I have a 4-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. It didn’t take me long through trial and mostly error, before I quickly realized they are so incredibly different. One really is from Mars…but I won’t disclose which! They are different sexes, have different love languages, and react to discipline in different ways. Although I don’t understand why exactly, I’ve learned to simply accept it and ultimately embrace it. My daughter, Oharah, is joy-filled yet emotional, thrives on words of affirmation and reaches her fullest potential through positive reinforcement. My son, Gentry, is sweet-spirited, yet sensitive, prefers quality time (being grounded and sent to his room is like serving a life sentence in his eyes). The greatest mistake I can make as a parent is to not parent them as individuals. If I were to try and lead them both in the same way, I would fail. It would be a frustrating and fruitless method. As a mother, I must speak two different languages to my very two different children.
Isn’t leadership quite the same?
“Interactive management is a process of dealing with people as individuals in order to build trust, openness, and honesty in the manager-employee relationship, thereby improving productivity in the organizational setup. To treat your employees as unique individuals, you as the manager must understand what makes them different from one another. With this knowledge, you can go about managing your employees as unique individuals with unique personalities, problem, and needs. This ‘custom-tailored’ approach to managing employees in an organizational setting is one of the major thrust of interactive management.” The Art of Managing People, by Tony Alessandra.
While leading volunteers, all of whom have different skill sets, unique talents and individual gifts, we must make appropriate adaptations.
“God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” 1 Peter 4:10
As director of the kid’s worship service at my church, I had a wonderful group of volunteers with a plethora of amazing capabilities. There’s the successful attorney who thrives backstage with thoroughness, efficiency and excellence, A Phd with the gift of helps who cheerfully arrives early Sunday morning to set up the stage and chairs, A creative writer with great stage presence, full of Chutzpah, smart wit, and perfect comedic timing. The interactive 35-minute production designed for kids and their parents is chocked full of drama, video, and music. Over 100 volunteers, with much preparation and diligence throughout the entire week, are assimilated to pull off the worship service effectively. There are costumes, props, scripts, PowerPoint presentations, music, set up, tear-down, marketing, creative teams – just to name a few details involved in this incredible ministry! During this process, it’s rather evident that each volunteer leader speaks a different language. I don’t manage the CPA the same way I do the Creative Artist. I cast vision differently, I shepherd differently, I encourage differently, and I recruit differently. I’m the same leader, yet the way in which I communicate is quite distinct. For example, some of my favorite volunteers to manage are the artists.
Ah, the creative geniuses of the church have great strengths; they accomplish art I can’t even dream up. Artists of video, drama, music, design are single-mindedly devoted to their craft, and often see the world in shades of gray rather than black and white. Many of them resist quick or simplistic conclusions. These right-brained thinkers don’t accomplish tasks by going to meetings, checking to-do lists, or conforming to strict deadlines. These out of the box volunteers are invaluable to a team, however; they are deep thinkers, build relationships and put people before paper. In other words, when approaching an artist in your church, don’t simply begin by ordering assignments. Rather, strike up a conversation about their week, their life, their feelings. Invite them out for coffee, a show, your house for dinner. These passionate souls feel emotions deeply and you’ll gain their respect when treated like an individual. These guys demand authenticity and consistently need to know why they’re doing what they’re doing and how they’re making a difference in His kingdom. How fun are they; so polar opposite of other team members. For instance, I managed an over-achiever volunteer who is Vice President of Marketing. Whenever I call her, she much prefers that I make my point and make it quickly. She wants a list of things I need and a deadline and then for me to hang up and let her get busy. This self-starter doesn’t want to be micromanaged, and surely doesn’t have time for conversation. So, I simply make my request, make my point and follow up a day or two before the event. If I acted like that with my creative artists, they would certainly screen my next call!
“You must give proper honor to all who serve so well.” 1 Corinthians 16:17
Don’t be afraid to lead each person as an individual. Study their personality, learn their likes, dislikes, understand their dialect and always be flexible with your management styles.
“Inflexibility is one of the worst human failings. You can learn to check impetuosity, overcome fear with confidence, and laziness with discipline. But for rigidity of mind there is no antidote. It carries the seeds of its own destruction.” – Anonymous.
Discern your team member’s personal lives, assimilate their professional roles and productivity will increase within your team and organizational setting.
Michael McGraff states, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
Amen to that, Michael! Become a bilingual leader and you will attract a diverse group of uniquely beautiful individuals most likely the type who illustrate talents, gifts, and abilities well beyond your own!
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