263. Leading With Control Or Context

263. Leading With Control Or Context

I recently finished reading a book called “Netflix: No rules rule.” It talks about how the company Netflix runs and its culture. Netflix made headlines by having policies that sound shocking at first, such as “no vacation policy” (not “no vacation” policy) or “no approval required policy.” It means that Netflix employees can take as many vacations as possible, and they can approve millions of dollars for the project they lead without getting their boss’s approval. CEO explains that too many policies restrict talented people’s creativity and eventually drive them away. Of course, many people worried about people abusing the system. But the CEO explains the main principles that made this possible, and one of them is leading with “context”, as opposed to “control.”

Leading with control tells people what to do and what not to do in clear terms. For industries that require precision or safety is a big issue, leading with control might be better. Also, if the employees are not very creative or not very self-motivated, leading with control might be more suitable.

But for an innovative company like Netflix, where they have hired highly-talented people, they give one main context: “Do what is best of Netflix’s interest.” For example, taking a business class flight when an employee has to meet the client right after a long flight is best of Netflix’s interest because he will be less jet-lagged. But doing so for a flight that is only a few hours-long trips and the meeting is next day is not.

As I finished reading, I thought about our shepherds. House church ministry can be risky because pastors delegate a lot of autonomy and authority to the respective shepherds for their house church. Besides providing a meeting guide and general direction, pastors allow shepherds to make decisions specific to their house churches. We believe in raising a lay-pastor, not a small group leader. To do that, you need to give them “pastoral” authority and autonomy over their ministry. But I feel at peace not because I believe they will never make mistakes but because I trust that everyone wants to “do what is best of church’s interest,” not just their house church. This trust comes from knowing that every shepherd loves Christ and his body.

In the area that involves finance which is a sensitive matter, control is necessary. But I think it is so much better to lead with context if you have aligned people serving in ministry.