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Clergy Leadership Challenges
with Hugh Ballou
In this short “T-Talk” (Transformation Talk) in the faith leader empowerment series, Hugh Ballou addresses the 5 top leadership challenges for clergy and all faith leaders:
- Conflict Management
- Clarity of Vision
- Over Functioning
- Emotional Control
Hugh Ballou works with visionary leaders and their teams to develop a purpose-driven high-performance culture that significantly increases productivity, profits, and job satisfaction. through dramatically decreasing confusion, conflicts, and under-functioning. With 40 years as musical conductor, Ballou uses the leadership skills utilized daily by the conductor in teaching relevant leadership skills creating a culture that responds to the nuances of the leader as a skilled orchestra responds to the musical director while allowing each person to excel in their personal discipline while empowering the culture as a whole.
In his work with Social Entrepreneurs and corporate executives for 32+ years applying his unique transformational leadership concepts, he has developed comprehensive systems and strategies for empowering leadership leading social change His books, e-Books, online programs and live presentations have impact on leaders worldwide with his unique and proprietary leadership methodology that integrates strategy with performance unlike the traditional consultant model.
Register for the Faith Leader Empowerment Series at http://iRecharge.live
Read the Transcript
Hugh Ballou: Hello, this is Hugh Ballou, president and founder of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. Today, it’s me, and it’s a special session that goes into a larger session. We started Clergy & Faith Leader Empowerment, a clergy leadership intensive. It’s a journey we’re on; the journey is continuing every week with a new session. My session is the first one. We’ve had a webinar. Go to iRecharge.Live. Find the replay there. This is one of the follow-up sessions from ten presenters, including me, with a specific message over the next few weeks, culminating in a leadership symposium specifically for faith leaders on January 25, 2022.
There are five segments I want to talk about today. This is the kickoff for this series with nine other clergy presenters. Each one has a unique message to empower, to encourage, to regenerate, to refresh. Some are experiential. Some are how-to. Some are stories. Mine is a perspective: How do we lead in strange times, uncommon times, unusual times?
It’s a time in history where clergy especially are the first responders to people in need, not necessarily people who have been damaged and need hospitalization, but maybe we have been damaged in terms of our faith, our emotions, or other aspects of us being spiritual beings.
Let me highlight five areas. This is not exclusively everything. It’s a 20-minute overview of five things for you to think about. The five areas are self-management, conflict management, clarity of vision, overfunctioning, and emotional control. Overfunctioning and emotional control are part of self-management. I have separated these because they are big enough issues that we need to address them individually.
Let’s start with self-management. SynerVision transforms leaders, transforming organizations, transforming lives. As faith leaders, we are in the business of transformation. It’s a journey of spiritual development. We must manage ourselves and be aware of how we impact others. We sometimes show up as a representative of God because of our position.
Rethink leading from a position of power to leading from a position of influence. Leaders are in fact influencers. If we are leading worship, we are leading a study group, we are leading a service project, a ministry project, we are leading people in the faith community, we are not telling people what to do. We are opening up discovery, acquainting people with the paradigms of our faith that will shape the spiritual journey of everybody in the room, including us, the leader. I am teaching a college course currently, and I am learning as much as anybody in the room, and I am teaching leadership as it pertains to organizational change.
There are aspects of being aware of how we come across. Communication is not just the words. That’s 7%. How do we come across? Are we managing that?
Are we managing our use of resources, including time? We have so much time in the day. Have we planned our day? You start today with the plan you developed yesterday, not today. At the end of the day, look at the specific opportunities and objectives for the next day. Define what they are. Go back and refine it. Usually, I have to cut mine in half to make it doable because I am too bold. If you can’t finish them, don’t write them down. Think about how much activity is going to take. Sequence this in your day.
We put down the now. I have to have this call, this meeting. What about between this now and the next now? We need time to take notes from that meeting. We need time to transition. We need personal time. We put the now. We put down the between now. Time management is a function of us thinking about priorities and putting them in sequence. We can’t manage time. We manage our use of available resources, including time.
Health. People tell me in any segment, “I work 15-hour days. I work seven days a week. I haven’t had a vacation in years.” Wait a minute. Take time for yourself on that calendar. Think about what your personal time is. Write in “personal time.” Time to think, time to refine, time to evaluate. Spiritual, mental, physical, we need to take care of the whole person. Resting, playing. Managing time is a part of health.
Really solid nutrition. Find a good nutritional plan from a nutritionist. An MD takes care of your medicines, and there is a nutritionist. Not the same data, not the same skillset, not the same information and methodology. It’s better to stay healthy than to try to cure something.
Personal growth. What are you doing every week to read something, learn something, grow your ability every week?
The category of self-management is a lot more than that, but how do we manage the use of resources? Have we taken care of ourselves? Do we show up fully prepared, regenerated, refreshed, and not driven but called to service?
Conflict management. As a sector, clergy especially avoid conflict. I have seen it for the 32 years I have been working as an external presence and 40 years inside of small to mega churches. Managing conflict. Conflict is the sign of energy. We confront it, means with your front. Confront is not negative. It’s move toward conflict.
Speak to what the facts are. Address it calmly, directly, with a personal eye contact engagement, and without the words “you.” “You” triggers a defensive mechanism, a defensive response. Somebody is doing something that is not acceptable. “Hey there, I understood we agreed on this. That hasn’t happened. How do we make a correction? How can we fix this? How can we adjust to what we have agreed to?” Be direct. Speak to the facts. Stay calm. If we are anxious, it’s contagious, so stay calm.
Conflict might be something that we as a leader have set up. We weren’t very clear on what we asked people to do. We weren’t very clear on how to manage the results. We didn’t check for understanding that the person doing the work understands the arrival point. It’s not conflict if they do it their way as long as they get to the arrival point with specific results that have been defined. It’s performance expectations. We set up problems if we have not clearly defined the results.
If you are working with volunteers, it’s time to check in between now and the deadline. Every week, every other week, whatever needs to be in order to reach that goal. How far apart is that arrival point? Checking in is certainly helpful.
The whole area of conflict management is deal with it now because it’s not going away. Something very small grows and grows and grows. Then it’s really going to cause damage in the organization, in relationships, in results. Maybe lost members. Deal with it now. Speak the facts. Speak directly. Speak the truth and love. Don’t talk all the time. Listen. Maybe there was a different understanding. “I understood this. Is that the same?”
Clarity of vision. It’s very clear that the leader shapes the vision for the organization. It’s not a committee process. Here’s the vision. I’m a Christian. In the Christian Bible, there is no place where God gave vision to a committee. We have been charged with the vision. It doesn’t mean we do all of the tactical part. We are the visionary, and we engage people. The more we do, the less they are able to do, and we are robbing them of implementing something that satisfies their passion for service.
What is the vision for the organization you lead? Christian church, the vision is to preach the gospel. The mission, how do we do that? When you see somebody on the street, and they say, “What do you do in the organization?” you should be able to express that in one sentence. A very clear concept. Then the mission, they say, “How do you do that?” That’s the application. Concept, application.
Here is a big mistake. Really smart people, really good theologians, really good Bible scholars, really good preachers are not necessarily skilled in creating goals and strategies. Therefore, substituting the Great Commission of making disciples sometimes is misconceived as the mission of the church. No, that’s the Great Commission in Christian literature. May be different in Judaism and Islam. What is the mission? That’s not a mission. It’s a commission; it’s not a choice. The mission is the choice of what you do. If your Great Commission as a Christian is making disciples, then what do we do? We equip disciples for Christian service. We equip members for serving those in need. You see the pattern there?
The vision is an institution that stands for a faith principle. The mission is we equip disciples for service by worship, Bible study, group interactions, service projects, inside and outside of our community. We serve others. That way, our ministry goes outside the four walls of our organization.
The clarity of vision, it’s clear. We own it. Everybody understands it. Then we can do a program of work called goals. Then each committee, each person knows where to plug in. You start with a vision. You identify your objectives and short-term goals. Where are we going to be at this point? It’s a very clear statement of what you stand for and what you do.
If you search for church, mosque, synagogue, community organization, vision and mission statements, you will get an idea. You will find some that are not quite up to snuff, but it’s very clear on what we do. This is the vision. This is how we do it.
We as leaders need to be very good at communicating that with passion so people can say, “I get it. I want to help. Here is my role.” We manage self. We manage conflict. We set up clarity. If we don’t set up clarity, we are setting up conflict. What you thought you said isn’t what they thought they heard. We weren’t clear, so they made up what was missing. We get upset when they do something different than what was in our brain. We didn’t communicate.
This is a big one I see in any sector with any kind of leader in any sized organization. It really compounds in larger organizations. It’s called overfunctioning. We do things that other people could do. Yes, we do them. We think we are being nice. We think we are being helpful. Really, we are robbing a member of an opportunity for service. They are there to act through their passion to serve. We are doing it for them. They don’t want us to do it for them. Therefore, we irritate them, and we wonder why they don’t show up. We wonder why they don’t volunteer. We wonder when we have told people what to do.
One big example is I visit worship services. It says in the order of service, “Please stand for Hymn 101.” Sometimes on a screen, it says, “Please stand, Hymn 101.” The worship leader gets up and says, “Please stand, if able, and turn to Hymn 101,” and names it. I feel like they’re treating me like an idiot, that I can’t read. Plus they are overfunctioning and are going to complain that nobody volunteers, that nobody takes initiative. We have taught them that I am going to tell you everything to do. It’s subtle, but we have taught them not to do anything until I tell you. We have created dependency by overfunctioning for people.
The reciprocity to overfunctioning is underfunctioning. In faith organizations, we come together. We come together to worship. We come together for our faith experience. This is where we unify the body of faith, the body of the organization. If we are not unified there, then we can’t go out into our programs, and we can’t serve in the community. We must come together and be unified in our teaching, in our faith, in our journey. Then we go out and do.
An hour on Sunday in my tradition does not transform anybody. It charges us, it refreshes us, it clarifies and unites us. Then we are equipped to serve. There needs to be things between this event and next week where we get to move forward with what we’ve learned, what we have been inspired to be. That is the central point of gathering. It’s not a miracle time. It is time that really helps empower us to work as a unified community.
Self-management, conflict management, being clear on what we have asked people to do, and overfunctioning. No, we have learned how to delegate. “George, Sally, Sarah Jane, I know you’re really good at this. Here is an important thing you can do for our organization. Here is what I need. Here is what the results look like. Would you agree to do this? Let’s sit down and define the steps. You tell me what you think are the steps to go forward.” You work with them and agree on it. You have a pathway forward that they have helped define. Because you have selected somebody that is skilled, they might know the steps. You might only have to make a couple of adjustments.
You agree on the process, the timeline. “Let’s touch base next week and see if you need anything from me.” Transformational leaders build leaders, equip leaders, provide information, provide support, provide encouragement. We check in, and we stay out of the way. We get out of the way. We don’t delegate and forget, but we don’t delegate and micromanage. There might be some mentoring. We might have more subject matter expertise than we do; that’s mentoring. Provide the information. Let them do it in their way as long as they get to the agreed-upon results.
To make sure, you will ask them to write down the steps and give it to you. That way, they have committed to it by writing it down. Also, you know they understand it because they have written it. We haven’t forgotten the steps.
Keep in mind that typically, people remember 10% of what they hear. 20% of what they see. If you combine them, I hear it, I write it, 65-70%. If there is a kinesthetic action piece, that raises the bar. Some things don’t have that. Seeing and hearing together raises the retention, understanding, and likelihood they will actually be successful in implementing this.
The fifth one is controlling our emotions. There are people who lose their temper because they are wanting to control others. They have never learned to control their own emotions. When we let emotion flood our brain, we no longer are able to make thinking decisions. It’s not how you feel. Feeling informs your thinking. What are you going to think about and do? Worrying about somebody, having empathy for somebody is okay. But get out of it.
We want to show people that we care by making principle-based decisions. We control ourselves by saying we are going to stay calm. We are going to address the facts. We are going to move forward. Speak the truth and love.
When somebody doesn’t understand and we have to make course corrections, we are not insulting them. We are helping them perform. We set that paradigm at the beginning. “Here is the pathway. Here is what I’m asking you to do. By the way, from time to time, I want to check in, and we can make some adjustments together. Is that okay? We are working on this together, and we will need to help each other out. I will help you by mentoring you on some of the steps.” It’s your vision, remember. Stay calm. Move toward conflict. Manage your own anxiety because that is highly contagious. Those are very simplified steps. This is a process of discovery.
You will have nine speakers coming weekly. If you are in this space, iRecharge.Live, we will get you to register. You can see the 90-minute webinar, which was really amazing. Then you will be notified when the other speakers release a 20-minute transformation talk. We’re here to support you. Let us hear from you. If you are in the space, you’ll know how to respond to us. Sign up. If you don’t want to be on the list, unsubscribe. It is free, so you might as well take advantage of it.
This is Hugh Ballou. Thank you for being here today. thank you for caring and serving.