray Colville on June 24, 2019 at 3:30 pm

        +1 for Australia… Thanks

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