Component #1 – Connect relationally with those you are developing
After being together for nearly three years Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “I no longer call you servants because a servant doesn’t know his masters business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from the Father I have made known to you.” Jesus built a long term friendship with the men he was training.
As leaders we are typically impatient and one of the greatest enemies of quality leadership development is impatience. We want leaders NOW and we want to train them FAST. But potential leaders need someone who is committed to taking the time to walk with them, to get to know their strengths and weaknesses. They need someone who will observe them and give them encouragment as well as constructive feedback. Our development efforts will be much more effective if we can build a culture where current leaders make patient investments in potential leaders.
I learned the value of relational development when I interviewed at Pawleys Island Baptist Church for my first ministry position. After spending 45 minutes asking me a series of questions Bob Barrows, the senior pastor, paused and said, “Do you play racquetball?” I thought that was a strange interview question, but told him I did play. So he invited me to join him the following Tuesday at the local gym. We had some great conversation that day and when we finished he said, “What are you doing next Tuesday?” I told him I since I didn’t have a job yet my schedule was pretty flexible. So he said, “Why don’t you come up and let’s play some more racquetball.” So the next Tuesday we played several rounds, had some great conversation and went for lunch. Before I left he said, “What are you doing on Thursday?” I said, “Well I imagine I am playing racquetball with you!” We played racquetball three times before he offered me a job. He spent so much time on the front end connecting with me personally that it made me eager to learn everything I could from this seasoned leader. From the beginning I knew he cared for me as a person.
To have the greatest impact leadership development must be relational. This is why we use a mentor based leadership development strategy, asking our current leaders to invest in the lives of potential leaders. It may take more time but it pays off in the long run.
Who is the potential leader you’re developing? Do you need to increase your relational investment?