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Ten Leadership Styles That Make A Difference In Church

Ten Leadership Styles That Make A Difference In Church April 1, 2021Leave a comment
leadership styles in church

This post on leadership styles in church is part of a series of Ten Leadership Styles In Church. The other posts in the series are:

  1. Ten Leadership Styles That Make A Difference In Church
  2. Is Your Leadership Perspective Visionary or Pragmatic?
  3. Is Your Leadership Focus Relationship or Outcome?
  4. Is Your Leadership Framework Methodical or Flexible?
  5. Is Your Leadership Perception Confident or Sensitive?
  6. Is Your Leadership Engagement Action or Introspection?
  7. Discovering Your Unique Leadership Blend

If you’d prefer, you can listen to me unpack this article in my podcast – just click below!

We can all think about leadership styles in the church we’ve experienced, for better or for worse. But a key question we need to consider is ‘what is my leadership style?’ We might know. Or might think we know. Then again, we might believe we lead in a certain manner but the people we lead might have very different opinions! Overall, I think it’s a fascinating topic, and as I reflected on it, I began thinking about the people that I’ve been led by, or led alongside, throughout my life. Each leader was unique, gifted, and had clear strengths and weaknesses. But they all led differently, for better or for worse.

Identifying The Ten Leadership Styles in Church

As I followed this thought experiment, I identified ten leadership styles. They are just as applicable in the church as they are outside of it, and they are:

leadership styles

Each of the ten leadership styles are the opposite to another style. This means we can pair them together which gives us five scales. Each scale has one of the ten leadership styles at each of end of it, which you can see here.

church leadership styles

The perspective scale is a measure of how we see the world. Are we visionary, focusing on tomorrow, or are we pragmatic, focusing on today?

The focus scale measures our default priority. Are we relational, prioritising connection with people, or are we outcome-focused, focusing on completion of task?

The framework scale measures our navigation and interaction with the world. Are we methodical, valuing organisation, or are we flexible, valuing improvisation and adaptation?

The perception scale measures our response to events. Are we confident, thinking clearly and having convictions, or are we sensitive, valuing deep thinking and responsiveness?

Finally, the engagement scale measures how we are energised within the world. Are we active, energised by proactivity, and taking the initiative? Or are we introspective, preferring reflection and pondering?

What defines each leadership style?

Further research led me to conclude that each of these ten styles is made up of five drivers – strengths, motivations, and behaviour – that define, shape, and characterise it. Ten leadership styles, each with five drivers, gives us a total of fifty attributes that any one of us can be strong or weak in.

leadership strengths

For example, you can see in the above chart that visionary leaders are characterised by envisioning, innovation, intuition, exploration and imagination. This doesn’t mean they aren’t good at other things, but it does mean that to be a strong visionary leader, these five core drivers need to be strengths.

Each driver is a strength when healthily employed, but if unhealthily used – due to stress, insecurity, or overuse – can become destructive and damaging to our leadership. I call these overextended drivers dysfunctions. We think we are leading well, but our strength to serve others has become a strength that hurts others. You can see these dysfunctions here:

leadership styles

For example, you can see in the above chart that visionary leaders, when under pressure or feeling insecure, may fantasise, get distracted, self-gratify, destabilise or daydream.

So you can see that we have:

  • Ten leadership styles
  • Each leadership style is formed by five drivers, making fifty total strengths across the board.
  • Each of the fifty drivers can be used unhealthily and become a leadership dysfunction.

You Have A Leadership Leaning, Not A Church Leadership Style

No doubt as you’ve read, you’ve identified with more than one leadership style. That’s how it should be because none of us sits exclusively in one of the ten styles. You might have a dominant or primary visionary leadership style, for example. But equally, you’ll have other styles that are secondary or minor influences on your overall approach – relationship, for example. It’s there, but less so when compared to another. This means that rather than just having one leadership style, we lead in the church through a combination of the ten leadership styles I’ve identified. We all have a unique mix of these leadership styles, with varying strengths, and I call this blend of ten styles our leadership leaning. If we discover our propensity and ‘leaning’ in different leadership styles, we can form a picture of our strengths and weaknesses.

Our leadership leaning is a combination of our placement on each of the five leadership scales:

church leadership styles

On each scale, we will fall somewhere. Take the Perspective scale at the top of the above diagram. We may have a strong leaning on the visionary end, for example, or a slight leaning. Or we may be strong pragmatically or have a slight leaning that way. Or we could be balanced, being in or around the middle of the scale.

Repeat this with the remaining four scales, and you have a comprehensive picture of your leadership leaning. We can see:

  • Your placement on the five scales reveals aspects of your approach and leadership style.
  • The intensity of your leadership leanings on each scale shows you something – whether you are strong, slight or balanced in your approach.
  • The interaction between your leadership styles is also revealing. Being visionary and relational is very different, for example, than being visionary and outcome-focused.

The findings of these three things tells us your leadership leaning, of which there are thirty-two. For example, a pragmatic, relational, flexible, sensitive and active person has the Connector leadership leaning:

leadership assessment

Each leadership leaning has it’s own unique wiring and strengths. You can see in the below chart that the Connector leaning is both a relator and a pioneer. There is a lot more to it than that, but also in the chart you can also see all thirty-two leanings alongside the Connector:

leadership style in church

Each of these leadership leanings is unique in its skillset, strengths, weaknesses and approaches. So I developed a tool that will help leaders discover:

  • Their unique blend of the the ten leadership styles
  • Strengths they possess will contribute to their leadership mix
  • Potential dysfunctions impacting their ministry
  • Practical applications and insights for their style
  • What their unique leadership leaning is

Romans 12:8 tells us that those with the gift of leadership should lead with zeal. The Greek word here carries a sense of urgency or wholeheartedness. Biblically, we are called to lead in all our fullness! Knowing our natural leadership leaning is the first step in this. The second step is then developing and cultivating our gifting, skill, and knowledge. This where our drivers come in. Understanding what we do well – our competencies, abilities, and strengths – will help us lead more effectively. Leadership Leanings allows you to review each of the fifty drivers that make up the church leadership styles to highlight what you are specifically good at – and equally, what you are not so good at!

This post on leadership styles in church is part of a series of Ten Leadership Styles In Church. The other posts in the series are:

  1. Ten Leadership Styles That Make A Difference In Church
  2. Is Your Leadership Perspective Visionary or Pragmatic?
  3. Is Your Leadership Focus Relationship or Outcome?
  4. Is Your Leadership Framework Methodical or Flexible?
  5. Is Your Leadership Perception Confident or Sensitive?
  6. Is Your Leadership Engagement Action or Introspection?
  7. Discovering Your Unique Leadership Blend

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