in this series of posts (part 1, overview; part 2, competency facilitator; part 3, culture evangelist; part 4, mission curator, part 5, storytelling host, part 6, champion of hope) i’m ruminating on the suggestion that leadership in the church needs to move away from the traditional notions of hierarchical power we’ve embraced for so long. and i’m unpacking 9 new metaphors for “powerless leadership”. here is metaphor #6:
powerless leadership metaphor #2 was “competency facilitator”. that metaphor plays out mostly at an individual level — identifying and facilitating competencies in individual people (particularly in other leaders, i would suggest). the ‘uniqueness dj’ idea works in partnership with that skill to mix a team’s uniquenesses into a cohesive whole.
the uniqueness dj is not into pigeon-holing people based on pre-determined roles.
the uniqueness dj does not leverage traditional hierarchical power to assign people.
the uniqueness dj abhors vanilla, and loves to create new mixes of surprisingly complementary flavors.
wearing this hat (probably a cool porkpie, btw), this kind of leader allows for — celebrates, even — the one-of-a-kind gifting, experience and personality of each person on the team, and looks for ways to connect them to the shared values.
here’s a practical example: for years, in youth ministry, i utilized a highly articulated ‘job description’ for volunteers. the thinking was (and i had been taught this, and subsequently taught this myself in many seminars) that youth ministry volunteers would flourish is they knew what was expected. i read that sentence now, and i think, what a dehumanizing approach to people. i would approach this very differently today. after the shared values of the ministry are discerned and articulated, i would work with each volunteer, based on his or her strengths, interests, experiences and competencies, to help him or her develop a unique plan for embodying our values in the context of their youth ministry calling. and, i would be intentional about how these unique works of art, made in the image of god, can experience something greater than themselves by bringing their uniqueness to the whole.
this kind of ‘mixing’ isn’t a blender approach, creating a mushy paste of liquified banality. instead, it’s a skill more akin to a ben and jerry’s flavor creator. or, a super-fresh mash-up of disparate musical pieces overlaid on the beats of shared values.