WHAT I AM LEARNING ABOUT LEADERSHIP
My ministerial training took place in the early nineties at the very height of the church growth movement. Words like, "duplication" and "multiplication" were the buzzwords of the time.
I remember being taught how to recruit, lead, and duplicate myself in others- strategies that I can, even today, still recite at the drop of a hat.
Step 1: "I do. You watch."
Step 2: "We do it together."
Step 3: "You do. I watch."
Step 4: "You do it on your own."
Step 5: "Look for someone capable and repeat steps 1 through 5 with them."
This was great advice for its intended purpose- i.e. numerical growth in Sunday worship attendance, volunteer recruitment, training, and retention.
But I always wondered why the steps weren't interspersed with anything personal, or in my case, "pastoral." I was encouraged to duplicate my skill set in people, but was rarely encouraged to get to know (I mean really know) people on a personal level. Duplication and numerical growth were always the goal, and so relationships always sat on the back burner somewhere. If there happened to be time and space left over after the task was complete, then we could get personal.
After all, when the goal was to "grow the business" why pause to talk about someone's emotions, fears, challenges, or triumphs? Doing that would steal time and energy from the task at hand.
Years later, I have come to realize that this model, from an operations standpoint is a good one, but on a personal level, a "fail" of epic proportions.
What I've learned about leadership over the years is that my goal ought not be to "copy myself" simply for the sake of getting results. In other words, I shouldn't be pressuring the people who work under me organizationally to think like I do, work like I do, and see the task at hand like I do. My goal ought to be to show the person all that I know, then allow them the freedom to modify things as it suits their own gifts and personality traits.
But here's the thing. This is absolutely impossible to do if I don't take time to get to know them personally and care about who (and how) they are more than I care about what they can produce for me.
Every time I operate in a "person centered" fashion, I see that people are able to take the knowledge I impart to them, internalize it, modify it, and (most of the time) come up with a better way of doing things than I had taught them in the first place.
(This, of course crushes my ego, but warms my heart).
With "knowing people" at the core of all the work, the work always gets done well because each person involved in the task knows the others' strengths and weaknesses, creating a system of "operational empathy." This produces better results in the long term, because people feel "utlilized" rather than "used."
This is the kind of leadership that I think the future demands of those of us who lead. Not leaders who make carbon copies of themselves to maintain uniformity and get faster results, but leaders who put relationships first, and in those relationships work together on the noble task at hand.