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Leadership Development Contract Part 1
In this session we’re going to be taking a look at Leadership Development Contracts.
So far we’ve taken a look at the Leadership Profile that contains the common leadership marks or competencies normally shared by spiritually mature, effective church leaders.
We’ve also learned about the Leader Assessment component in the Leadership Development Model. Here we learned how not only to do a self-assessment, based on the competencies in the Leader Profile, but also gather the assessments of others so that we can have a more objective and realistic understanding of very specific ways we can develop as a church leader. We referred to this as the 360 Assessment.
Now we come to the third component in the Leadership Development Model called Learning Methods.
Here we are confronted with a very common and very serious problem.
Once a leader understands all the basic Leadership Profile competencies that are needed to be a spiritually mature, effective church leader–and the leader has been effectively assessed in light of that model showing specific competencies that need to be developed, the question then arises:
“How do leaders then go from where they are to where they need to be regarding character, ministry, and knowledge competencies?”
One of the most effective, proven ways to help leaders develop the competencies they most need to develop is through what is called a “Personal Learning Contract.”
What is a Personal Learning Contract?
A personal learning contract is a self-designed plan to help a leader develop competencies necessary to be a mature, effective leader.
It’s been called a self-designed vehicle to move you from where you are now to where you want to be. It’s a guide to help you monitor and direct your learning.
A personal learning contract identifies the answers to Five Key Questions:
1. WHO you are going to learn with and be accountable to? (Mentor/Coach)
2. WHAT competencies are you going to develop? (Character, Ministry, Knowledge Goals) 3. HOW you are going to learn it? (Resources and Adult Learning Method Objectives)
4. WHEN you are going to learn it? (Clearly Defined Timeline with Deadline)
5. HOW you will know that you learned it? (Collected Credible Evaluated Evidence)
And a final question, WHAT will you focus on next? (Evaluation and Lifelong Learning)
There are three primary benefits to using personal learning contracts. The first one is:
1. Leaders Learn
When leaders use learning contracts they learn material more deeply and permanently. One reason why is because they learn it through resources and methods of their own choosing – instead of merely listening to it being taught in a classroom.
As you’ve heard me say in this course before, “The purpose of teaching is to make learning possible.” It is a false premise to believe that if teaching is taking place then learning must be taking place. Educational studies have shown that the tradition lecture model, where students are primarily passive scribes taking notes, is just not an effective way to learn.
But when the same criteria in educational studies is applied to students using personal learning contracts, the findings are normally significantly different. Students normally learn. Why? Because proven Adult Learning Principles and Methods are required in learning contracts.
And one of the primary reasons they truly learn is because they are developing in a specific area where they are aware they need to be developed and they are motivated to be developed in that area.
You’ve also heard me say several times in education, “One size does not fit all.” By this I mean that standardized class curriculum is usually just not very effective because all learners are not starting at the same place.
Every learner has unique strengths and weaknesses. And one of the foundational leadership development principles we saw earlier in this course described the need for the leader to supplement standardized formal instruction with more individualized non-formal instruction.
The use of personal learning contracts, more so than any other type of instructional method, create the conditions for individualized learning.
A second benefit to using personal learning contracts is that…
2. Leaders Learn How to Learn
This way of learning shifts the primary responsibility for learning from the teacher to the student. Learning contracts lead students to become more self-directing and more responsible for their own learning.
And in doing this it’s often like a conversion experience. Students stop being passive and always complaining about their lack of development as leaders, blame shifting. They begin to take personal responsibility for their own development as a leader in a renewed way. It’s like an awakening.
Church leaders often need to have this kind of conversion experience when they stop blaming their school or church or ministry organization for their lack of development as a leader. And they start recognizing that the only reason they’re not truly learning is because they are failing to lead themselves well.
A third benefit to using personal learning contracts is that…
3. Leaders Learn How to Learn for the Rest of Their Lives
As time passes, the unique educational needs of pastors and churches change inevitably.
But many church leaders, especially in the developing world, have no access to education today. And the church leaders who do have access and who can afford education, can usually only afford a brief time of education during the beginning of their ministries.
There is no other vocation or profession, except for pastoral ministry, has such an unparalleled lack of quality control and lifelong, continuing education for its practitioners.
This is why one of the most important things a church leader can learn is how to become a lifelong learner.