Is it possible to be the kind of leader that people naturally gravitate toward—to be irresistible? The study of leadership has become a recognized science. We understand that good leaders can become better leaders by examining their own leadership styles through different perspectives.
There are four main perspectives to consider—structural, human resource, political, and spiritual. Every time you face a leadership dilemma, filter it through these four perspectives. The structural perspective deals with policies and procedures. The human resource perspective considers the human beings of the organization. The political perspective negotiates for resources, such as power, money, and space. The spiritual perspective fuels the vision and supports the shared values of the group. Consider the following church board meeting scenario:
About a half hour into the monthly church board meeting the head elder announces that he thinks the Sabbath School leader of the primary class is teaching heresy.
The assistant primary Sabbath School leader immediately comes to the defense of her colleague. The pastor, a peace-loving man, starts looking nervously from side to side as members start whispering. If you were the Sabbath School superintendent, what would you do?
- A structural perspective. You might ask for the issue to be tabled. You can ask with confidence, because you have a clear understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order, the Church Manual policies, and the Matthew 18 principle. Well-defined organizational structure can prevent or minimize conflict.
- A human resource perspective. You would be able to support your primary Sabbath School leader because you have spent time with him or her and their team. You know what they are doing and teaching. This is an example of proactive leadership. You cannot defend something or someone you don’t know. Your tone and manner will go far in calming any fears that your primary Sabbath School leader is teaching heresy.
- A political perspective. You realize that nothing is ever what it appears to be. You understand that the head elder feels he is doing the right thing, but it may be for the wrong reason and vice versa. You use measured words and actions so as not to sound accusatory or defensive. Prior to this meeting you have taken the time to build strong relationships with members of the board. In a politically charged church, the relationship—with others and with God—is the most important leadership tool.
- A spiritual perspective. You remember that the head elder is also loved by God and that part of your mission is to mentor and nurture him or her: “For there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11). You are praying and asking God to help you—as the leader—bring the vision and purpose of the Sabbath School ministry back into “focus.” The word “perspective” can be interchanged with the word “focus.”
After the board meeting a drawing appears on the dry erase board in the room. In the middle of the drawing is a trembling little church with scared window-eyes looking upward. Surrounding the little church are crudely drawn caveman-style people, each holding a club and beating on the little church. Each club has a label: Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, Speech, Kindness, Time, Health, and Money. At one side of the drawing is a man holding an “Influence” club. He is in full swing, but he isn’t aiming for the church—his swing is horizontal. He is going to “take out” those who are using their gifts to beat up on the little church. Underneath the drawing is a caption: “See Christ’s Object Lessons, pages 325-365.”
Is it possible that leaders often wield their gift of leadership—influence—like a weapon? Inspiration tells us that real power comes from God and that “the silent witness of a true, unselfish, godly life [will carry] an almost irresistible influence” (ibid., p. 340). The next time you are in one of those challenging leadership moments, filter it through the structural, human resource, political, and spiritual perspectives. By making this your practice, you will become an irresistible leader.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists