Transparent Leadership: An interview with Catalyst’s Brad Lomenick

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Brad Lomenick leads one of the nation's largest networks of Christian leaders.

Brad Lomenick leads one of the nation's largest networks of Christian leaders.

Brad Lomenick leads one of the nation's largest networks of Christian leaders.

Brad Lomenick leads one of the nation’s largest networks of Christian leaders.

Over the last 15 years, Brad Lomenick has built one of the largest networks of Christians in America as the Executive Director and Key Visionary of Catalyst. His conferences attract more than 25,000 leaders annually. Lomenick’s new book, The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker, shares what he’s learned from his experiences working with influencers and what the future of religious leadership looks like.

JM: What are some positive trends you’re seeing in the Church and ministry environments?

BL: Collaboration, idea sharing, unity, excellence and authenticity. I think we are at an unprecedented time in history where churches are partnering and willing to work together more than ever before. A focus on neighborhoods and the local community is also a major positive trend happening in the church right now. Known as being missional, it’s the idea that the church is invested in not just bringing people into the church, but actually sending people out into the communities to be salt and light.

JM: Can you give us a brief overview one of the essentials you prescribe in the book?

BL: Over the years, I’ve realized a great lesson about leadership: I’m at my best when I’m simply being me. It’s taken some time to figure that one out. Every leader I know faces the temptation to project a persona other than their true selves. They think that in order to maintain the confidence of their team or followers, they must appear faultless, flawless and ever wise. Yet I believe that what everyone around you wants is an authentic leader, not a perfect one. A leader who is willing to admit their mistakes. A leader that a team can trust and follow. The real you. That can only happen if I embrace who I truly am rather than trying to be someone else.

JM: How do you stay hopeful when life sucks, business is crumbling, church or ministry is not growing, when everything seems to be going wrong?

BL: Well, that’s a tough one. I believe your spiritual foundation and staying passionate for God is essential. And the understanding that tomorrow will be better than today, an underlying sense of staying hopeful. Eternal perspective is crucial, realizing that we are part of a story that is eternal and way bigger than any of us individually.

JM: How do you become collaborative without becoming competitive?

BL: Collaboration has to flow from a place of generosity, truly believing that a higher tide lifts all boats. Be more concerned with others. Listen instead of talk. Be interested over interesting. To be collaborative we must understand that it’s not about me. It’s not about your organization, your nonprofit, or your project. It’s about connecting people, not competing. Collaborators are okay sharing their wisdom, their knowledge, their connections and their networks, because collaboration means working together alongside others. Co-laboring. Building bridges instead of constructing walls. We at Catalyst have partnered with those who might be seen as competitors, because we believe in an abundance mentality. When you have an abundance mindset you are more likely to collaborate instead of compete. Avoid the scarcity mentality – the idea that there is only so much to go around. Think of churches in the same city – if you believe we’re all on the same team it’s much easier to collaborate instead of compete.

JM: You say you want to empower influencers to “Not only lead now, but lead well.” What does that look like?

BL: I’ve dialogued with young leaders over the last several years, the common characteristic I’m finding is the desire to lead NOW. They’re embarking on creative projects, starting new organizations, writing books, excelling in large corporations and creating causes that are solving some of the world’s leading problems. They aren’t willing to climb the ladder, or wait their turn. They want to catapult immediately into positions of influence. Energetic and passionate, these young next generation leaders want to jump in and make a difference now. They are not willing to wait. These issues aren’t new. They’ve been around forever for anyone in leadership. But, we have some realities converging: Generation leading early, and a generation not ready to lead.

We have a new generation of leaders emerging in our country – a called but not equipped generation. Never before have so many been required to step into positions of leadership. They’re passionate and ready to change the world, but need a practical guide on what it looks like to lead well now. The “aren’t-ready” generation of leaders are in the seats of influence and need tools to help them. I have countless friends who are hungry to change the world, but if they’re not careful, they’ll end up in the ditch along with their entire team. Reality is, they are already leading now.