Thursday, May 31, 2007

End the Myth of the Perfect Pastor!

No pastor or church leader can be all things to all people. But how many of us -- driven by the myth of the perfect pastor and by our own fear of appearing incompetent in any way -- wear ourselves out and even end up damaging our teams and churches trying to maintain the image that we're the flawless leader?

In the complexity of today's ministry environment, that is a guaranteed formula for failure

The February 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review includes an article titled "In Praise of the Incomplete Leader" (Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malong, Wanda J. Orlikowski and Peter M. Senge) that was reprinted here.

They argue that leadership exists at all levels of the organization, where you find expertise, vision, new ideas and commitment:

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization. Only when leaders come to see themselves as incomplete—as having both strengths and weaknesses—will they be able to make up for their missing skills by relying on others.”

These MIT researchers break down leadership into four capabilities:

sensemaking (understanding the context in which an organization and its people operate),

relating (building relationships within and across organizations),

visioning (creating a compelling picture of the future), and

inventing (developing new ways to achieve the vision).

Few, if any, leaders are skilled in all four capabilities. In fact, they argue that the most effective leaders accept being incomplete. But they don't just stop there. They understand their own weaknesses and compensate for them by identifying/recruiting team members who bring those needed strengths to the table.

“It’s the leader’s responsibility to create an environment that lets people complement one another’s strengths and offset one another’s weaknesses. In this way, leadership is distributed across multiple people throughout the organization.”

Have you ever bluffed or faked you way through in an area where you knew you weren't strong but you felt you have to preserve the image of the flawless pastor?

“Even the most talented leaders require the input and leadership of others, constructively solicited and creatively applied...It’s time to celebrate the incomplete—that is, the human— leader.”

Maybe it's time to celebrate the less than omni-competent pastor too!

But he (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)