by Rick Chromey
Every elder leads with style.
Some elders are active leaders. They like to be in command and want to get work done. Some elders are passive leaders. They prefer working from the shadows, watching and waiting until the time is right.
Some elders lead emotively. They work from their hearts, leading “randomly” with a focus on people. Some elders lead cognitively. They manage from their heads, operating more sequentially and focus upon tasks.
Consequently, four different leadership personalities emerge (and you are one of them).
Active / Emotive: The Game Show Host
Game Show Host elders are inspirational leaders. They are delightful, gregarious, daring and charismatic. Their active nature creates energy and their emotive connections spark attention and affection. They make decisions through hunches and measure success by applause.
But Game Show Hosts also carry liabilities. By default, they are not planners and are often undisciplined. They dislike details, schedules, lists, and deadlines. Their randomness frustrates sequential leaders (Chefs and Stage Managers) and this disconnect creates conflict related to their spontaneity, riskiness, tardiness and messiness.
Active / Cognitive: The Chef
Chef elders are confident leaders. They enjoy taking the lead and cooking up flavor. They are decisive, reliable, organized and practical. Their active nature puts legs underneath dreams and their cognitive nature creates recipes for success. Many chefs are master communicators and visionary leaders. They make decisions through highly-developed intuition and measure success by completing the mission.
But Chefs aren’t perfect. They can easily become rogue or lone ranger leaders. They can thrive in conflict and heat, which irritates the other styles. They don’t always care about hurt feelings or disgruntled people. Their high expectations – for others and themselves – can create an environment of perfectionism and workaholism.
Passive / Cognitive: The Stage Manager
Integrity is the heart of a Stage Manager elders. They don’t need the stage or spotlight to influence change. Rather, these elders operate to the side with well-designed scripts to ensure the work is a success. They are thoughtful, disciplined, cautious and efficient, economical leaders. Their passive nature naturally brakes for change, especially with abruptly-conceived visions (frustrating Game Show Hosts) and disagreeable ideas (angering Chefs). Stage Managers want every decision to be measured and reasonable. Consequently, they make decisions on the facts and gauge success by security and rationality.
Stage Managers are not without flaws, however. They can stall good plans, resist positive change and by stymied by “analysis paralysis.”
Passive / Emotive: The Counselor
The Counselor personality is an elder who leads with compassion. These sensitive, people-focused, tender leaders are always seeking compromise, resolution and interaction. Their passive nature makes them bristle at conflict and their emotive sensibility drives them to nurture relationships. They are dependable, diplomatic, relaxed and patient to a fault. They make decisions based upon consensus and measure success by general feelings of goodness, forgiveness and positivity.
This idealism, however, can create issues for Counselors. They can crack under pressure, avoid risks, disengage, disappear without notice, and grow frustrated with conflict. Counselors don’t want to leave anyone out, behind, or down.
Every great and working eldership will include each of these personalities.
We need Game Show Hosts to lighten the mood, inspire change and motivate people. We need Chefs to craft vision, challenge assumptions and move the church forward. We need Stage Managers to monitor change, calculate risks and create concrete plans. We need Counselors to resolve conflicts, show compassion and generate interaction.
No one style is better than another and like the parts of the human body, every personality contributes something to the cause. One final thought: an eldership that’s top-heavy in one style will prove dysfunctional.
Too many Chefs spoil the broth (as every chef prefers their own agenda). With too many Game Show Hosts, nothing will get done (since detailed plans and deadlines are necessary for success). Too many Stage Managers will stall the organization (because every stage manager wants everything “perfectly perfect”). Too many Counselors and there will be chaos (as consensus rule is naturally messy).
The best eldership will feature all four styles.
And that’s a winning combination.