I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to serve in various leadership roles for nearly two decades, have read countless books, and benefited from wise mentors. Yet, each year, reveals there is still so much to learn.
Such as, being an effective leader is not a destination, but rather a journey. It’s an adventure of discovery that never ends, and there are various types of leadership opportunities we learn from. For example, I have found leading in the secular workplace doesn’t directly correlate to leading in the church, or inside the home for that matter.
However, how many times have we made that mistake? To try and implement how we lead at work in our home, or church? Doesn’t quite fit. The opposite is also true. Sometimes the way we lead at home doesn’t necessary correlate to work.
This is because leadership is fluid and situational. True, we can aspire to be servant leaders wherever we are, but let’s be honest, our families are not our employees, and neither are the people at church.
So, some recent light bulb moments for me, relating to growing as a leader, involved identifying some key differences in leading at church versus leading at work, and frankly finding my way on how to be the most effective at both.
For starters, in the corporate world there is a tendency to lean on leading through control and power. Meaning, a leader is striving to control an outcome for the business and their team. They also rely on the power entrusted to them to influence others. This power can clearly be abused by some, but it is also a subtle reminder to all that the boss does have power and this clearly has influence on behaviors.
Alternatively, although the church and family have positions of power and control, they tend to respond more to care and compassion. So, it’s not so much a matter of control, but a matter of care, and not so much a matter of power, but compassion.
When we simply offer our care and compassion to a situation and towards others, the responsiveness to the leader engaging this way is much more positive. While the tendency to control, or power over a situation often leads to stress and conflict.
Ultimately, the various leadership opportunities I both seen and experienced have demonstrated clearly to me that care and compassion is far more effective than control and power – even in the corporate environment.
What keeps care and compassion from penetrating deeper into overall leaderships patterns, I believe, is because it’s much harder, slower, and requires vulnerability. Something corporate environments in particular aren’t very patient with.
In the end, quality leadership is a matter of the heart. If we understand the power we have been entrusted with, we can be sensitive to not abusing it, but deploying it to offer more compassion – and the control we exercise can be utilized in extending more care towards people.
For power and control entrusted to those with Godly hearts is great gain (2 Samuel 23:2-4).
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the church and home are excellent tools God uses to refine His servants to be even more vulnerable and compassionate leaders, while the workplace offers excellent refining fires to lead with heart, no matter how the demands might try to harden us.