5 Leadership Pipeline Mistakes I Hope You’re Not Making

5 Leadership Pipeline Mistakes I Hope You’re Not Making

Creating, building and filling a Leadership Pipeline has taken almost 6 years (Learn how to build your own HERE) and through the years we learned a few things the hard way.


I want to share with you our biggest mistakes and the lessons we learned.

Mistake #1 Not Building From The Bottom Up

When we built our pipeline we had the spots labeled and though through but when we started filling out the pipeline  we put people in place too fast.

We knew we needed more leaders but we promoted people too fast.

Lesson Learned – We needed to build your pipeline on paper first and fill it from the bottom up, placing our own names in all the levels until we properly trained our replacements.

Mistake #2 Too Many Skills & Expectations

I’ve had the privilege help several other churches build their pipeline and most started to make this mistake too. When we first started listing the different skills and expectations needed to be successful at each level we made the mistake of having too many, way too many!

Lesson Learned –  At level one there should be almost no skills and maybe just one expectation, two at most. When someone would opt-in to serve, it took about 3 weeks to get them plugged in. Now it takes us 2 days!

Mistake #3 Not Resourcing Coaches Enough

The 2nd leadership transition in the pipeline is the most difficult. In this transition a leader goes from leading others to leading leaders. There is a shift in values, from doing ministry to getting ministry done through others. The leader also has to shift where they see their greatest impact in the ministry. Before their impact was found in their individual task but now their greatest impact is found in the relationships of those they lead.

Lesson Learned –  Just within the last year we’ve really started to value and resource our coaches better to help them work through this transition. We spent several months with our coaches working through Leadership Workshops focusing on delegation, time management, mentoring and communication.

Mistake #4 Ignoring On-Going Training

Learning our lesson from #3 we realized that we built the pipeline with an unintentional focus on training new leaders (On-Boarding) but we did almost no training once they were on the team (On-Going).

Lesson Learned –  Now we have a system of monthly on-going trainings to help development our members, leaders and coaches.

*PRO-TIP – Effective Training needs these 4 elements.

  • Teaching – Content that is focused on ONE skill or idea.
  • Talking – Learning happens best in the context of a group discussion.
  • Trying – Go and apply the new skill or idea.
  • Telling – come back together and tell the group how it went.



Mistake #5 Not Building Future Development Into The Pipeline

At first we were focused on quality control, building in ways to ensure that each ministry would be run well in our absence. After a few years we had built a system that had a high bar of execution but we weren’t reproducing leaders. We were doing things well but our leaders were burning out! So we had to tweak our pipeline.

Lesson Learned –  We found that if we focused on growing more leaders than high quality, execution and more importantly ownership of that ministry was a by-product.


Want to learn How To Build A Healthy Leadership Pipeline For Your Church?

Check out “The Leadership Pipeline Workshop” and learn from Carey Nieuwhof, Clay Scroggins, Shawn Lovejoy, Brandon Cox, Jenni Catron and more!

The Leadership Pipeline Workshop