DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

What Happens When Leaders Look Out The Window?

Written by: on November 15, 2018

Kets De Vries envelopes me within his text and dares me to go beyond the surface – He challenges me to question the WHY of my WHAT. For years, I have been compelled by the cries of my generation. However, ministering to Millennials and Gen Z is not the same as working alongside them. It’s easy to lead when you’re the only person on stage; however, it gets a bit more complex when you’re leading alongside a team of varied backgrounds, visions, callings and ages. There’s an old African Proverb that reads, If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Effective leadership requires us to go together – it requires us to lean in and create organizations that bring multiple voices and visions.

As I read through this week’s text, I gained a better perspective and appreciation for my team. I realized that I needed to change aspects of my presentation to minister to their personality. For instance, according to Kets De Vries, I think from both left and right hemisphere equally, which is why I respond well to organization, flexibility of schedule and outlined structure. However, the majority of my team are right brain thinkers and value storytelling, constant feedback and the opportunity to contribute their creative ideas. This is how they feel connected to LOUD. After reading The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise, I realized that I was operating from my own personal preferences and then questioning their investment. I sent my team organized notes, kept them up-to-date on activities and tried to create a space of trust; however, that’s not what they were looking for, which is why they felt disengaged.

The world is no longer operating from a place of hierarchical leadership and blind company loyalty, which is why “organizational leadership, now more than ever, needs to find ways to bind people to the organization.”[1] Kets De Vries suggests, “Anyone dealing in ideas needs to take into consideration people’s abilities to implement those ideas.”[2] Effective leadership starts with team assessment. Therefore, the direction of the organization needs to operate at a communal pace in order to engage in purpose.

The majority of us in this program are either in full-time ministry within the church or parachurch, which is why it’s easy for us to place the same expectations on our team that we place on ourselves. However, the majority of our team members are voluntary or part-time employees. It’s unfair for us to demand the same standards of them that we demand from ourselves. In the words of the poet John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”[3] Organizational success is contingent upon the leader’s ability to work within the constructs of their team, not their aspirational team, but their actual team.

Too many times in ministry, we focus on the insular – the comfortable bubble of isolation. However, this causes our organizations to be constructed in personal assumption. This type of mindset stunts the growth of companies because it serves to minster to only one – us. Kets De Vries reveals that, “Leaders shouldn’t look in the mirror; they should look out the window! Only if they’re externally directed can they remain close to their customer base.”[4] Leaders are always going to be compelled. We are always going to be purposed in our search for meaning; however, only when we’re quiet enough to hear their whispers will we be able to give them a voice. “Any company’s success is directly linked to the degree that top executives in the company are trusted.”[5] This is why successful organizations create space for differences, they welcome feedback and they grow on the foundation of shared values.

All of us have questioned our identity, our personality and our presentation. However, most of us have failed to look beyond the surface and delve into the depths of our soul. Manfred Kets De Vries colors the text with his experience of economics, management and psychoanalysis.[6] He challenges us to understand that organizational success is dependent upon interpersonal relationships. “Effective business leadership is never limited to the acts of one heroic individual; rather, it operates in a context of employees and of the business, industry, and larger social environment.”[7] Kets De Vries dares us to understand that effective leadership is not wrought through isolation, but through communication.

 

 

[1]Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise, 2nd ed. (New York: FT Press, 2009), 54.

[2]Ibid., xxii.

[3]“No Man Is an Island – Poem by John Donne,” www.poemhunter.com, accessed November 15, 2018, https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/no-man-is-an-island/.

[4]Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise, 2nd ed. (New York: FT Press, 2009), 71.

[5]Ibid., 161.

[6]“Biography,” www.insead.edu, accessed November 15, 2018, https://www.insead.edu/faculty-research/faculty/manfred-f-r-kets-de-vries.

[7]Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise, 2nd ed. (New York: FT Press, 2009), 2.

About the Author

mm

Colleen Batchelder

I speak at conferences, churches, companies and colleges on intergenerational communication, marketing, branding your vision and living authentically in a ‘filtered’ world. My talks are customized to venue needs and audience interests. My passion is to speak with organizations and bridge the intergenerational gap. I consult with companies, individuals, churches and nonprofit organizations and help them create teams that function from a place of communication that bridges the generational gap. I’m also the Founder and President of LOUD Summit – a young adult organization that presents workshops, seminars and summits that encourage, empower and equip millennials to live out their destiny and walk in their purpose. When I’m not studying for my DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary, you can find me enjoying a nice Chai Latte, exploring NYC or traveling to a new and exotic destination.

11 responses to “What Happens When Leaders Look Out The Window?”

  1. Colleen,

    I think you’re right when you highlight the need for communication in building and motivating a team. Most of our organizations (churches, nonprofits) are powered by volunteers. Without a financial motivation, we need to find other ways to motivate the team. Building out right-brained thinking into action that emotionally connects with volunteers and inspires them to service is essential for all of us to have success in our roles.

    • Thank you, Mark!

      Kets De Vries’ text was perfect for the Christian ministry! The problem that I see with many leaders is the imbalance of rhythms within their teams. The lead pastor will cast their vision, outline the plan and then divvy out responsibility to their team. However, they’re soon met with pushback because they’re using their team as puppets instead of purposed individuals. Kets De Vries talked about the new form of leadership structure and stated, “In today’s business world, people and processes have become the central themes” (Kets De Vries 2006, 52). We will always have some form of hierarchy within leadership; however, the lines are becoming more blurred and the holistic performance of the organization is more important the charisma of the CEO. How would you connect this to church? Since you work with countless pastors and organizational leaders, what have you found is the greatest struggle that ties them together?

  2. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Colleen. Good job! I think that we really need to work hard on becoming more self aware, and then more self aware again to rise up in leadership. Keeping good emotional intelligence and good relationships can potentially be a kid we place on ourselves.

    • Thank you, Kyle!

      Self-awareness leads to self-actualization. Too many leaders are functioning from a script, instead of authentic and effective leadership. I’ve found that many Millennials and Gen Z function from a place of right-brain thinking and value participation. However, Xennials and older generations lean more towards left-brain thinking and hierarchy leadership. How have you seen the difference in preference evolve within church leadership? Do you find that many pastors are more open to flat surface leadership?

  3. Great post as always Colleen! My favorite part was…”There’s an old African Proverb that reads, If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Effective leadership requires us to go together – it requires us to lean in and create organizations that bring multiple voices and visions.” I couldn’t agree more, the best leadership happens in the community of others. This quote also reminded me of the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, which I think you would love if you haven’t read it. Here is the link: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B009LMTDL0&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_u3o8Bb69PAGJE

    • Thank you, Jake!

      Too many churches and organizations are filtered through the pastor/CEO. The problem with this, is that it creates a construct that is made in the image and with the preferences of the leader, instead of the audience. If we look at Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or others within the secular market, they built products that were relevant for their audience. However, when we look at many churches and Christian organizations, the organization is built upon the preferences of the leader. We wonder why people are leaving the church… Many are leaving because they’re no room for them within the sanctuary – their ideas are shut down; their voice is silenced, and their needs are pushed aside. Kets De Vries’ text is perfect for Christian leaders because it gives us the tools to function from a place of consideration and open communication.

      I love Sheryl Sandburg! Her book, Lean In changed my life! I saw her TED Talk years ago before reading her book and completely connected with her story and style of leadership. Her book, Option B builds upon her first publication and gives leaders the tools to create spaces of emotional intelligence within their spheres of influence.

  4. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Colleen!

    SO much appreciated your reminder of good leaders taking seriously “communication”! Then you coupled this with the quote, “Kets De Vries dares us to understand that effective leadership is not wrought through isolation, but through communication.”

    Outstanding! Community is key (vs isolation).

    I am trying to understand your team structure. How many on your team? As President and Founder of LOUD, do you oversee all aspects, or do you share the load with specific managers?

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Colleen!

    • Thank you, Jay!

      Communication is imperative. As Kets De Vries warns, “The divided nature of the organization prevents effective coordination and communication” (Kets De Vries 2006, 120). When leaders understand themselves, their board and their team, it enables the organization to lead from a healthy place.

      I’ve been in full-time ministry since I was 14 and I’ve been speaking at churches, colleges and conferences for the past 10 years. It was a difficult transition to go from solo ministry to team leadership. I currently work with 2 other board members, have a team of 10 full-time volunteers that run LOUD and have a group of 20 plus volunteers that serve during summits and workshops. This first year, has been interesting. I’m in NYC for 50% of the month, working with government leaders and pastors in the city. So, it’s been difficult to find the right pace for building LOUD and expanding our reach at the same time. I’ve had to learn to invest more time in my team, even if that means that we miss out on expanding LOUD as quickly as I’d prefer. Kets De Vries’ text encouraged me to see this slower pace as healthy for myself and my team. I’d rather have a good foundation and see my team succeed than rush ahead of them and overburden them with too much responsibility.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  5. Chris Pritchett says:

    Thanks for this post, especially the African proverb. I struggle with the temptation to go it alone all the time, and I think it has more to do with my own impatience than anything else. I appreciated your vulnerability and what a great word about team assessment being a critical starting point for leadership. We need to know the limitations of those we work with and the teams we lead. Sometimes I want/expect my team to do more than they are capable of, and the reminder is very helpful!

    • Thank you, Chris!

      I know exactly what you mean. I’ve always been highly independent. I love walking in NYC and just being by myself. There’s something euphoric about being in a room filled with strangers and being alone. I’ve definitely had to learn to yield my impatience to Christ. What has helped you the most when leading a team? How do you take time to make sure that everyone is in step?

  6. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Colleen,
    I’m so happy you connected to this text personally and professionally. Now I understand why it impacted you so significantly – it’s relevant to your own experience with Loud. Your observations about buy-in by volunteers is so accurate. How we empower and lead others can make or break an organization. Now that you’ve identified a new and improved mode of leadership, how will you approach your volunteers and what will you change in leading your team?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *