A RADICAL overhaul of the Church of England's leadership is
A key report, still unpublished, sets out a programme of "talent
management" in the Church. The report has been signed off by the
two Archbishops, and a £2-million budget has been allocated. It was
discussed by all the bishops in September, and the House of Bishops
on Monday. A spokesman said on Wednesday that the Bishops "welcomed
the implementation plan prepared in the light of those discussions.
Details will be published next month."
The Church Times has seen the report, Talent
Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for
Bishops and Deans: A new approach, prepared by a steering
group chaired by Prebendary the Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the
former HSBC chairman. It speaks of a "culture change for the
leadership of the Church", and outlines a two-stage process.
In stage one, which is in the process of being implemented, all
diocesan bishops and deans are expected to attend a residential
modular development programme run by a secular university or
business school. The modules are entitled: "Building healthy
organisations", "Leading growth", and "Reinventing the
In between modules, the bishops and deans will be expected to
review their actions within the framework of theological reflection
and prayer, which includes a spiritual retreat. The programme is to
The more radical move comes at stage two. The Green report
proposes that training for senior leadership in the Church -
bishops and deans, but also archdeacons, incumbents of large
churches, and heads of mission societies - takes place before
For this to happen, a "talent pool" of up to 150 "high-potential
individuals" will be identified and enrolled in an intensive
training course, lasting up to five years, by which time they can
be expected to have obtained senior appointment. The pool will be
overseen by the Development and Appointments Group (DAG), and
managed by an enlarged staff under Caroline Boddington, the
Archbishops' Secretary for Appointments, based at the Wash House in
the grounds of Lambeth Palace.
After two years of intensive, modular training, talent-pool
members will be invited to join their bishop's senior staff team to
learn how to run a diocese. During that time, they will also be
expected to undertake projects "with relevance for the National
Church", and be available for secondment.
Individuals will be rated "early promise", "exceptional
potential", or "ready now". The names of those deemed ready will be
proposed to committees appointing the next generation of bishops
Those who have been in the pool will form an "alumni network",
tracked continually by the "talent database" and available for
mentoring and coaching future leaders. Anyone failing to fulfil his
or her potential will be asked to leave.
The Green report identifies three key elements of church
- contributing to the Common Good, in essence involvement in
local and national politics;
- reshaping ministry, i.e. developing the gifts of lay and
- leading the Church for growth, implementing best practice for
spiritual and numerical growth.
The report is virtually silent about the shortcomings of the
present system of preferment in the C of E. Its stated intention,
though, is to see leaders emerge from "a wider variety of
backgrounds and range of skills than is currently predicted".
And it speaks of the urgency of the task: "So often in the face
of real opportunity, many organisations, including the Church, do
too little too late. We 'get there late,' as it were. Our
commitment is to 'get there early,' while there is still time for
imaginative response, agility, and a range of possibilities."
Lord Green's steering group expects there to be some resistance
among existing bishops and deans, particularly over the need to
find time in 2015-16 diaries that are already full. It says that
support for the programme from the Archbishops is vital.
It also acknowledges the problem of language. "Currently,
corporate labels such as 'talent management', 'leadership
development programme', 'talent pool' and 'alumni network' have
been used. These should perhaps be replaced by terms meaningful to
The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy,
is critical of the theological basis behind the programme. Writing
in today's Church Times, he says that the Green report
"has no point of origination in theological or spiritual wisdom.
Instead, on offer is a dish of basic contemporary approaches to
executive management, with a little theological garnish."
The plan is to publish the report in January, before the General
Synod's February meeting. Similar review groups are looking at a
simplification of the Church's structures and the allocation of
resources.Comment, page 14
Question of the week: Do you approve of the plan to create a
talent pool of people to be trained for high
Members of the review group:
Prebendary the Lord Green, Chair
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church
The Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely
David Jennings, Senior Strategy
The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of
John Spence, Archbishops' Council
The Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth
The Rt Revd Timothy Thornton, Bishop of
Caroline Boddington, Archbishops'
Secretary for Appointments
Brad Cook, Appointments and
Christopher McLaverty, Consultant
Karen West, Archbishops' Adviser
on Bishops' Ministry
What the report says
THE Green report recommends "a new and dynamic curriculum to
support the leadership development needs of current bishops and
deans". The report also recommends radical change in the way
"exceptional individuals are identified and developed for future
strategic leadership roles in the Church".
The intention, it says, "is to develop clergy of exceptional
leadership potential to make a significant impact in every area of
the Church's endeavour, and to be more open to the emergence of
leaders from a wider variety of backgrounds and range of skills
than is currently predictable. The Church must be more intentional
about drawing in those with high potential who do not appear to
'fit in'." It identifies women and people from Black, Asian, and
minority-ethnic communities as under-represented in senior church
It hopes to encourage "joy and resilience" in current and future
leaders, people with a "realistic confidence in their ability to
manage well, to handle complexity, and to nurture the maturity of
the organisation. . . We intend to form clergy who integrate and
demonstrate strategic and spiritual gifts."
"There is emerging an opportunity for senior leaders in the
Church to be innovative and to initiate new forms of social and
political capital. This will involve being daring enough to open
conversations which politicians fear to start on their own."
Leadership development for bishops and deans
THE new programme will be capable of delivering "sustainable
organisational change", and will include 360-degree feedback,
action-learning sets, and modules on building a healthy
organisation and leading the team, equipping the Church for growth,
and reshaping ministry. The target is for 36 diocesan bishops to
complete the modular programme in 2015-2016.
"The business school provider will also run a Mini-MBA programme
targeted primarily at deans. We will aim for 60 individuals to
complete this programme in 2015-2016."
There will also be a new programme on Contributing to the Common
Good (including digital-communications skills training and a deeper
insight into cultural change). The target is for 54 individuals
(bishops or deans) to complete this programme in 2015-2016.
"There is a key role for both Archbishops in the programme. All
leadership development interventions need the most senior leaders
to set the correct 'tone from the top'. . . Archbishops need to
signal to the Church and to individuals invited to participate that
attendance is a vital priority and that space must be created in
the diary to enable this."
"The programme should not be run primarily by internal trainers
or theological colleges. The evaluation found that these providers
failed to provide sufficient challenge for a senior Church
Module One: building healthy organisations
Participants will be invited to assess the effect-
iveness of the teams they currently lead. There will be training
in change management and the challenges facing the Church, as well
as refresher courses in legal and safeguarding issues.
Module Two: leading growth
Participants will be invited to review their diocese's plans,
and taught to devise one where none exists. There will be a field
trip to a growing part of the Church.
Module Three: re-inventing the ministry
Participants will be invited to review their diocese's
current ministerial development review process. Training will be
given in identifying and nurturing talented individuals.
In addition, there will be two residential courses: a mini-MBA
targeted at deans and focusing on financial management and how to
run a heritage site; and a programme on the Common Good, looking at
social change and modern communications skills.
"THE key issues for identifying leaders of the future will be
around transformation impact, radical and imaginative message, and
a clear potential to make an impact in different contexts and
across the wider agenda."
Key criteria for joining the talent pool:
early evidence of the leadership characteristics required for
senior clergy (building healthy organisations, leading for growth,
contributing to the common good, reshaping ministry).
acknowledged as the strongest performer in their peer group,
recognised for their outstanding credibility, authenticity and
displays conviction, commitment and tenacity in their vocational
journey and openness to whatever God may have in store for the
demonstrates potential for growth (thinking beyond boundaries,
curiosity and eagerness to learn, social understanding and empathy,
emotional stability and maturity).
e.g. "a priest where personal charisma dominates rather than
living out the gospel message, boundary-stretching to an extent
that a community is left stressed and floundering, theological
interpretation/exploration and little action, over attuned to
empathy and a failure to confront issues, unable to work
collaboratively"; too little support in the home parish so that the
individual is too busy to learn; family issues that inhibit
commitment to the intensive development programme.
"Individuals will be required to hit an 'absolute' standard
(very high objective standard which means the talent pool will
always be small, up to a maximum membership of 150) rather than a
'relative' standard (assuming that everyone's got talent, creating
a misleadingly large talent pool)."
Membership of the talent pool will be for five years on average.
It is expect that about 30 individuals a year will "deploy their
talent-pool experience to a wide variety of senior leadership
roles. The quality of leadership across the Church should increase
rapidly as a result."
Each individual will have a tailored development programme,
including mentoring and work experience. After two years involving
residential modules, action learning sets, and theological
reflection, he or she will be expected to join the bishop's senior
staff team in order to gain first-hand experience of strategic
"If there is decline in measurable performance or potential, an
individual will be asked to leave."
Once appointed to a post or deemed "ready now" for an episcopal
post, members of the pool will join the alumni network, supported
and supportive of new talent.
Nominations to the talent pool will come from bishops. These
will be monitored by the Development and Appointments Group (DAG)
to ensure consistency between dioceses, which will filter out
nominations "where the documentation provided does not demonstrate
sustained evidence of exceptional potential". It will also
challenge the bishops if the pool does not representatives of
different genders, ethnic backgrounds, or church traditions.
Nominees will attend a day-long assessment exercise in front of
a panel. Those rejected for the pool will be given feedback by
their diocesan bishop.
"Vacancies for deans, archdeacons and other senior appointments
will continue to be advertised. The expectation is that many of
these vacancies will also be filled by alumni of the talent pool.
However, the recruitment process will be open to all relevant
applicants. It will always be possible to apply for and obtain
senior positions without being a member of the talent pool."