That should never, ever threaten a leader—it’s what you long for! What you’re hoping to drive is the non-manipulative process of corporate vision ownership…
A passionate dream that drives the organization and is owned by everyone.
When people buy into a mission, their sense of responsibility is exponentially amped. But that movement to ownership often follows a typical “adoption” process. Understanding that process is crucial; it means that you have to be aware of the influencers and early adopters that are in your circles.
In his influential book Diffusion of Innovations, author, sociologist, and professor Everett Rogers pioneered the study of how new technologies and ideas are absorbed by the masses…and graphed out the Early Adoption Lifecycle. Rogers popularized the term early adopters to describe the people who take some risk in being the “guinea pigs” for what innovators create and publish. Early adopters are critical for any society or culture to evolve and progress from status quo contexts, particularly since they tend to be influencers, thought-leaders, or trendsetters who through word-of-mouth may make or break an innovation.
Identifying and recruiting early adopters is a vital skill for leaders to learn.
It can be done in conjunction with testing a vision’s credibility. I’m not sure we’re all as spiritually sharp as we’d like to be, and so testing out the veracity of a vision while identifying thought-leaders is not always a common practice for leaders.
In testing out a dream or mission or initiative, begin talking about it with several different types of people and leaders. If their eyes brighten and they started talking about it in genuinely interested tones, then you’re on to something! It’s been my best test for a vision’s validity and identifying a potential early adopter.
If you have a big dream or vision that requires serious financing, it’s vitally important to meet with as many potential early adopters as possible.
During one of our capital campaigns for a big dream we felt God had given us, our leadership team had many “fireside chats” in our home with people in the church who had already been regular givers and investors in the mission.
And obviously, identifying and inspiring early adopters isn’t just about capital campaigns; these are influencers of ideas and initiatives, people who have the ability to lead the largest segment on Roger’s bell curve.
Dave Workman | ELEMENTAL CHURCHES
Excerpted from “Elemental Leaders: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs…and Every Church Must Have.”