Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

Training For Leadership In The Church Of England


Courtesy Upland Path Management:

Unless you have spent the last fortnight on a Pacific atoll, you will know that the Church has had what it no doubt believes to be A Bright Idea about how to improve the management skills of the next generation of Bishops and Deans. If you have not already done so, I urge you to read Psephizo’s blog post on the subject, which summarises the comments that have been made, as well as offering his own useful insight.

I had not thought to add my pennyworth. However, something that is glaringly obvious to me does not seem to have been mentioned, viz It Won’t Work!

Assuming you do not object to the idea of training bishops and deans as managers (which of course many do, but that is not the point of this post), there are three important characteristics of managers which the report does not address:

1. Managers are individuals, with individual strengths and weaknesses, and individual training needs.

2. Managers need practical training/coaching/equipping at the moment of need, not theoretically in advance.

2. Managers are part of a team – not every team member needs the same skills.


Identifying Future Leaders

Come off it! This is not a new idea – it has always been done, sometimes from the comfort of the Athenaeum, sometimes apparently in the gents at Church House. This is the way of the world, and the Green Report is not going to change that.

Equipping The Chosen For The Task

What is needed is helping those who have been chosen for leadership through these tried and tested methods to carry out their new role. Remember the Peter Principle?  The Church of England is about to conduct an experiment costing £2 million pounds which most of us expect simply to provide further evidence in support of this principle:

The Peter Principle is a concept in management theory in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in his or her current role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

Not to mention ‘those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it’.

Reflect On Your Own Experience

For example, supposing you were not born wired up to a computer monitor, do you remember when you first realised this was a skill you needed to master if you were to remain effective in the workplace? I hope you did not go on ‘a computer course’, which taught everything from Ada Lovelace and Babbage up to COBOL. If so, I doubt whether you took much in. People learn best when they are being taught how to solve a particular problem they have encountered at a particular moment.

How To Train A Church Leader

Do not, I beg of you, on bended arthritic knee in case that helps, offer training to high fliers on the way up. Wait until they have arrived in post. Then offer tailor-made ‘equipping’ to help with situations as they arise (or even better, as they are identified on the horizon). For instance, we are all agreed that the future Bishop Libby Lane is going to face difficulties, simply because she is the first woman in this role and all eyes will be on her. I hope that she will make contact with one of the other female bishops in the Anglican Communion and ‘buddy up’ – this is likely to be the most effective form of support. I also hope she will be offered training support as and when she needs it – probably a short course of a week at a time, say, at one of the management colleges on specific issues faced by all managers.

7 comments on this post:

shyoungs said...

I think the point that is being missed here is that the new scheme is as much about assessment (discernment) as it is about training. Surely the best way to avoid the Peter Principle is to find out if people have or are able to learn the skills needed to manage complex human and physical resources before the round peg gets stuffed in the square hole? The report makes it clear that not all those entering the scheme will go on to take up senior leadership roles, which implies assessment. Sensibly it also goes on to consider support for those who don’t progress into senior leadership. That hopefully will also be a positive recognition of their theological, spiritual and pastoral gifts that are the cornerstone of ministry.

I think perhaps a lot of the objections arise out of the terminology used, which may be unfamiliar to those whose work experience to date is wholly outside the secular. The discernment and development of gifts is central to ministerial development, and always has been. This is really just an attempt to strengthen that process. I certainly welcome the objective of the scheme to be more inclusive, and more open (less old boy network). It’s success will depend not just on the content of the scheme of course but on selecting those to enter and leave it, but to me it still looks a better option than the current preferment list.

It certainly isn’t about remodelling the Church into a secular establishment as some seem to fear.

(And I didn’t use the words ‘talent’ or ‘pool’ once. Until now that is. Once is OK)

19 December 2014 09:47
Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you for commenting, Stephen. I see from your blog that you are a trainee Reader, accountant and grandfather. Three very good qualifications for assessing the Green Report!

I don’t think I am missing the point about assessment/discernment so much as taking a different view of its value. Would you prefer to discern a potential accountant’s qualifications based on his general work, even from a stardom gene pool, or equip someone for a specific role as the need arises? The discernment process as currently used by the Church in selecting priests is notoriously unreliable, judging by results. I am trying to make the point that it is better to choose people on the basis of general ability/specific talents as they do at present. Once in the job is the time for such grooming as is proposed, not on a scatter basis in advance.

My experience is based on many years as a (secular) departmental training officer and I have attended and lectured at more seminars than I can count on how to develop people in an organisation. My experience of the Church of England is based on 66 years of sitting in the pews.

My chief objection, however (which I do not go into in this post), is the effect that the creation of this 11+ system will have on all the clergy, not just those that are not chosen. It will attract toadying careerists like Obadiah Slope, and create disunity.

19 December 2014 12:18
UKViewer said...

I make no apologies for reposting my comment made on Vic Van Den Berg’s blog post earlier

“Well said. In a world where we’re seeking unity within the Body of Christ, this is advocacy for disunity and the restoration of a #Class System, which I felt had disappeared in our Secular, Post-Modern, Post-Christian society.

As a humble, trainee LLM, I struggle to understand how both Arch Bishops could sign up to this. Do, they really want to create a new division of elitist clergy, just as we start to get some gender equality into the church?

The content and thrust of the measures proposed, show a total lack of knowledge of what is going on at the grass roots of the church and is totally disrespectful to the majority of Clergy and Laity (who are totally excluded from the pool) across the church.

The proposals will create a self serving, self perpetuating elite, who might as well be a masonic society, Grand Masters and all – and of course, the rich vestments that they will wear will match such grandeur.

It’s time to slim down, not build up. If business can function by flattening structures, perhaps it’s time that the church did the same.

Vest the power in deaneries, with elected area/rural deans and let the Bishops ponce around looking good, but without any power”.

19 December 2014 19:39
UKViewer said...

And this powerful post from @Partimepriest my comment there:

“A powerful testament, which articulate much better than I possibly could the feelings of disbelief, disenchantment and pure anger at the proposals contained in the Green report, a report more worthy of the Tory Party than a church for the weak, vulnerable, lost, imprisoned or persecuted. A church of service to others, not a church where others serve us?

This sounds so much like the protection of positions, the continuation of the #old boy net. under the guise of exclusiveness and elitism. It’s so wrong, that I can’t believe that both Arch Bishops have signed up to something, which seeks to create a cadre of people, who are self selecting, self preserving and self perpetuating.

Thankfully, I’m in a loving, caring parish, and a diocese, which is at least on the surface, all of the things that I love about the Church of Christ, but sadly tied to something which seems to be striving the be the ‘Conservative Party at Prayer’, to justify that description.

Thank God for the opt out clause – I don’t have to participate in or support this stuff, and that I can noisily disagree with it at every turn.
Rebel with a cause perhaps”.

19 December 2014 19:57
Joyce Hackney said...

Who trains the trainers ?

Laura Sykes said...

Very good point, Joyce!

21 December 2014 21:12
21 December 2014 17:39
Tom L. Parrish said...

Thank you for an ‘integrated’ overview on church leadership training. I agree with much of what you have said!!

27 February 2016 12:25

Leave a Reply

We rely on donations to keep this website running.