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What Business Can Learn From Church #1: Relational Trumps Transactional

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Identify and Hear Gifted Voices

Seth McCoy runs a coffee shop in the Hamline Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. Groundswell makes an irresistible Chai Cinnamon Roll—especially warm.09052013-192645_1939445287521_1284060023_32450336_4061200_o-150x150

Especially first thing in the morning.

Seth McCoy also pastors a church blocks away. A new sort of church that takes seriously the notion that people benefit more from dialogue than monologue.

Church and coffee shop each vigorously pursue their mandates: Groundswell makes tasty foods and strong coffee in a high-ceilinged, inviting neighborhood space. Third Way Church takes seriously the notion that community is much more than one guy sermonizing for an hour—you are likely to hear many voices if you show up at a gathering. Groundswell and Third Way Church inhabit the same neighborhood. This community connection also begins to bridge traditional divides, like the sacred/secular myth.

Talk with Seth the business owner and he may tell you how the leadership team works at Third Way Church: discussions can get “heated,” which is to say, leaders are passionate and vocal. One gets the sense they don’t hold back. On the church leadership team they’ve identified different giftedness or abilities in each of the leaders and they try to honor that particular voice. Often leadership voices in a church can follow some of the traditional patterns of prophet/apostle/evangelist/shepherd. Team members speak consistently from their expertise—which is also their natural bent—and they speak with authority.

Groundswellmn-09052013_edited-1Our businesses are typically more transactional affairs. Employees are hired with a set of expectations (whether narrow or wide) and expected to go about their business. Our best work situations are those that move beyond merely transactional and begin to see the various bits of giftedness each employee brings—and then honors that voice. Most of us who have worked in organizations and companies where we remained unheard—and those work situations number among our least favorite. And those best work situations were where we were identified as the person in the know on some particular aspect of the shared vision.

Business can learn from church by recognizing the gifts, abilities and particular bent of employees and hearing the authority that employee speaks from. No matter what position the employee has, there is some authority/expertise/giftedness they bring.

We owe it to each other to move beyond transactional to relational.

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  1. […] this space between work, craft and carrying out community described yesterday, Seth McCoy talked about a leadership style that didn’t set the founding leader as the […]

  2. […] Relational trumps transactional […]


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