Exploring Various Ministry Styles
Looking at various leadership styles and how they are used in ministry
Repeating a description from Week Three: "Self-awareness is one of the most neglected aspects of leadership." In other words, the leader must have a good read on their own strengths and weaknesses in order to know how to best lead and/or shepherd other people. This week we will specifically focus on the various leadership styles of those called to either Christian service or pastoral ministry.
The purpose of this week’s lecture and readings are not meant to give you more information than you need (though you may feel that way). It is an effort to help you see who you are, and how to "operate" in ministry with your particular gifts, strengths, passions, and personality styles. Not all people are the same. Ministry leaders are also people and, as a result, are not the same. Every leader has a different personality, worldview and disposition on different things.
The common thing to all of us who are called, is that we exist to serve and lead. That is whyã€€we are here. But how we lead or serve becomes somewhat optional. We can train leaders on the principles of ministry and strategies of leadership but we may not be able to completely shape what or who they become as leaders. This is because every leader has a different personality and every personality works differently in their various settings. But be assured, personality does influence how you lead or serve.
As a leader you will have a style of leadership you most naturally use. You will tend to fall into this style almost without thinking about it. Each leadership style has situations in which it is the most appropriate one to use. Collaborative ministry is not about having to restrict one’s self to a particular style only. (For example, some people think that collaborative ministry rules out "leading from the front" and being decisive; this is not the case, but the point is to be aware of when that style is needed.) Anyone who is in leadership needs to understand how he or she is most naturally likely to lead. Once you are aware of this, you can take steps to learn other styles so that you can use them when they will be more effective. Most of us can learn how to operate some of the time in a way that comes less easily to us, though we are likely to do this less often than we use our more natural style.
Different leadership styles are effective in different ministry or community contexts. In his blog on leadership Blessing Mpofu suggests, "leaders can take into account the personalities they lead." For example, a relational leader may find it easier to lead in a team-based ministry. On the other hand the relational leader may be tempted to put relationships ahead of results. While other leaders may, because of their style, focus more on the tasks, strategy and ideation.
It is not that leaders have one leadership style per se. What is called "leadership style" is generally one’s primary and predominant response(s) or disposition as they lead. Which leadership style is best? Which leadership style is better than the other? Or, which is the best leadership style? None.
In the same blog, Mpofu also states, "there is no one leadership style that is best. Neither is there one leadership style that is better than another." What makes the difference is howã€€leaders manage themselves in leading. One of the reasons groups or teams get frustrated with leadership is not necessarily their leadership style but the context in which a particular style is used. The most important thing for leaders is to understand themselves and the context in which their predominant styles and tendencies work best.
Many different theories of leadership have been developed through years of research with groups and organizations, such as "Situational Leadership." The proponents of Situational Leadership (as shared by Kim DeKlein and Meg Penstone) would explain that the style a leader chooses depends mostly upon the group's level of readiness. That is, how willing and able the members are to take responsibility as a group. Situational Leadership for example, recognizes that the leader must be flexible and the group members are the most important factor.
There is one other thought I would share here before we move to some further analysis of styles. Your ministry style or more precisely, your leadership style in Christian work will go a long way in determining what leadership role you play in the ministry. Some, unfortunately, do not even consider their leadership style before taking a position. They should. A minister’s leadership style affects his or her compatibility with those to whom he or she ministers. In other words, it will make a big difference in whether or not the ministry team, organization, or the congregation will actually follow him or her. This does not discount the reality that a leader may use various styles based on the context or group. However, a leader will always move to their default settings in times of pressure, stress, or need. Therefore, if a particular group’s default of what they need, want, or expect in and from their leader is radically different from what your default leadership style may happen to be, there could be some major conflict (to say the least). Blessing Mpofu in his blog suggested, "Screwdrivers are great, but ineffective when you need to pound a nail into the wall."
The following two sections of this lecture are specific articles focused on "leadership styles." The first is from the Malphurs Group that has worked effectively with four basic styles of leading, while the second article is based on a 2002 book by Bill Hybels (Courageous Leadership) pointing out ten leadership styles. In the article on Hybels, pay close attention to the percentage of ministers who claimed a particular style. Note in each article where you see yourself. Somewhere in your posting online in class this week, make note of where you see yourself in regard to Malphurs’ list and also in the Hybel’s list. I will make some additional comments at the conclusion of the second article.
Article I: The Four Leadership Styles (from the Malphurs Group)
Directions: Read the following descriptions of the four leadership styles. Which best describes you as a leader? Note the contexts where you minister best and the strengths that you bring to that context or situation. Also, be aware of your weaknesses.
1. Directors (The Strong Leadership Style)
Context. Directors are task-oriented leaders. As such, they bring this strength to ministries that need more task orientation.
Strengths. Directors excel at the task-oriented aspects of leadership. Some are visionaries and most set lofty goals for their ministries and regularly challenge people to accomplish those goals. They’re change agents who question the status quo and may struggle with maintaining traditions. They tend to be point pastors in their churches and are often involved in leading church planting and refocusing efforts.
Weaknesses. While Directors are strong, task-oriented leaders, they often struggle with the relational side of leadership. They have to resist the temptation to take control of a ministry and to work around rather than with a ministry team.
2. Inspirationals (The Personable Leadership Style)
Context. Inspirationals are people-oriented leaders that bring this strength to ministries that need a more relational orientation. Like the Directors, they often gravitate to lead positions, especially in church contexts.
Strengths. Some temperament tools call Inspirational leaders influencers because they tend to be natural born leaders, especially in relating well to people. Thus, they, too, often lead church planting and refocusing efforts.
Weaknesses. However, some Inspirationals can be loud and obnoxious. They enjoy being the center of attention, and that often bothers followers. While Inspirationals are strong relationally, they may struggle at accomplishing necessary leadership tasks and may prove to be weak at administration.
3. Diplomats. (The Supportive Leadership Style)
Context. Diplomats are people-oriented leaders who, like the Inspirationals, bring a more relational orientation to the ministry context. They lead best in situations that call for a person that is caring, supportive, friendly, and patient They prefer a slower ministry pace and resist change environments because they’re concerned about the risks change brings and how it will affect people.
Strengths. Other leaders praise Diplomats for their loyalty and support, especially in difficult times. They are great team players that cooperate well with their teammates in accomplishing ministry tasks.
Weaknesses. Some people complain that Diplomats are so nice that it’s hard to be angry with them when you need to be-you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Diplomats would benefit by being more proactive and taking the initiative in ministry opportunities.
4. Analyticals (The Conscientious Leadership Style)
Context. Analyticals are task-oriented leaders. Thus, they can bring certain complementary, task-oriented abilities to their ministry contexts. They lead well in ministry situations calling for people that are analytical, factual, probing, detail oriented, and that demand high quality. An example is an academic or teaching setting such as a Bible College or seminary classroom. They also function well as lead pastors of churches that emphasize a strong pulpit characterized by deep Bible teaching, the teacher-pastor model.
Strengths. Analyticals are conscientious; self disciplined leaders that are self-starters. They are good at evaluating their church and ministry programs and holding churches to their theological moorings. Some people are attracted to Analyticals for their careful, accurate Bible teaching. Analyticals who preach prefer to cover the Bible in depth, using lots of facts and details to support their conclusions.
Weaknesses. In their leadership roles, Analyticals attempt to maintain the status quo or even look to the past and tradition for direction. Consequently, they may not see the need to move into the future and consider new ministry approaches. Analyticals have a tendency to be critical of innovative leaders that do ministry differently, and they may even stir up negative feelings toward them. They would benefit much by developing strong relational ministry skills with their staff and congregation.
NOTE: These leadership styles also combine to form at least sixteen different styles. For example, the Director style could have the following combinations: Director-
Inspirational, Director-Diplomat, and Director-analytical. Perhaps you noted that you have a combination of two or possibly more styles.
Article II: Leadership Styles by John Sweetman
Bill Hybels suggests that the biblical gift of leadership is expressed in different ways. Highly effective leaders often have high impact because their leadership style meshes perfectly with their specific ministry context. Different situations require different styles of leadership. Hybels (Courageous Leadership, 2002, pp. 141-156) outlines ten leadership styles. (The percentage of pastors with each leadership style comes from a 2003 American survey.)
The Visionary Leadership Style (18%)
Visionary leaders have a crystal clear picture of what the future could hold, cast powerful visions, and have indefatigable enthusiasm for turning those visions into reality. They are idealistic, faith-filled leaders who wholeheartedly believe that if they cast their vision clearly enough and often enough, it will become reality.
The Directional Leadership Style (11%)
Directional leaders have the God-given ability to choose the right path for an organization as it approaches a critical intersection. Christian organizations face points when they must decide whether significant change is important or a distraction. Mistakes at key intersections can wreck organizations. Directional leaders sort through the options and make a good choice.
The Strategic Leadership Style (5%)
Strategic leaders take an exciting vision and break it down into a series of sequential, achievable steps. They form a game plan that everyone can understand and participate in and lead the implementation of that plan. They also strive to bring the ministry teams into alignment so that all the energy is focused on achieving the vision.
The Managing Leadership Style (3%)
Managing leaders organize people, processes, and resources to achieve a mission. They love bringing order out of chaos and find satisfaction in organizing, monitoring and fine-tuning a process. While they don’t always captivate attention, managing leaders are essential to making things happen.
The Motivational Leadership Style (1%)
Motivational leaders have the ability to keep their team fired up. They move quickly to inspire those who are tiring and cheer progress, celebrate accomplishments, and make people feel important and significant. They view low morale as an opportunity to dream of new ways to inspire.
The Shepherding Leadership Style (26%)
Shepherding leaders create teams that really form community through the nurture, support, understanding, and prayer of the leader. It’s not so much the cause that motivates the team, but the deep sense of being loved and feeling significant. Some people need shepherding to be drawn into mission.
The Team-Building Leadership Style (8%)
Team-building leaders have supernatural insight into people that allows them to successfully find and develop the right people with the right abilities, the right character, and the right chemistry to form a strong team. They pursue the vision, but through the ministry of the team. They may or may not be skilled at managing their teams.
The Entrepreneurial Leadership Style (1%)
Entrepreneurial leaders love to start new ventures. If they can’t regularly give birth to something new, they begin to lose energy. Once a new venture is operational and needs the maintenance of systems and people, they tend to lose enthusiasm and focus. It is important for them to have opportunity to start new ministries on a regular basis.
The Reengineering Leadership Style (2%)
Reengineering leaders thrive on the challenge of a difficult situation, like a team that has lost its vision or a ministry with the wrong people in the wrong positions. They like to turn things around. They love to patch up, tune up, and revitalize hurting ministries. Some stay after fixing things and others have to find a new challenging situation.
The Bridge-Building Leadership Style (15%)
Bridge-building leaders make important contributions to large ministries because they can bring together a wide range of constituent groups under a single leadership umbrella. They are enormously flexible and possess strong ability to compromise and negotiate. They love the challenge of relating to diverse groups of people. They help each subgroup to develop a healthier perspective and to realize that their goals and those of the overall mission are compatible.
With so much emphasis this week on styles of ministry, along with gifts, strengths, passions, and talents, I want to conclude this particular lecture with a note about "Servant-"Leadership."
The term "Servant-Leadership" was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in a 1970 essay entitled "The Servant as Leader." Larry Spears writing for Leader to Leader asserted, "Slowly but surely, Greenleaf 's servant-leadership writings have made a deep, lasting impression on leaders, educators, and many others who are concerned with issues of leadership, management, service, and personal growth." Spears, adds from Greenleaf, "True leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others." Or to put it another way, "The great leader is first experienced as a servant to others."
Greenleaf discussed in his works, the need for a better approach to leadership. He stated:
Servant-leadership emphasizes increased service to others, a holistic approach to work, promoting a sense of community, and the sharing of power in decision making. The words servant and leader are usually thought of as being opposites. When two opposites are brought together in a creative and meaningful way, a paradox emerges. So the words servant and leader have been brought together to create the paradoxical idea of servant-leadership.
There is so much more to the story of Robert Greenleaf and the movement of "Servant-Leadership." I suggest your reading include at least a perusal of Greenleaf’s material or at the very least, reading all of Larry Spears. "Practicing Servant Leadership." But at the very least, be aware of this concept, which for me depicts the very ministry and style of Jesus Christ Himself…a servant and a leader, profoundly connected as "both and." It may be easy to "get off track" with all the emphasis on knowing your strengths, gifts, passions, and talents. You may even be tempted toward pride at times. But remember, "The great leader is first experienced as a servant to others."
Our call to service and ministry is first and foremost about Jesus Christ and His mission, and secondly about the people to whom He has sent us to minister.
|Due By (Pacific Time)||11/14/2015 08:00 pm|
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