A “Working Model” for Leadership Development and Formation

In designing programming to meet the needs of today’s congregational leaders, we have been using a model that identifies twelve areas where leaders and potential leaders might learn and grow.  (Many of the tags in this blog are based on these categories.) This is a work in progress!  Here is a visual model:



Get a full color pdf file of this model.
Print out a blank Leadership Development Portfolio based on this model.


Building Block Descriptions

  1. Contextual Sensibility: Developing an understanding of changes in society and how those changes impact our churches.  (In today’s world each congregation has to make a case for itself to a skeptical public.)
  2. Multicultural Sensibility: Understanding how race and privilege operate in our lives and institutions and actively working to dismantle racism. Also understanding how culture affects beliefs, values and mental models and having strategies to bridge them.
  3. Generational Sensibility: Understanding that along with life-stage differences, there are differences in generations based on the societal shifts they experience during their different life stages. This manifests in different attitudes and values in congregational life.
  4. Systems Sensibility: The ability to understand that we are all interconnected and interrelated. A change in one part can have an effect on the other parts, even if we can’t see direct causation. Being able to “get on the balcony” to get the big picture. Understanding the idea of mental models and how we can challenge our own.
  5. Skills to Grow Other Leaders: A generosity of spirit and collegiality in identifying, mentoring, training and supporting other and potential leaders.
  6. Change and Conflict Skills: Understanding the dynamics of change, identifying adaptive challenges and being able to engage in strategies and creative conflict.
  7. Communications Skills: Understanding different styles of giving and receiving information and being able to communicate across those styles.
  8. Management Skills: Basic skills to keep the congregation running smoothly, effectively and with fiscal responsibility.
  9. Embodying UU “DNA”: Developing and embodying faithfulness to core UU values and theology. Knowing UU history and traditions.
  10. Mission Focused: Purpose-Driven Leadership.  Having a clear sense of the mission of the congregation and keeping the congregation focused on that mission.
  11. Spiritually Grounded: A clear, positive understanding and personal practice of one’s own faith in our liberal religious tradition. Able to “translate” and not be reactive to the language, beliefs or practices of other faith traditions.
  12. Emotional Intelligence: Forbearance. Presence and Functioning. Knowing and taking responsibility for one’s own functioning in the system. Modeling humility when a mistake is made, modeling grace when another makes a mistake. Being aware of what one’s triggers are.