On a clear day you can see forever…the challenge for leaders is how to interpret what you see when you get to the top floor and start looking around. It’s not enough to be there looking. Leaders are tasked with being able to categorize, communicate and change according to what they see.
I am sure you’ve hear the mantra, especially in ministry, that “you have to meet people where they are.” It’s wise to try and do so. But how do you figure out where people “are?” One of the first things leaders ought to do is to understand the culture that influences those entrusting themselves to your leadership. That requires being able to do a cultural analysis: to be able to identify assumptions, values, artifacts and symbols that influence those you are trying to serve. THAT’S taking “where they are” very seriously. For ecclesial leaders, that also means being able to take one cultural analysis and overlay it on the culture that is to be created by living the Gospel. Then it becomes possible to see the areas of congruence and of challenge and confrontation…the places where conversion is called for.
Along with categorizing through the lens of cultural analysis, leaders need to hone the skill of clarity: clarity of content, clarity with messaging, clarity with emotions and assuring clarity from the side of the receivers. To share what you see from the top-floor view such that it has the capacity to influence decisions and direction requires clarity in communication. What skills does this require of leaders? Humility and courage. But not the kind of humility you are first thinking…leaders need humility to admit what they do not know and thus to commit to be a continuous learner. Clarity comes with knowledge and understanding. Humble leaders know that’s always more of that to gather in and use.
It’s also not the kind of courage you may be thinking. Leaders need a specific kind of courage: emotional. This means leaders committed to clarity are also committed to knowing what the feelings are in any given situation: theirs and others. They commit to identifying their own emotions in such a way that their emotions serve clarity in communication. You all know when emotions have created foggy communication: you know the leader is mad, sad, irritated, frustrated, exhausted, or overburdened because you get half-responses, directions without details, or you get an emotion-laden outburst that no one knows how to respond to. A commitment to clarity is a commitment to emotional courage…for leaders and for those being led. Since emotion drives behavior, this is critical.
Finally, leaders need to be able to lead change, and ecclesial leaders need to be adept at this, because following Jesus is a journey of constant conversion. Leading change needs skill sets in the area of passion (yes, passion is a skill!), more emotional courage, and skills that foster persistence.
On a clear day you can see forever, but if leaders cannot interpret, communicate and lead change based on what they see, then the trip to the top-floor was simply a field trip to enjoy the view. If you are feeling encouraged and challenged to hone these skills, see what we have to offer and contact us. Remember, what got us here cannot get us to the “there” Jesus desires…so choose to learn new ideas and skills to bolster your leadership. Jesus expects it and His Body desperately needs it.