Are you adapting to the uniqueness of your leaders?

by | Sep 26, 2017 | Leaders

Pastors who struggle with their teams often state with pride that they treat all of their leaders the same. From my perspective, that’s a recipe for disaster. Effective leaders recognize that there is no single “best” style of leadership and that their leadership style needs to be tailored to the person, place, and personality of their setting.

Do you adapt your leadership style based on the maturity level (a combination of competence, confidence, and commitment) of the individuals or groups you are leading? Do you find ways to develop the competence, confidence, and commitment of their people so they’re self-motivated rather than dependent on others for direction and guidance?

Listed below are three sets of questions I ask myself when equipping, encouraging, and empowering leaders:

I ask questions about the 4Cs.

  1. Clarity. Has this person been properly oriented so that he or she knows the purpose and priorities of the church, their individual roles and responsibilities, and what the critical success factors are for the role they play?
  2. Commitment. On a scale of 1-10 (10=very), how passionate or energized is this person about the role they play and the project they’re connected with? Are they able to consistently maintain a high level of commitment?
  3. Character. Is this person a team player? What impact does he or she have on others? Does this person celebrate other people’s contributions? Does this person build up the body of Christ? Is this person a self-starter and do they take personal responsibility for their words and actions? Are they willing to speak their truth?
  4. Competence. What skills does this person possess that will enable her to be successful? What skills are lacking, and will hold this person back? Does this person have the capacity to develop these essential skills?

I ask questions about the SUPPORT they need right now.

  1. Definition and direction. These leaders need to know the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW of their position before they can serve effectively in their role.
  2. Skill building. These leaders need to develop certain skills before they can do their best work. This may involve teaching people how to manage projects, be a spiritual leader, lead meetings, or communicate effectively.
  3. Inspiration. These leaders have been oriented and have the basic skills needed but often lack the confidence to lead effectively and with authority.
  4. Advocacy. These leaders need to know that I will follow their lead, serve as a partner in ministry, and that I have their back if they encounter resistance from others.
  5. Dialogue. These leaders are like race horses that are highly capable and committed. They need little direction but typically appreciate someone who will serve as a dialogue partner who will help them discern, dream, delegate, and design new ministry initiatives.

I ask questions about the type of ENCOURAGEMENT each leader most appreciates.
I’m a fan of the 5 Love Languages and often incorporate the languages into ways I support leaders.

  1. Words of affirmation (sending notes, cards, emails, text messages, and verbal affirmations).
  2. Acts of service (helping a leader on a project; asking “How can I best support your efforts?”).
  3. Receiving gifts (gift cards, pictures, and token gifts that serve as metaphors for the gifts they bring to ministry).
  4. Quality time (1-on-1 time -meals, car time, dialogue about projects, professional development, etc.).
  5. Physical touch (only if and when appropriate to the setting).

Adaptive leaders are keenly aware of what their leaders need and how to bring out God’s best in them. They recognize people’s different skill sets, gifts, passions, and perspectives. They create dialogue and development plans that reflect the uniqueness of each person.

Do you keep notes on the leaders you support? Do you sow seeds of possibility based on their uniqueness? Do you help them develop leadership formation plans that foster personal, professional, and spiritual growth? The “one size fits all” mindset doesn’t work when helping people grow in faith nor does it work well for forming leaders.

What are some ways you can be more attentive to the uniqueness of your ministry leaders?

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