The most important question a leader can ask is one of five, prime, great culture insights courtesy of Lead Pastor Bill Bush, and Executive Pastor Dave Sutherland from Rock Point Church, a growing, thriving congregation in Queen Creek (Phoenix area), Arizona.
Bill Bush, Lead Pastor, Rock Point Church
Dave Sutherland, Executive Pastor, Rock Point Church
Bottom line: It’s all about trust. Here’s why it matters more than you think.
1. Be genuine and honest from the start.
"One of our core values is authenticity," says Bill. In fact, we value transparency over perfection. We want people to be real and genuine, because if you don't own your failure, your failure will always own you, and you'll never experience victory."
2. Let the last 10% of your next crucial conversation be pure gold.
Thanks to Bill and Dave’s leadership, Rock Point Church is cultivating Healthy Communication, one of the eight proven drivers of Flourishing Culture you’ll find in BCWI’s well-known Staff Engagement Survey.
Try this winning best practice in your next team meeting: “In every conversation—from one-to-ones to off-site retreats,” says Dave, “we make sure things don’t get left unsaid. That’s because people will cover about 90% of what’s bothering them. It’s that unspoken 10% where people feel anxious, uptight, and unresolved. Our people now get this, and after "everything's been said," we make sure to ask, 'Did everyone say the last 10%?' This creates honesty, openness, care, and grace among our staff."
3. Air possible grievances upfront (or things might go sideways in a hurry)
Dave recalls, “Prior to our lead team retreat, we sensed a lack of trust brewing in prior meetings. We knew we had to address it, or the meeting could go sideways. So, we invited each person to bring up any issues they had with other team members.”
Bill continued, “We told them, ‘We’re not going to be hurtful; we're going to be truthful and honest. Now is your chance to say what needs to be said.’ We each took responsibility for what we had said or done, and we each gave each other permission to address it when it happens in the future. It was hard and emotional; we were able to turn the corner and move forward.” Because leaders go first, Bill was the first to solicit and receive feedback.
4. The most important question every leader must ask
Bill is so refreshingly honest; I think his middle name might be Authenticity. “If you don’t have trust, you’re going to fail.
“We constantly have to make really hard decisions and have really hard conversations. That’s when I’ll use the most powerful question a leader can ask. In fact, there have been some key, pivotal moments in the history of our church when this question proved to be the turning point, the crossroads, for moving forward.
"A lot of leaders avoid this question because they're afraid of the answer. So, they'll sidestep it and say, 'Here's the vision...’ Or, ‘I need you to get on board.’ Or, ‘What’s holding you back?’ As leaders, we need to be able to look one another in the eye and ask, ‘Do you trust me?’”
5. Why trust comes back to healthy culture and better ministry
Says Bill, “What has really transformed our culture is who we hire. When you look for people who are going to fit, then culture fits. We’re not training our people thinking, ‘You better be these core values.’ Instead, you find people who are your core values."
"We're really in the relationship business," adds Dave. "We need to take care of our team and who they are as people and care for each one as a person in healthy sustainable role, not stressed out and on the edge."
"And," says Bill, "we can't forget that one of our core values is FUN. To further the Body of Christ at Rock Point, we're trying to do something that sometimes, can be brutally hard. In all of this, we need to be able to laugh out loud. In all of this, we take our jobs seriously, but don't take ourselves seriously.”
“If you can keep your people healthy, grow as leaders, and trust one another, your ministry will be so much better for it.”
It's Your Turn
As you read this, who, on your team, has come to mind? What could you say or do to turn one of these five action steps into a fruitful conversation?
Coming Up Next in on our Continuing Series
“How to Make Difficult Conversations Work for You”
Sheila Heen, Founder, Triad Consulting Group