Day three of Inter-America’s Segment Leadership Development (SeLD) Conference gathered more than 3,300 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s organizational administrators, pastors, and local church elders to focus on being the kind of Christian leaders that will impact organizations and employees effectively, especially during times of uncertainty as they grow their leadership capacity across the territory.
“Leadership is not so much the exercise of power as the empowerment of others,” said Pastor Lowell Cooper, former vice president of the Adventist world church, as he highlighted the impact of micromanaging and its effects on people and organizations.
Micromanaging and its effects
Unfortunately, micromanaging occurs within a structured relationship, with one person who has a degree of authority over another or others, explained Cooper. But Cooper encouraged leaders to emulate how Jesus served when he was on earth.
“Christ-like leadership is exercising power and authority for the good of others,” he said. It’s not that leaders abandon the use of authority but exert their power under the constraint of sacrificially living for the good of others.
Cooper reminded leaders of what micromanagement is and what it is not. He encouraged leaders to shy away from confusing leadership with micromanagement. “Micromanaging is a term that describes a management style characterized by excessive involvement which borders on interference in the work of subordinates, with unnecessary levels of detail, and dictates the job be done in a certain way.
There are long-term effects of micromanaging among people and the organization, he pointed out, and more so the tendency maybe since the COVID-19 has presented many challenges that could lead to micromanagement. Micromanaging can produce inefficiency for people to do their job, a loss of creativity due to employee disengagement, drops in productivity, higher employee turnover, and more.
“Any crisis situation should increase collaboration, openness to creativity, and willingness to learn new ways of doing different things,” said Cooper.
Leaders need to manage their emotions, anticipate needs, build trust, dialogue to verbalize expectations, and spend time in serious self-reflection in leadership in order to steer away from micromanaging, he said.
“Seek feedback from others you supervise; delegate; encourage an environment of innovation; and express appreciation,” said Cooper, as he emphasized for leaders to improve the practices of Christian leadership while eliminating the practices of micromanaging the workplace.
“Enrich your spiritual life, your relationship with co-workers, and your experience with Jesus,” Cooper concluded.
Navigating through uncertain times
Church leaders were reminded to cast off all their fears when facing the unknown, just like Jesus promised in Matthew 6:25-34.
“Don’t worry; plan,” said Pastor Balvin Braham, assistant to the IAD president in charge of leadership development. “We must seek the Lord and take actions in order to be able to effectively navigate our way through the issues that we have to face in life.”
Braham spoke in the context of planning in uncertainty and reminded leaders to know the difference between crisis management and providing leadership in a crisis.
“We are not able to go back to the church in the way that we used to. We face declining income,” said Braham. “Now is the opportunity to plan as a way forward, meaning studying the future and drawing up a plan of action. Ask challenging questions, consider past history, identify trends in the specific area of uncertainty, and develop different options before making decisions.”
One of the important traits a leader should have is to be able to communicate with their colleagues and everyone in their team, he said., “Everyone should know what is going on as we develop our strategies as to where we want to go as the desired future.”
Follow by implementing the actions, evaluating, and taking whatever measures or corrective actions focus on the goal, explained Braham.
Prayer, meditation, faith, and study of God’s word are primary in leadership, added Braham. “Faith-based leaders must consult with God, and remember that the organization is not yours but his. God is in charge, but he wants us to be prudent managers.”
Growing leadership capacity
Ella Simmons, general vice president of the Adventist world church, addressed the SeLD delegation, reminding them that leaders are people who see opportunities and seize them.
“Leaders exercise good judgment and take wise risks,” she said. “They create a culture that allows others to experience satisfaction and growth that results in organizational effectiveness, conveying a sense of commitment that compels others to follow,” she said.
Sometimes crisis makes a leader, said Simmons, but it’s important that the leaders know their strengths, gifts, and talents, to better align with positions that fit their strengths for themselves or others they manage.
She pointed to the type of leaders that God seeks, as found in Principles for Christian Leaders by Ellen G. White.
“Leaders who are born again, influenced by Christ, consecrated to Christ, controlled by the Holy Spirit, are humble and teachable, kind, selfless, tender in word and action, collaborative, and more,'' she said. Simmons also bid leaders not to forget to guard against leadership pitfalls like pride, immorality, cynicism, greed, administrative carelessness, and the like.
It’s important that emotional intelligence is required of every leader, with the personal self-awareness, self-management, social relationship awareness, and social management that it
entails, Simmons said.
Strengthening emotional and spiritual intelligence
Simmons highlighted four strategies for working on strengthening emotional intelligence: getting feedback while recognizing and staying cognizant of behaviors at the moment; learning not to underestimate the negative impact words and actions can have on others; making deliberate choices about how to respond to situations rather than having knee-jerk reactions; and learning to put themselves in other people’s shoes to develop empathy.
In the same way, Simmons shared 12 principles of understanding spiritual intelligence, including living a valued-led life, being compassionate toward others, celebrating diversity, being humble, knowing your calling, and more.
“Learn to forget about the mistakes, but remember the lessons learned from mistakes and continue to grow in Christ,” said Simmons. She challenged Adventist leaders to be Christ-like.
“Become the best as a leader,” she encouraged. “Self-study your successes. What did I do right? What went well? What contributed to that? Ask questions, study, pay it forward.”
Day three of this year’s SeLD Conference featured 14 seminar presentations on procedures in evaluation, utilizing best practices in departmental leadership, making online learning effective, ADRA in times of need, the pastor as a missional leader, keeping the church family together in difficult times, the church elder as a spiritual leader, and dealing with difficult behaviors in the organization, among others.