Each leader has their own tendencies, idiosyncrasies, and expectations. One of my leaders hated popcorn, so, of course, at Christmas I gave him a metal bin of popcorn. Thom Rainer finds the word “interesting” obligatory, so I often find myself trying to find another word.
When you are not the leader, you must know your leader. In many ways it is like marriage. The more you communicate and seek to understand, the stronger the relationship will become. As your leader feels heard, he or she will be more open to feedback. When your leader sees action, you are increasing the trust between the two of you.
Here are four easy questions you can ask yourself about your leader. In most cases these are questions you can ask your leader directly (just add “Is my leader a” to the beginning of every prompt below).
Introvert or Extrovert? People often mistake this question with someone’s ability to interact with people. Both Thom and I are introverts, and both of us can interact with people. But people drain us, and we work more effectively on tasks alone. Leaders who are extroverts are energized by conversation and enjoy a collaborative process to get work done. One way this impacts work is that I try to schedule short meetings. My emails to him are task-oriented and clear.
Micro-manager or Macro-manager? Micro-managers need to know the details and need to know tasks 1 to 100 have been completed in any given project. Macro leaders want to guide the process and delegate the details to their team. I am a macro-manager, but I have to know the details. As I translate them to Thom, I have to simplify information so he can quickly understand and make decisions. I am expected to know the details if he wants to ask further questions.
Visionary or Executive? Visionary leaders see a preferred future based on problems they discern or felt needs. Executives see problems based on a previously stated vision. An executive seeks to connect new methods and make mission statements relevant. Thom is a visionary leader wanting to provide a way forward. He gets excited about new opportunities. My role is more of an executive.
Teacher or Coach? Leaders who are teachers have proven methods they want to pass along. A coach’s role is to place you in the right spot on the team and give feedback on performance.
While every leader has a bent or default, it is important to note that every leader must be able to recognize and adapt to the needs of their team and the situation. Your effectiveness will increase as you get to know who is leading you better. It is vital to the health of your church or organization to know your leader when you aren’t the leader.