Published: 1 year ago

Multi-Site: How Do You Lead?

I’ve mentioned before that there are as many multi-site models as there are multi-site churches. But today’s question centers around one of leadership:

How do you lead campuses from a central role?

Here’s how the structure works in our model: my “direct reports” are the two people on my central team. My guest services counterparts at our campuses do not report to me. While I speak into their hiring, I don’t ultimately hire them. While I speak into their performance, I ultimately don’t yell at ’em to clean out their desks.

(Let’s keep this between us. I think the new ones are still scared of me and I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible, at least until they find out I’m basically a Queen Elizabeth-styled figurehead.)

So to twist Clay Scroggins words in a way that he didn’t necessarily mean ’em, how do we lead people we’re not in charge of? How do we maintain DNA and standards from one campus to another?


The not-so-great way to lead: control

I’ve discovered that I can get a few things accomplished through the tried-and-true iron fist method: create massive policies and corresponding punishments if those policies aren’t followed. Micromanage like crazy. Check up on every little thing that a campus counterpart is doing. Foam at the mouth when they don’t measure up.

Don’t get me wrong: control is an easy way to get what you want. You yell enough, and eventually people will do your bidding just so you’ll stop the yelling. But their heart won’t be in it. Their soul will shrivel up. And any respect they ever had for you will fly out the window.


The better way to lead: influence

Did I mention that my campus counterparts don’t necessarily have to do what I tell ’em? (Again, I don’t think they know that. Let’s keep it between us.) Once I hit that realization a few years ago, I knew that I had to rely on something besides the iron fist method. My goal is to provide great resources, decent ideas, lots of encouragement and coaching, and open forums where we can talk through things before, during, and after the implementation process.

Do I always get that right? Nah. They’ll be the first to tell you that I’m still a recovering micro-managing control freak. I recognize that I still tend to focus on what can be better vs. what already is going great. But I’d rather continue to limp towards influence rather than hold illusions of control.


By the way, this isn’t just a model to follow in multi-site. Any leader, any stripe, any organization could stand to exert a little more influence, a little less control.

So what are you influencing today?


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