At the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator workshops, executive educator and leadership coach Kim Wells discussed the topic “The Strategic Power of Inclusive Leadership.” The event was held October 13-14 in Denver, Colo.
Wells, who serves as the Executive Director of Executive Education at the Howard University School of Business in Washington, D.C., said inclusive leadership involves six areas: knowing how to listen, getting feedback from stakeholders and/or constituents, not only listening but also acting, being a facilitator, having strong mental health, and demonstrating commitment to their people by action.
Wells noted that listening and getting feedback should come from a wide variety of sources.
“Are we talking to the people on the front lines? Are we listening? Are we coming down from our big offices and connecting? How can we have a forum where we are learning from our people? People are watching what we do, not what we say. How do we behave? How was that decision made? We can avoid a lot of confusion and strife if we include them in the process.”
He also explained the importance of a leader going beyond listening and being open to input from others.
“Don’t try to make big decisions in a vacuum,” he said. “There will be times as a leader when you have no choice, and hopefully you’ve done your homework. But inclusive leadership shows people that their contributions are valued. As we do that, we use our resources more efficiently. Ask the question: who else should we have here? We need to come out of our own sphere.”
Inclusive leadership also involves investing in the entire team, Wells noted.
“Provide learning and development opportunities,” he said. “Invest in them—invest, invest, invest. And not just the younger people. Let your older people know that they are still valuable to you.”
Regarding action planning, Wells explained the need for leaders to be aware of their own unconscious biases and how they affect others.
“Stop being unaware of your own behaviors and interactions, and educate yourself,” he said. “Ask for feedback to keep your unconscious biases in check. Inclusive leadership is not about race or gender, it is about listening—to different ideas, different perspectives, different people. And not just listening but engaging with others.”
Now in its ninth year, the gathering is a two-day event for EPC executive pastors and directors, church administrators, and others in senior operational leadership positions.
In addition to discussing recent challenges and opportunities in their ministry settings, participants shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration and operations, technology systems, personnel, vision and strategy, finance, and more.
The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable, which also features Wells and has the same format as the October event, takes place November 10-11 in Orlando. For more information, see www.epc.org/xpadmingathering.