It would be hard for anyone to contradict that the culture around us is changing. In fact, God created us all as beings of constant change. Every living thing that God created, He built for continuous change. As leaders in our family, business, or ministry, things around us are changing and our leadership should also see changes. These changes should always be for self-improvement. Parenting looks different with preschoolers than teenagers. Regardless of where you lead, your leadership at year 30 should look different than year one.
At various times in your career, be it business or ministry, to be the leader you need to be, you must unlearn some behaviors, styles, or mannerisms. Some of these changes will come due to cultural changes. As a pastor, each church you lead will have a differing character and qualities. It is wise to understand that to be a great leader requires adapting your leadership to those you lead and not necessarily the opposite.
I’m not suggesting you unlearn everything about leadership. Rather, adapt your leadership qualities to the new culture around you. A grade school teacher who later becomes a high school principal leads differently. The way she speaks to her students and charges will change. An inner-city pastor who moves to pastor a small church in a slower paced rural community must adjust his leadership to the pace and culture. He must unlearn some of the pace-setting habits, and peculiarities of the inner-city.
Just as a leader of a small company moves to the CEO position of a large corporation, his/her leadership has grown and changed so is the leadership change of a pastor who began his ministry in a small church and later moves to pastor a large megachurch. Both the CEO and pastor must unlearn some habits and relearn others to be better leaders of the larger organization. One of these is unlearning management and oversight and learning the art of proper delegation and release.
These are cultural diversities that require needed change and growth in leadership. Other reasons that will cause you as a leader to unlearn some leader traits will be habits you’ve adopted. Some may be bad habits. I’ve known of leaders with military backgrounds who later held positions in usually smaller organizations and only knew to bark orders like a drill sergeant. Morale was always low, and motivation was non-existent.
As our tenure in leadership progresses, so should our ability, including unlearning habits and character traits that bring unhealthy results to our organization and the people we lead. Unlearning for greater leading demonstrates growth in our leadership abilities. What can you do this week to improve your leadership abilities?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.