What I learnt from the Yellow Wiggle

The original handover from Greg to Sam

Recently the children’s entertainment group know as the Wiggles, decided to bring back Greg as the Yellow Wiggle.  Whilst many parents were upset because they liked Sam as the Yellow Wiggle, in this blog post we will look at what this teaches us as leaders in our situation.

Background about the Wiggles

  1. If you don’t know who the Wiggles are then you must not have kids.  They are a children’s entertainment group from Australia that have entertained millions of children.  The Wiggles have won every award possible in their category and are in the Music Hall of Fame.
  2. A few years ago Greg, one of the four original members was replaced by Sam because Greg was unwell.  Sam was much younger and connected well with the kids.
  3. Most of the four original Wiggles would now be their 50’s.  The original four will not last forever so what is their exit strategy?

What can we learn from the replacement of the Yellow Wiggle?

  1. Look to replace yourself – Whilst it was sad to see Greg leave, bringing in Sam was a chance to replace the original line up one person at a time.  When you replace yourself in an up front roll, you train up more people who can do your job if needed.  Bringing in Sam was the perfect way to get the audience used to seeing a new Wiggle. Every few years the Wiggles could be replace another member so that the fans always knew at least one Wiggle.  Going back to an original member was a backward step to replacing yourself.  In your role as a leader are you training up others to replace you or do you hog center stage?
  2. It is not about you – By replacing Greg and bringing in Sam it helps the audience connect with the brand of the Wiggles rather than the individuals.  The Wiggles had the opportunity to build a fan base rather than boosting the self-confidence of an individual.  Bringing back Greg give the impression that the true Wiggles are the original four members.  In your leadership role is it about building your ministry or boosting your ego?
  3. Don’t just hire your friends – in terms of the Wiggles reaching their audience, Sam was the better choice amongst this generation of fans.  By going back to an old friend the Wiggles lost a lot in the public relations department.  It told the fans that it was about what the original members wanted rather than what the fans wanted.  In your leadership role do people have to be friends with you to get ahead or can the best people rise up?

Application to a ministry setting

We all know a “Yellow Wiggle” situation where one leader has been replaced by a new leader.  Perhaps you know situation where that went well or perhaps you know situations where it didn’t work so well.  In a previous post I wrote about how this can be done well  (see Building a Legacy for more).  We know that in a Youth Ministry situation leaders move every 2-3 years and each leader has their own style.  In a local church, the senior minister moves every 5-10 years and a new senior minister can bring a 180 degree shift.  So as a leader at any level remember these three things:

  1. Look to replace yourself before it gets too late and you decide to leave.
  2. It is not about you it is about the people
  3. Don’t just recruit from your friendship circle; build up the people who will best minister to those in your ministry.

If you ever forget these three things then just think about a man jumping around a stage in a Yellow Skivvy.

Please leave a comment, especially if you had any thoughts on the replacement of Sam as the Yellow Wiggle.

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Building a legacy – be the first in a long line

How do you want to be remembered?

Recently I finished up in a ministry position where I had served in for about six years.  Since leaving the position I wondered how I will be remembering.  Will I be quickly forgotten?  Will people miss me?  Then it struck me that my biggest fear was that people would say “it hasn’t been as good since you left.”  Whilst sometime that feels nice, the reality is that I hope that ministry will continue to grow stronger into the future.

It seems that when someone is leaving a position is a bit late to start building a legacy.  If someone wants to leave a good legacy then they have to start thinking about it when they are in the position.  How do you want to be remembered when you leave your current ministry position?  Perhaps finishing 2011 and moving into a new year is a chance to refocus on the type of legacy you are building.  Here are a few suggestions for building a good legacy for when you are ready to leave:

  1. You don’t want to be forgotten – whilst it is important to be humble and replace yourself well, people who make an impact in a ministry are never forgotten.  If your time as ministry coordinator is quickly forgotten then you were not making the impact that you should.
  2. You don’t want to leave a void – it is important that you have some role in succession planning for your departure.  It is important that the work that you began continues after you leave.  Perhaps the ministry may not replace you, but if there are leaders to step and lead after you leave then you have built a legacy well.
  3. You don’t want to handicap future growth – after you leave, the ministry should be allowed to grow where it needs to.  Some leaders like to put in structures that predict the future grow, rail road it where they think it should go, but all it does is restrict growth.  As a leader you want to empower future leaders to change or cut programs and events that you may have started to fit the needs of the future community.
  4. You do want to leave your corporate knowledge – you have an obligation as ministry coordinator to leave any work that you have done within the ministry.  Unless you had it written into your contract you must leave a copy of all work produced whilst working for the ministry.  Usually a ministry will allow you to take a copy with you, but don’t walk out of the office with all copies of the files, both hard copy and on computer.
  5. You do want to build flexibility – as a ministry leader you appreciate the freedom to adapt the ministry to the current circumstances.  When you leave respect the future ministry leaders by allowing them to create new visions, programs and events.
  6. You do want to build a dynasty – do you want to be remembered as the last good ministry coordinator or the first in a long line of great ministry coordinators?  You want to build something that will get bigger and better after you leave not smaller,  you don’t want the community wishing that you would come back to save them.  Be the first in a long line of great ministry coordinators not the last.

Now have I done all of these?  No.  In the various ministry positions that I have held both voluntary and paid I have learnt the hard way all of these points.  But as a ministry leader my biggest fear is that ministry will collapse after I leave.  The best bit of advice I ever heard was “a great ministry leader is always doing themselves out of job”.  As ministry leaders lets build great dynasties not ministries that collapse after we leave.

Check out a practical example of Building a Legacy in my post about how the Wiggles replaced Greg with Sam, then brought back Greg to replace Sam in What I learnt from the Yellow Wiggle

Please leave a comment to pass on your advice about building a legacy.