Unapproachable Leadership: How do others view you?
A few weeks ago I entered into my 30's. For some of you that's old, and for others of you that's young. I haven't made up my mind yet. But one of the things I've noticed as I've gotten older is the difference in how ministers and parents approach me.
When I first started in ministry I felt that parents looked down at me because of my youth.
And I felt other ministers didn't always give me the benefit of the doubt. What this created was a passive aggressive interaction with the people I needed the most. I was often on the defense: if you didn't like my idea, I didn't like you. As I grew older, got married, and joined the ranks of parenthood, I felt my interactions with adults, both parents and other ministers, needed to improve. And, over time, they did. However, for me to solely attribute this change to the fact that I'm older, married, and a parent would be na√Øve.
The change hasn't come because of time but because of a personality makeover.
Here's a few transitions I had to undergo to make myself more approachable as a leader:
From Prideful To Humble
I used to make it all about me. Whenever someone gave feedback or shared an idea I got defensive. I thought they were telling me to change, and in my early twenties I had it all together: why would I need to change? I came to the realization that if I wanted the church to grow I can't make it about me, I have to make it about God. And the way to make it about God is to let the whole church in on the process, not just one member. Are all ideas good ones? No. But then again the great ones that my ministers have brought to the table have taken us to a new level.
From Talking To Listening
Whenever people came to me with a complaint or to vent, I thought I needed to solve the problem. But there are a lot of problems we don't need to solve but acknowledge. There have been a lot of parents and even ministers who have come to me just wanting to be heard, just wanting to know someone is out there on their side, and we need to be there to give them compassion. I'm not saying we shouldn't try and be a part of the solution where possible, but the best thing to do at many times is to listen.
From Suspicion To Trust
When I first started ministry I had this insane thought that people could read my mind. So when it came to expectations and responsibilities, communication was sometimes lacking. This lack of communication lead to disappointment and frustration. In turn, a void was created which was an open door for assumptions. If we don't communicate clearly to our ministers and parents, they will create an expectation of us. Things won't get done. People won't ask you questions because they think if they can't get it right, you'll only be mad at them. This way is not fair for others and not fair for you.
The takeaway from all of this is a simple question. We need to continuously ask ourselves, "Am I approachable"? If we can't give ourselves an honest answer we have to then ask people we trust to give us the truth. If we can't build a reputation of humility, compassion, and trust, then we really aren't leaders worth following. And the best way to work on those attributes are prayer, accountability, and constant communication.
I know there are other reasons we can be unapproachable and sometimes we need one another to bring awareness to those areas. So feel free to share those reasons below.