By: Don Cousins

Giving individuals the type of direction they need is one of the most important aspects of effective pastoral management.

Concept: Ken Blanchard’s situational leadership (from Leadership and the One Minute Manager) makes a leader’s responsibilities clear. I prefer to call it personalized leadership, however, because it reminds me that I’m leading people, not just handling situations.

Four Ways to Lead

Blanchard sees four different leadership styles–direction, coaching, support, and delegation–which should be used according to workers’ competence and confidence.

Direction. Some workers need point-by-point direction until they gain experience. The job is to give them detailed instructions and basically to lead the ministry through them, probably for at least a year.

Coaching. We can coach workers whose confidence and competence are growing. They come to us with good ideas, and we add some of our own, so that the ministry becomes a joint venture.

Key words: Affirmation and redirection. Coaches are generous with praise and ready to correct when necessary.

Support. After about another year, workers are ready to set their own agendas. The supervisor’s role now is to provide emotional support, encouragement, affirmation, and whatever correction and advice is necessary. The worker being supported knows what to do; he or she primarily needs a cheerleader.

Delegation. Here, the leader turns the ministry over to the individual, for the most part. Reporting continues, but it becomes less frequent; the leash is long.

Key: Delegation doesn’t mean abdication. The delegating leader doesn’t hand over the responsibility, walk away, and provide no further leadership.

The message should be: “This is your ministry. You build it. But I want to stay in touch. I’m here to serve you.

Good Matches

Supervisors easily offend people by giving them the wrong leadership. The one expecting support yet receiving direction starts to wonder, Why is he running my ministry and trying to tell me what to do?

On the other hand, if someone wants direction and all the supervisor does is stop by every three weeks and say, “Hey, good job. Keep it up,” that person will feel no one is leading him or her.

In order to lead properly each person under our management, we must ask ourselves, Based on competence and confidence, does this person need direction, coaching, support, or delegation?

Next step: “Contract” with each person about the kind of leadership to be provided, so each knows which to expect. Benefit: It prevents misunderstanding and frustration.

Example: Our people are familiar with Blanchard’s system, so usually twice a year I sit down with them and discuss their leadership needs. Result: Our workers get the kind of leadership they need.

(The above material appeared in the July/August 1991 issue of the Your Church.)

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