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  • Writer's pictureJim Gettel

Grounding Leadership: Functioning together as a Leadership Team

Grounding Leadership: Functioning together as a Leadership Team | Where Jesus Leads

1. Staying in emotional contact with one another: In your relationships with one another as leaders, in what ways are you nurturing emotional contact and strengthening your relationships with one another?

Some approaches for strengthening relationships

  • Lots of communication and sharing with each other, mostly face to face or by phone.

  • Asking one another, “What are you going through?” Responding pastorally.

  • Praying together – Invite God into the conversation; ask one another, “What do we need to pray about?” or “How would you like me to hold you in prayer?”

  • Are you maintaining good boundaries for every communication?

  • Are you spending more time on decisions to try to reach consensus?

  • Strengthen relationships amongst yourselves. Be curious. Asking clarifying questions. Go the next step.

2. Defining self: In what ways are you developing a vision of what needs to be accomplished to support the development process and that inspires our leadership and the congregation?

Some approaches for defining self

  • Sharing your beliefs and visions about what can help this community support love, unity and peace.

  • In what ways have you reminded yourselves of the mission of reconciliation?

    • The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. . . . The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church. (Book of Common Prayer, 855)

  • Are you all of one mind (consensus about common directions)?

    • Everyone desires the best for everyone in the congregation? And for the congregation as a whole?

    • For example, we don’t know what it will look like, but everyone is committed to full reconciliation among the willing?

3. Managing reactivity: In what ways are you are you responding non-anxiously to the leadership choices that confront you?

Some approaches for managing reactivity

  • Consider: What is the pattern of urgency in your leadership decisions?

    • The leadership team does not need to act on every problem or situation right now.

    • How could you add patience and prayer into your decisions?

    • Are you seeking the advice of the experts you have now about what needs to be acted on?

  • Do you practice “both/and” thinking?

    • Recognizing that more than one reality or perspective can be true at the same time.

    • Rather than seeing reality as strictly “either/or”, right or wrong, good or bad, this or that, is very helpful.

  • What percentage of time do you spend helping things go right in these relationships, and what percentage of time do you spend dealing with things that are going wrong? (see The Anatomy of Peace)

  • How careful are you with your language?

    • Inflammatory examples from other churches: “…to relieve N. of her duties is so unchristian like and almost like terrorist activity,” and “N. has taken this church hostage…”

    • Universalizing and hyperbole.

  • Are you avoiding triangulating?

    • When you are irritated with one another, do you directly and lovingly confront one another (in the ways Jesus describes in Matthew 18)?

    • Are you careful to try to reach consensus and avoid enlisting allies in your “cause”?

Matthew 18:15-22

Jesus said, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

4. Maintaining boundaries: In what ways are you focusing on your part of supporting and leading the community and avoiding actions that may undermine it?

Some approaches for maintaining boundaries

  • Some issues are not those of the Leadership team.

  • What is our work as a Leadership team?

5. Personal functioning: What work can each of you do personally in these areas for the Leadership team to function in these ways? What do you want to change about yourself?

Some approaches for personal functioning

  • Focus on self, not others.

  • Stay in close relationship with God.

  • Contemplate how you are personally doing with staying in emotional contact with others, defining yourself, managing your own reactivity, and maintaining healthy boundaries.

  • Cultivate a “heart at peace” as discussed below.

Becoming Peacemakers – Leading the community

6. Seeing each one as a person: During these controversies, when have you seen others as objects and when have you seen others as people? For someone that you see as an object, what needs might they have that you have been failing to see? What good qualities might you be ignoring?

Some approaches for seeing each one as a person

  • Be accepting of differences. Consider the needs, perspectives, personal style and reactions to stress of the other person. Respond pastorally.

  • If we are seeing others as objects, what symptoms do we have of being in a box (i.e., blaming, exaggeration of values, defensiveness, justification, victimization, horribilizing, self-focus, obsession with being right, and any others that come to mind)? How might be helpful to be on the lookout for these symptoms within us?

  • How can we find out-of-the-box space?

  • Why is “way of being” so crucial to our success or failure in relationships and reconciliation?

7. Inviting others to be open to and participate in the process of reconciliation: When is it OK to try to help others change? What is the distinction between making others change and inviting them to change?

Some approaches for inviting and guiding change

  • Help build confidence that positive changes will occur.

    • Design meetings for conversation, prayer, reconciliation and healing.

  • Help concerned members avoid becoming overstressed.

    • Reduce people’s stress by listening carefully to their concerns.

    • Honestly discuss the changes people are experiencing, especially their personal feelings about them.

    • Be sure people know they are heard—but also be sure people understand that being heard does not mean they must have their own way.

  • Apply the “pyramid of influence” in our interactions with other leaders and members to support the person

    • Begin with a heart at peace.

    • Build relationships.

    • Listen and learn about the person’s world.

    • Teach and communicate.

  • Prevent dependent or recalcitrant members from undercutting the community’s vision and strategies.

    • Model and discuss how we need to treat one another during this process.

    • Encourage the person to fully participate in the process.

    • Allow the stressed person to find a different setting where (s)he feels more safe.

8. Over-communicating: How are you communicating in non-reactive, non-anxious ways with the congregation? Are communications open and honest? Are communications frequent, encouraging and positive?

Some approaches for effective communications

  • Continually and regularly raise awareness of the process and what is happening

  • Reassure members that changes are necessary and will pay off in the long run

  • Talk comfortably and often about the significant role Jesus (not us!) is playing

9. Becoming a trusted leadership team: In what ways are you becoming a trusted leadership team?

Some approaches for becoming a trusted leadership team

  • Recognize the immediate need for trusted leaders in this community

    • Most resistance to change/acting out is rooted in fear and/or need for control.

    • People will follow those they trust: God/Jesus/Spirit, leaders (clergy and lay), ministry teams, themselves.

  • Develop a leadership group that is non-anxious, God-differentiated (vs. self-differentiated), confident, purposeful, and concerted.

  • Leaders need to set the pace and tone: enthusiasm and commitment is contagious.

  • Leaders need to treat this as a learning process.

    • Productive confrontations help leaders take time for conversation, prayer, reflection and discernment, and they reveal broader or deeper perspectives.

    • Encourage, facilitate, and mediate confrontations that may help the community make better, positive decisions about questions that do not have clear answers and solutions.

      • See Leadership Without Easy Answers. Steps to successful adaptive confrontations are (1) identify the adaptive challenge; (2) keep the distress within a tolerable range; (3) focus attention on ripening issues and not on stress-reducing distractions, (4) give the work back to people, but at a rate they can stand, and (5) protect voices of leadership without authority.

    • Avoiding loving confrontations undermines change by harming relationships, preventing reconciliation and closing off the productive learning that differences in perspective may spur.

      • We need to encourage confrontation to have the community question its attitudes, actions, behavior, or beliefs. At the same time, we need to manage people’s passionate differences in a way that diminishes their destructive potential and constructively harnesses their energy. First, create a secure place where the conflicts can freely bubble up. Second, control the temperature to ensure that the conflict doesn’t boil over—and burn you in the process. Third, make sure that the leader does not come up with an answer or solution on the leader’s own, but encourages the confrontation. Beware that identifying or raising issues that everyone else is avoiding puts the leader in the position of having anger and resentment surrounding the issue directed towards him or her.

    • There are real benefits to working through disagreements over values, goals, or methods if they are relevant to the mission of the community or the challenges the community is adapting to.

10. Taking action: From the possibilities discussed, what actions will you choose to take to help to support and lead the community to a positive culture? What additional help might you need or want?


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