What Kind of Leader Are You?
David Posthuma @ Aug 12, 2008 07:47 AM
NOTE: Portions of this article were published in the July/August edition of REV! Magazine and in David's new book, Made for a Mission.
An Introduction to Six Major Styles of Influence...
At the 2007 Catalyst leadership convention, Andy Stanley passionately proclaimed: “Leadership is always ‘follow me,’ it is never ‘follow we!’”
The context of Andy’s statement was his rejection of leadership by committee. I agree with Andy that committee-based leadership is not a healthy leadership paradigm. Yet, “follow-me”, when applied inappropriately, can also be detrimental to the health and vitality of a ministry organization. God designed numerous styles of leadership influence. Each style is good, created by God, and intended by God to be used for Kingdom purposes. However, when we fail to recognize or appreciate our personal leadership style, only surround ourselves with people who possess similar leadership styles to our own, or impose our leadership style upon those who serve under us, devastating consequences can result.
What is Mission Myopia?
It may surprise you to learn that even though the Bible is abundantly clear about the many parts of Christ’s body, when it comes to building ministry teams, many Christians and Christian leaders somehow forget that God created human diversity. It should be self-evident that not every Christ follower will look, sound, nor act like every other Christ follower. However, leaders often suffer from what I call “mission myopia.” The Oxford American Dictionary defines myopia as: “1) nearsightedness; 2) lack of imagination or intellectual insight.” Mission myopia exists whenever we consolidate around ourselves people who possess a similar ministry temperament to ourselves, or impose our ministry temperament...and its way of perceiving and serving...upon those closest to us.
The problem of mission myopia was illustrated quite profoundly to me some time ago when I received a phone call from a pastor asking if I would be willing to meet with him. As we sat and talked, he began to unload his frustration with his church board. He felt his church board was lacking in integrity, failing to fulfill the ministry obligations to which they had agreed, and that he may now have to remove most of the board members. Over my years of pastoral ministry and consulting with ministry leaders, I had come across some difficult and even unhealthy church boards; however, the prospect of removing an entire board seemed quite extreme. As I asked him more about his situation, it became clear that this pastor had led his church leadership team through a strategic planning process that advocated and blessed only one ministry style…the pastor’s…as the required methodology for each one of his board members. In theory, the board members had agreed that the method outlined by their pastor was very important for their church. But in practice, it soon became clear that most of the board members were incapable of sustained personal ministry using the pastor’s methodology.
I asked this pastor to describe specific personality attributes regarding each board member. As he did so, it became very clear to me that this well-meaning pastor was violating God’s ordained mission for each one of his board members. This ministry board consisted of individuals who were strong visionary leaders and project administrators. They were task-oriented and systems-oriented people. In contrast, the pastor’s personal style was “relational,” focusing on one-to-one or small group interpersonal ministry. This pastor did not mean to sin against his board, but in fact, by trying to treat each board member as an “eye”...to see and do things his way...he was violating each board member's divinely inspired ministry temperament. I tried to help this pastor realize that his ministry goals could be more effectively accomplished if he were to mobilize his board according to each person's unique personality. I encouraged him to ask his board for forgiveness and to repent of his judgmental attitude toward them. This was a crisis of the pastor's own making...he had forgotten to honor each part of Christ's ministry body. He was suffering from mission myopia.
The graphic below portrays a continuum of leadership styles, ranging from highly task-driven entrepreneurial leaders on the left, to highly relational and task-avoidant leaders on the right. This broad continuum is divided into six basic “styles” of leadership influence, which are grouped into three general categories: Builders, Managers, and Nurturers.
The Builder category consists of Pioneers and Strategic Planners.
Pioneers are designed by God to develop new ministry programming, systems, and churches. They are strong dynamic leaders who value risk-taking for the Kingdom of God. They are typically strong personalities who thrive on vision…the bigger the vision the better. They are highly mission-driven. Pioneers make excellent church planters and new program developers. They think organizationally and systemically. As long as Pioneers are allowed to “build”, they can remain motivated. However, when a project or ministry becomes established and requires managerial and pastoral care duties, the Pioneer will likely become frustrated and discouraged. The Apostle Paul was a classic Pioneer. His goal was never to build upon another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20).
Strategic Planners are designed by God to be the “architect” for new ministry development, and established ministry refinement. They are designers of systems and are highly task-oriented. They are the most “prophetic” of leadership types, in that they are able to perceive every major step that will be required to implement a ministry vision. However, they often assume that other people are also able to perceive these steps, and will appreciate the scope of the plan they wish to set in motion. Unfortunately, many other leader-types quickly become overwhelmed by the vast design details offered by the Strategic Planner. Strategic Planners can experience frustration and personal rejection when their “master plans” are not adopted, or are altered without their input.
The Manager category consists of Administrators and Team Leaders.
Administrators are highly task-oriented and love to address the many operational details associated with any mission or project. They generally are not good at multi-tasking, preferring rather to work from a check-off list in their Day Planner or PDA. They gain great satisfaction from checking off accomplishments that provide resources and support to other team members, from their list. Administrators are able to implement and address the many operational details identified within a strategic plan. They are faithful, loyal, hard working individuals. However, they tend to associate their self-worth with the tasks they accomplish. If they “drop a ball”, which is rare, they will often internally punish themselves harshly. They may have difficulty delegating tasks to others, mistakenly assuming that “if you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself”.
Team Leaders are unique. They are the only leadership style that has one foot in the task-oriented world, and one foot in the relational world. This unique ability to “bridge the two worlds” enables Team Leaders to be both mission-driven and sensitive to relational dynamics. Team Leaders are very mission driven. They naturally gather around themselves people to “go do” some mission or event. Team members often develop deep loyalties to their Team Leader because of the Team Leader’s ability to help each member accomplish a significant mission for Christ, while also affirming each team member emotionally and spiritually. Team Leaders can make excellent pastors and staff.
However, Team Leaders do have a significant danger associated with them. The Team Leader profile is the leadership style commonly associated with a church split. In such cases, the Team Leader can point to many mission successes that have earned him or her loyalty from a significant pool of team members. Praise and admiration from team members can lead the Team Leader to become prideful, like King Nebuchadnezzar who said: “Is not this the great [ministry] I have built as [my church], by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty” (Daniel 4:30)? Prideful Team Leaders may feel that they are personally responsible for the various ministry successes within the church, and that if only they could be unencumbered by the restrictions of their superiors, they could be unleashed to accomplish even greater things. For this reason, Team Leaders should be surrounded with healthy accountability people to address any pride issue while it is small and manageable.
The Nurturer category consists of Pastoral Leaders and Encouraging Leaders.
The Pastoral Leader is relationally-driven and task-task avoidant. The Pastoral Leader is generally concerned about the emotional and spiritual welfare of the group, team, or congregation…internally they ask themselves, “How are WE doing” emotionally and spiritually? Pastoral Leaders need significant interpersonal time with people. Administrative office duties will likely depress a Pastoral Leader. Similarly, vision casting, strategic plans, and organizational structures are all task-oriented skills the Pastoral Leader will likely be unable to implement effectively. In some cases, Pastoral Leaders may even devalue and dismiss systems and organizational structures as unimportant. Pastoral Leaders often wonder why everyone doesn’t simply minister as they do…person to person. The Pastoral Leader generally values small groups, recovery ministries, one-on-one discipleship, home visitations, hospital visitations, and social gatherings. The Apostle John was a classic Pastoral Leader. His repeated appeal to love God and love one another within his letters portrays his pastoral passion (1 John 3:11).
The Encouraging Leader is our last leadership style. Like the Pastoral Leader, Encouraging Leaders are highly relational and task-avoidant. However, they are different in their overall ministry focus…While the Pastoral Leader asks “How are WE doing”, the Encouraging Leader asks, “How are YOU doing” emotionally and spiritually? Encouraging Leaders are generally gifted at analyzing people. They are very self-aware of the emotions of people around them. This leadership-type is seldom showy or public. Often Encouraging Leaders work behind the scenes informally. They shy away from programs and administrative duties unless these enable the Encouraging Leader to spend quality time investing into individuals. Encouraging Leaders generally make excellent councilors, spiritual formation mentors, prayer warriors, and recovery ministry leaders. They may also function well as small group leaders if the small group members are able to “go deep” with one another, spiritually and emotionally.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, was a classic Encouraging Leader, so much so that the Apostles gave him the nickname Barnabus which means, “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36).
It is important that we not only understand our preferred leadership style, and utilize that style effectively, it is also important that we appreciate that God has given us ministry partners who possess differing styles of leadership. Our challenge as leaders is to learn to value these differing leader-types, and to partner with them not merely as our “helpers”, but as co-workers for Christ.
Below you will find a simplified Leadership Style assessment I utilize within live seminars and workshops. The online version hosted by AssessMe.org is far more accurate, but the results of this simplified assessment will give you significant insights into your personal leadership style. I encourage you to have other staff and lay leaders take the Leadership Style assessment so that you can build a more effective ministry team, positioning each team member according to their divinely designed leadership style.
A Simple Leadership Style Assessment
Pioneering: Score: _____
_____ I am a risk-taker
_____ I am motivated by a noble vision
_____ I am happiest when I lead others in new ministry ventures
_____ I am driven to create and build
_____ I am dissatisfied with the status quo
Strategic Planner: Score: _____
_____ I excel at creating systems
_____ I see myself as an architect, creating master plans
_____ I just think strategically
_____ I would rather “design” than “do”
_____ I use check-off lists for tasks
_____ I am very organized
_____ I see all the tasks associated with running a ministry
_____ I hate seeing “balls dropped”
_____ I gain great satisfaction when a task is finally completed
_____ I love to lead teams of people
_____ I see myself “in the trenches”
_____ I like to “make things happen”
_____ People look to me for leadership because I care about them
_____ I care more about people than mission…people are the mission
_____ I highly value unity and harmony
_____ I enjoy serving people
_____ I naturally nurture the spiritual & emotional welfare of others
_____ I seek the welfare of the group
_____ I prefer one-on-one ministry
_____ I tend to analyze an individual’s spiritual development
_____ People come to me for counsel
_____ People feel better when they talk to me or spend time with me
About the Author
David Posthuma’s leadership style consists of a Pioneer/Strategic Planner blend, with a Planner ministry temperament.
He is the founder of E-Church Essentials and the chief architect of the AssessMe.org online ministry mobilization assessment program. David has served as a church revitalizer, church plant pastor, church consultant, and since 1998, has designed software solutions for the ministry market. This article is adapted from his book, Made for a Mission….The ultimate resource for team building and ministry mobilization (CLC Publications, 2008).
David resides in Holland, Michigan with his wife Tamara, and their two children, Joshua and Alyssa. For booking information, please call 1-800-724-1159, or visit www.AssessMe.org/extra.
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