Saturday, March 19, 2016

Seminary PL1: Categories of Leadership

So we've finished Person of the Minister in the Seminary in a Nutshell series. For several reasons, I've decided to skip all the way to the end of the series to the final unit on pastoral leadership (PL). I'll come back to the context of a minister after the leadership unit.

1. There are three distinct elements in the direction of an organization, including the church. We might call these leadership, management, and administration. My colleague Bob Whitesel categorizes leadership in a way that bears some resemblance to these three categories. He speaks of strategic leadership, tactical leadership, and operational leadership.

Leadership has to do with the direction of the church or organization. John Maxwell is known for saying that "leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less." [1] Leaders are not always the people with the official power. Often the informal leaders in an organization are more important to its movement than those who hold the formal positions.

In our consideration of leadership, we will want to consider topics like leadership traits and styles, strategic planning, casting vision and facilitating mission, change leadership, team leadership, and financial development.

2. Management has to do with orchestrating the structure, relationships, and high level operations of an organization or church. If leadership has to do with the overall direction and spirit of an organization, management has to do with directing the parts of the organization itself so it can move in that direction.

Often those who are great leaders are not great managers, and often those who are great managers are not great leaders. Good leaders tend to be big picture people who generate enthusiasm and motivation on an organization wide level. Great managers tend to be more concrete and are involved in the higher level specifics of an organization. Leaders sometimes fly at a higher level, managers are involved in the major operations of the organizations.

Often it takes a leader-manager pair for an organization to thrive. Often there is a "face person," the leader, who generates enthusiasm and propels a church or organization forward with a sense of mission and vision. But make no mistake, without the tactical leadership of a good manager, such leaders often go nowhere or their ideas dissolve into the either. Both sets of skills are usually necessary for a movement to go anywhere.

Management involves subjects like organizational structure, conflict management, financial management, marketing, staff management, and managerial ethics.

3. Administration, as I am defining it, deals with the more nuts and bolts level of an organization, its day to day operations. "Operational leadership" requires great skill on the level of detail. David Drury once suggested to me that an organization maybe solid like a statue at the top but crumble under its own weight if its feet are not solid. So it is that great ideas go nowhere without a good tactician to implement them and good administrators of the details.

So the administration of a church or organization includes the orchestration of the details, from finances and taxes to form-filling and schedule arranging. Who sets up the website? Who maintains it? Who answers the phones and what are their work schedules? On a personal level, what are your time management skills?

While these categories and descriptions may sound very businesslike, they apply to the functions of the church. We can identify the people in the church who perform these functions or we can tell the stories of the times when something blatantly obvious--like unlocking the church for the wedding--didn't happen. The church either has people who perform these roles, whatever we call them, or the church is falling apart.

[1] E.g., Developing the Leader Within You (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 1.

[2] I have found 12Stone Church to be an excellent model of good leadership from the very top all the way to the very bottom. Kevin Myers is an excellent strategic leader who knows how to see where the Lord wants to take the church and cast vision for it. Dan Reiland and others like Chris Huff are excellent tactical planners and managers. Then there are a host of operational geniuses who get the details done, people like Robin Ritchie.

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