My Revised Leadership Style.
I want to start by firstly making it clear that I do not claim to be a big/ famous/ influential leader. But I do have quite a few years of being a part of big teams, rising in the ranks, so to say, and then leading teams of my own.
I have close friends who have been in leadership roles for most of their adult lives. We've spent many evenings (actually late nights into early hours of mornings) and several hundred cups of tea to try and understand what we can do better.
So it's safe to say that I have some experience in trying to get things right. And I'm objective enough to know that I'm nowhere near perfect, nor anywhere close to having the perfect formula for leadership.
Also, there are several layers to leadership. There are some spaces where you cannot do much because you're not autonomous. So there can be limits to one's leadership.
Having understood all of this, and understanding the vast scope and nuances of leadership, there is one thing that has been coming up again and again in my conversations lately and I want to highlight just that one aspect in this post today.
Hopefully, this can trigger a few new conversations and we can get to discussing other sides of leadership too, some other day.
I want to talk to you today about what I would like to label *The Patron Leadership*.
You've probably heard of Patron Saints. And I'm NOT suggesting treating your leader as one :D.
Hahaha! That would be ironic to the spirit of my post!
This is how Dictionary.com describes it.
Definition of patron
a person who is a customer, client, or paying guest, especially a regular one, of a store, hotel, or the like. a person who supports with money, gifts, efforts, or endorsement an artist, writer, museum, cause, charity, institution, special event, or the like: a patron of the arts; patrons of the annual Democratic dance. a person whose support or protection is solicited or acknowledged by the dedication of a book or other work. patron saint.
So a Patron is someone who 1) Has influence, 2) Has the means to support, and 3) Has paid their dues in the field and therefore is highly respected.
Now imagine you are this kind of leader.
Actually, all leaders are this kind of leader. In the sense that they all have influence, and means and are respected.
Unfortunately, this does NOT naturally equate to being a Patron Leader.
And much to my disappointment, most leaders are not:(.
Because a Patron Leader does not sit on his laurels. Does not only delegate, because he's now " paid his dues" and wants to "raise others through experience and workload".
And while I've touched this sore point, may I please just say, that is a big load of crap. Delegating without mentoring is just lazy, irresponsible, and cutting corners and honestly does more harm than good.
Back to my main point.
Patron Leadership is one where the leader's motto should be: "I have done the hard work, so you don't have to start from scratch".
Let me explain. I've heard so many people say that there is "a process. Even we as leaders had to go through it, so you will have to too".
Even I have made this mistake with some people on my team. I've learned the hard way how demoralizing and demotivating this is.
I'm not going to touch on the changes this "process" needs. That's a whole other post as well.
My point here is, as a leader, my role in this person's life should've been to help them learn at the level that I have given them an entry at, and then put efforts into building them up from there. This takes into consideration the person's abilities and also how best we can utilize them for the team and help them grow as well.
Sticking to the "letter and law of the process" treats all talent as equal at a starting point. But all talent is Not equal. All talent does Not grow equally either.
My new way of leadership hopefully will therefore be a style where I say to someone, "I've built this team from scratch. I have walked some roads, fought some battles and I have come to say level P. Now, how can we help each other maintain this level, and build upwards?"
Ex: Just because I as a leader started as a parent volunteer helping out at the back of the Sunday school room, I should not require that of a new volunteer with superb teaching skills. It's detrimental to the whole team.
Yes, there are dues to be paid, but a good leader has already paid some of them so that the team can start, operate and build at a better value to each individual.
This type of leadership requires a very secure leader of course. You cannot be in competition with your best teammate. That team will survive, but it will never achieve greatness.
The other type of Patron Leadership is one where the leader says, "I will help fight your battles, you just concentrate on the mission".
My best friend recently spoke at a seminar and let me give you a bit of personal background on him.
He's in the creative field and not in full-time ministry. But he has always maintained the stand that he has to do what it takes for the Kingdom. So he has his hands in lots of ministries either as a creative partner or financial.
He has also had to endure years and years of being treated like the odd one, what with conversations about his long hair and how drums were the devil's instrument. All those battles in the mainstream church of India. IYKYK.
He has, of course, developed a sense of humor about it, and honestly, I can also vouch, that once you hit your forties, you sort of develop a hard shell :D.
Ok, so at this creative seminar that he spoke at, the attendees were young professionals between 20-35. Some were older as well. And during his session, he made a statement that I so loved! He said to the crowd, and I'm paraphrasing, Listen, all those uncles and aunties who keep criticizing your hair and your styles and your music? Send them to us. We will argue and fight with them. We have years of practice:).
This struck a chord with me. This is what a good leader should say!
I have been there, done that, and fought the fight. I know how to handle it so let me help you. So that you don't get jaded in the cause and can keep your energies up for the mission at hand, which is building the Kingdom of God.
Kind of like a seasoned soldier who knows the best way to win this and can protect from the front.
This kind of leadership will lead to a team that will always thrive because your teammates stay sharp for the main work, they feel secure and they will always respect you. You bring yourself honor with this.
I think I have definitely practised this, but I think that's not enough. I'm going to be vocal about this. Say it in as many words and let your team know that you have their back. Affirmations from the leadership plays a huge role in the longevity of one's stint in the team.
This also ties in with my previous point. The new team member has to pay his dues right? Let them do the battle, the actual leg work, the trips to the print shop, and the long hours of decoration and preps. But from a position of security, not drudgery.
Not because you're at home having "delegated" but because you're in the office room with your seniors, fighting for just that little extra for your team.
I sometimes wonder if there's any point to my blogging and why I bother trying to give my perspectives on things. However, as I type today, I feel a sense of resolve that even if I can help 2 people feel like making a change, or use these as some points to remember in their leadership journeys, I would've helped a whole stream of people in effect.
I really have such a heart for our kids and what we can leave for them. And let me tell you, it is a fight. We have so much to protect them from and yet equip them too. Build them up and stand in the gap.
I'm going to adopt a Patron Leadership style.
It is constantly going to take work, humility, burden and commitment.
But I will do it.
I will do it for the next generation.
And at the heart of it, there has to be Love.
The cover art was a free download, contact me if it belongs to you and I'll give you due credit:).