Identifying and Equipping Leaders

This edition of Mentor Online is original material by Rev. George Brookover.

A Developmental Task of the reframing process for a local congregation is to identify and equip leaders for a renewed identity. Before that task can be effectively accomplished in the congregation assessment of several elements of leadership is essential.

There are three basic ways that individuals relate to systems like congregations: affiliation, achievement, and oversight.

Affiliators – persons in this largest grouping of participants in voluntary organizations are energized by the presence of people. The important outcome for them is the socialization that occurs in gathering with other individuals. If a product or service is also developed or delivered it is weighed as an added benefit or outcome rather than being the most important aspect of participation. These individuals are typically unconcerned with who gets the credit for a success and are disappointed with failures but can report how much fun they had working with others on the task.

Achievers – persons in this significant grouping are motivated by what they can accomplish by being a participant in an organization. They are willing and able to work with others in the system but for them results are measured by tasks undertaken and completed rather than by the amount of fellowship that occurred. Individuals in this category can be assigned a task that is solitary in nature and still be energized by the experience.

Organizers – persons in this smallest grouping in systems are those who are energized by getting a project organized around goals and objectives and meeting the targets of time, date and expected results. These individuals are the most effective when they can release the duties and responsibilities to the achievers who in turn rally and coordinate the affiliators. The persons in this third grouping are the least helpful to congregational and other voluntary organizations when they are unwilling or unable to relinquish the control or acclaim that are associated with completed projects or successful events.

The professional and elected leaders in a congregational system are encouraged to use extreme caution in recruiting, equipping and releasing volunteers in the parish culture. A matter of wisdom would be to be brave enough to inquire for a response from all volunteers (especially those new to the system!) into two matters of the nature of volunteerism: 1.) “What fuels or energizes you as a volunteer?” and 2.) “Do you prefer to work with others or alone?” An additional interrogation could be centered in “What is more important to you in your volunteering…a. meeting and working with others or, b. meeting deadlines and established goals?”

The affiliators that get energized by the fellowship aspects of systems are at times in charge of voluntary systems. And they disappoint or discourage the achievers and organizers. At other times the achievers or organizers manage or coordinate voluntary organizations and can overwhelm the affiliators with details. Or they get discouraged because the corps of volunteers is not as serious about outcomes as they appear to be about the community building nature of getting together.

Voluntary systems need to conduct a volunteer “audit” on a regular basis to assess how its system is working and how best to coordinate volunteerism to reflect both the needs of those working and the goals to be accomplished. Analysis can assist the congregation to do a better job of matching volunteers with what energizes them rather than only looking at the tasks that need to be completed.

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Retired Lutheran (ELCA) clergyperson. Founder & owner of Brookover Leadership Development & Consulting, Inc. (1967)

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