COLLABORATION - Leadership Mosaic

Much Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy,
intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire builders have been people unable to give and receive love.
—Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus
Summary: God’s story of redemption is rooted in community. It begins with the Trinity—the
perfect covenant community. Within the Godhead, collaboration is conducted in perfect unity,
diversity, and harmony. But human collaboration is marked by flesh and sin. To lead together,
people must grow in unity and ever-increasing maturity. Collaborative leadership requires organizational clarity—authority, responsibility, and accountability. To thrive, it also requires a
personal vision—adaptability, autonomy, and ambiguity. (Leadership Mosaic, p. 131)
Definition: Collaborative leaders empower the team.
From Complicated Organizations to Complex Leadership
We have identified three triads and nine principles that are essential to a healthy, holistic, and
collaborative leader and an engaging and effective collaborative team. Some may say, “Really, is
it that complex?” Actually, collaboration is as complex as human personality. Some argue this is
why every organization has its own personality. Some are integrated, whole personalities. Some
are disintegrative. We are working toward integration, wholeness, and fruitfulness. So let’s dig in!
The Message of Collaboration
The message of collaboration involves the Father’s call to unity, the Son sending us on mission with a diversity of
gifts, and the Spirit sanctifying us into harmony and maturity in love.
• Unity: Leaders stand united with a common confession. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were
called to one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is
over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4–6).
• Diversity: Leaders celebrate diverse giftings. “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure
of Christ’s gift. . . . And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip
the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:7, 11–12).
• Maturity: Leaders grow. “. . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
(Leadership Mosaic, p. 143)
1. How have you provided clarity of a common confession? Do people know what the
ultimate goal of their work is?
2. How have you promoted and made space for a diversity of people and gifts in your organization? How welcomed are people who are different form you in culture, giftings,
and personality?
3. How have you provide tracks for personal and corporate growth to help the organization move forward? Are the “weakest” links on your team seen as opportunities or
The Ministry of Collaboration
There is beauty in complexity when we’re organized around God’s mission. The mechanics of collaboration involves three things—authority, responsibility, and accountability.
• Authority: Leaders have power to determine issues and control jurisdiction. The church needs primary leaders
who serve as the first among equals within a plurality. The team rises and falls with humble, strong leadership
under God’s authority.
• Responsibility: Leaders have duties, obligations, and tasks they are required and expected to do. Leaders
should be tasked and should task others in keeping with their gifting and calling.
• Accountability: Leaders must submit to regular review of their actions. They must give an account. Accountability should be personal. It’s best if it happens in community and if it’s ingrained into the culture of an organization through regular rhythms of review.
(Leadership Mosaic, p. 149)
Authority, Responsibility, and Accountability1
• Responsibility + Accountability + Authority = Bureaucratic Leadership. In a bureaucracy, there is no power to
bring necessary change. A bureaucracy is safe in the short term, but it’s ineffective, and it lacks power. Over the
long haul, the organization stagnates, because it can’t change.
• Responsibility + Accountability + Authority = Authoritarian Leadership. Under authoritarian leadership, there is
no accountability. This kind of leadership may be effective and powerful in the short term, but it’s not safe. Over
time, the organization implodes as a result of poor decisions or abuse of power.
• Responsibility + Accountability + Authority = Reactionary or Impulsive Leadership. An impulsive leader or leadership team may have power, but they lack any clear goals or responsibilities. Over the long haul, impulsive leaders
just fall apart, and their organizations deteriorate as a result of mission drift.
(Leadership Mosaic, p. 150)
1. Where has bureaucracy started to develop in your organization? How can authority be
returned to its leaders?
2. How have people been marginalized through authoritarian systems? How can we atone
for past abuse and change for better future work?
3. Where have you been impulsive rather than responsible and strategic? Is the mission
changing or drifting in your organization?
4. Where does your unity and diversity need greater maturity? How will you lead your
team there?
The Mystery of Collaboration
Empower your team with the support they need to grow as leaders through ministry challenges.
• Autonomy: Leaders exist and act separately from the organization. They must have self-directing freedom.
• Ambiguity: Leaders experience volatility, uncertainty, and complexity. They must embrace the inscrutability of
leadership because God is unsearchable.
• Adaptability: Leaders make new things and think of new ideas. They bring their own imagination to bear on
their work.
(Leadership Mosaic, p. 156)
1. Adapted from John Edmund Kaiser, Winning on Purpose: How to Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission
(Nashville: Abingdon, 2006), 70-72
For the questions below, check yes, no, or sometimes as they apply to your organization.
Five Questions for Empowering Creative
Freedom in an Organization2
1. Are people who make mistakes or experiment with new ways of doing things being
2. When strategic decisions need to be made,
are the perspectives of frontline people
3. When something bad happens (a member
leaves the church, a new ministry initiative
fails), is the news acknowledged and is the
event debriefed for its lessons, instead of
used as a moment for punishment?
4. Are communication and interaction nurtured across all formal and informal boundaries?
5. Do people have a healthy view of the latest
strategic plan as “our current best guess”
rather than a sacred infallible text?
(Leadership Mosaic, p. 155)
1. In what way does your organization’s lack of tolerance or ambiguity undermine rigid
2. How are you adapting, i.e., bringing your creativity to bear on your work? Is it inspiring
3. Check the temperature of autonomy in your organization. Do people feel like cogs in
the machine or valued family members?
4. Regarding the nine principles, which two or three need your attention most right now?
2. Adapted from Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2009), 106.
Putting It All Together: This is structure, but how do we move within it?
Making Your MOVE From Passive Collaboration to Active Collaboration: In his book,
Turn Your Ship Around!, L. David Marquet breaks down the phrases that typically mark passive
and active collaboration.3
• “Request permission to . . .”
• “I would like to . . .”
• “What should I do about . . .”
• “Do you think we should . . .”
• “Could we . . .”
• “I intend to . . .”
• “I plan to . . .”
• “I will . . .”
• “We have been . . .”
This is not just a nifty leadership insight; intention is crucial to change. We must declare ourselves and have a fierce determination and commitment to collaborate. You don’t simply stumble
into a winning team. Let’s begin by reexamining the principles of collaboration personally.
• What personal ownership is required?
• What daily affirmations are necessary for the collaborative leader?
3. L. David Marquet, Turn your Ship Around! A Workbook for Implementing Intent-Based Leadership in Your Organization
(New York: Portfolio, 2015), 73–74.
Group Exercise
Step 1: Read carefully over each line (best done in a group).
Step 2: Identify which one you struggle with most; explain to the group with an example.
Step 3: Stand up and shout your line, Dead Poet Society–style, in your group.
Step 4: End with prayer for growth in these areas.
No more division.
I am the same.
I will belong.
We will fight for unity
(our “now” in Christ).
No more uniformity.
I am different.
I will be accepted.
We will celebrate our
differences (our “workmanship” in Christ).
No more passivity.
I am becoming.
I will grow.
We will envision our
becoming (our “not yet”
in Christ).
No more abuse.
I am powerful (my
words and actions
I will honor.
We will use authority
under God and for the
good of others.
No more abdication.
I am responsible.
I will own.
We will take responsibility for our role in the
No more hiding.
I am accountable.
I will be open.
We will submit to the
authority and review of
No more conformity.
I am unique.
I will be me.
We will allow others to
be individuals.
No more rigidity.
I am wise.
I will engage.
We will wade into complexity.
No more clones.
I am creative.
I will adapt.
We will adapt whenever
and however necessary.
For Further Study
Leadership Mosaic is about doing what you do differently. You already binge watch Netflix. Replace Netflix with something new. Following are additions to the Leadership Mosaic bibliography. Remember, we always aim for informed minds, warmed hearts, and engaged hands.
• Blanchard, Ken. “Collaboration: Affect/possibility.” Lecture, TEDx, San Diego, December 2012. Accessed August 1, 2016.
• Carlsen, Katja Birkegaard. Collaborative Society, 2014.The Future of Learning, Networked Society. Ericsson, 2012.
• Collaboration: On the Edge of a New Paradigm. Directed by Alfred Birkegaard, 2014.
• The Lego Movie. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Warner Bros., 2014.
• Us Now. Directed by Ivo Gormley. Banyak Films, 2009.
• Cloud, Henry. The Power of the Other. New York: Harper Business, 2016.
• Marquet, L. David. Turn Your Ship Around! A Workbook for Implementing Intent-Based
Leadership in Your Organization. New York: Portfolio, 2015.
• Shenk, Joshua. Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity. New York: Marriner,
• Hartwig, Ryan. “Teams need leadership (not Just a “leader”)!” Ryan Hartwig (blog),
June 3, 2012. Accessed August 1, 2016.