Full-time pastoral ministry is a second career for me, and I still enjoy reading nonfiction books from the secular world on a variety of topics, especially leadership and teamwork. An important contribution to the leadership community as a whole and church leadership specifically is made by Keith Ferrazzi.
From the outset, the title intrigued me. What does the author mean by leading without authority? I automatically assumed it meant not leading in a hierarchical, authoritarian, centralized way. To some extent, he presents this concept through a report from 2016 that states, “The entire concept of leadership is being radically redefined. The whole notion of ‘positional leadership’—that people become leaders by virtue of their power or position—is being challenged” (7). However, leading without authority means so much more. The concept he introduces is co-elevation: “ ‘going higher’ together” which “nurtures a generosity of spirit and sense of commitment to our new teammates and our shared mission” (9).
Furthermore, he strongly challenges the notion that someone cannot exercise co-elevation leadership because that person is not in a “power position.” Everyone can learn to lead in co-elevation by (1) knowing who your team is; (2) accepting that it’s all on you; (3) earning permission to lead; (4) creating deeper, richer, more collaborative partnerships; (5) codeveloping; (6) praising and celebrating; (7) co-elevating the tribe; and (8) joining the movement.
Part of the co-elevation philosophy involves working across corporate “silos” that traditionally keep different teams/departments separated from one another when collaboration would co-elevate each team/department to meet and even exceed their goals—thereby elevating the entire organization.
I heard about a pastor who presented principles of collaboration at a board meeting. One ministry leader asked incredulously, “So are you saying that I need to share my interests and plans with these other teams?” This was one of those “aha” moments. Ministry leaders realized they had not tapped their full potential as a church.
Although written primarily with the corporate business world in mind, Ferrazzi states that the book’s principles can help any organization, including “charitable nonprofits” (10). There is a need to break down the independent “silos” of ministry and collaborate in “radical interdependence” (23) for the elevation of not only the ministries but also the church in the community, with the result of lifting up the name of Jesus Christ!
Another way to apply this concept to churches is in a metropolitan area where there are multiple churches. Sharing ideas, resources, even members with other churches is rare for fear that it will cause us to lose existing members or potential new members to a sister church. Consciously or subconsciously, we often become territorial. But what if we tore down these ecclesiastical “silos”? What if we learned to co-elevate for kingdom growth, and whatever church happens to reap the harvest, then so be it? Christ tells us that regardless of who does the work, we should all celebrate and rejoice together in that success (John 4:36)!
This book meets my hearty approval. It can benefit local church leaders as well as the broader sisterhood of churches and the larger corporate bodies (i.e., conferences and unions). Within each of the rules, Ferrazzi provides practices to help fulfill these co-elevation principles. These should be prayerfully reviewed and adapted to fit your context. You will not be sorry for having added this book to your library. I’m not.