Dean and Jackie are friends of ours studying to be pastors. Dean told us what happened at a weekend meeting of Baptist bigwigs, where they were cleaning the toilets (seriously).
The biggest problem with the way pastoring used to be taught, they were told, was that you were expected to never show weakness. They didn't hear this in a lecture; they heard it from an old man.
Have all the answers, don't ever dare to have a problem. That was the way things used to be. Or is it the way things still are?
I'm pleased to see Dean and Jackie learn that they can't have all the answers, and being a leader makes you more, not less, vulnerable. I'm learning those things myself, without the burden of a pastorate to teach me.
Pastor or managing director, the issues are the same. A recent newsletter from Australian management consultant Deborah May says it well:
"Leaders are fallible, imperfect human beings who do their best - just like every other member of the human race.
People who’ve been promoted into leadership positions are there because they’ve been assessed as having the competence to do the job required. They wouldn’t be there otherwise. But once they’ve been selected, we look for signs of super human transformation, and inevitably are disappointed.
For example, once accepted into partnership, skilled and successful lawyers are expected to suddenly know about business development, marketing, people management, economic theory, organisational behaviour – without ever having been trained in those fields.
And possibly because this is what’s expected of them, they talk as if they DO know all the answers
I wonder if unconsciously or otherwise leaders fear that to not know all the answers (even in areas they have not been trained) would be seen as weak?
Leaders must get off their pedestal - the one they’ve created for themselves or that has been built by others’ expectations.
Leaders who have the humility to accept that they don’t know all the answers provide room for the contribution of others, and space for the ideas and expertise of their people. They are more likely to engage the hearts, minds and energy of their people and collectively achieve more than they thought possible."
(Sorry about cutting and pasting the entire article, but there are no online archives available.)