GTSH6/8 Considering the Individual

Considering the Individual

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

Who was Zacchaeus?

Just a hated tax collector who everyone treated with distaste or, from another perspective, just a ridiculous and hated little man in a tree?

To Jesus he was neither, he was Zacchaeus, a person. Jesus saw past the stereotypes and saw a person, an individual and treated him as such. There are many examples in the Bible of Jesus treating people not according to stereotypes but as individuals: the Samaritan women at the well, the women taken in adultery, the Pharisees who tried to trap him to name but three.

God knows the number of hairs on our heads and that is different for each person. If he knows such trivia about us he knows all about us and, as individuals, we are important to him. If he doesn’t forget an individual sparrow, which in human terms is worthless, how can he not pay attention to each individual person who is of great value?

Think too of the opening of Psalm 139.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4

God knows everything there is to know about us and yet he continued to work out his grace towards us through the sacrificial service of Jesus. Not only are we so important to him that he takes notice of every detail of our lives but he chooses to treat us with such concern, love and respect.

The Leader Who Considers the Individual Takes Notice of Them

If we are going to model Jesus in our leadership style then individuals will also be important to us. Not because they are cogs in the machine but because they are individuals with individual needs and aspirations which are as important to us as are our own.

The thing about individuals is that they are just that, individual.  Each one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, our preferences, our needs, our own backgrounds and aspirations. We are diverse in the broadest sense of that word.

Christ-centred Servant leaders will seek to know and understand the individual members of the diverse group for whom they are responsible. They will also recognise that each person needs to be released to apply their diverse contributions well.  This means that the leader must take time to get to know each of the people whom they lead; to understand their diversity and the value this brings. Then they seek to positively engage that diversity for the benefit of all.

The Leader Who Considers the Individual Tailors their Leadership Style

If the individual is truly valued then, as we learned in the Leading with Insight module on emotional intelligence, the Christ-centred servant leader really needs to relate to individuals on an individual basis. This means that we will deliberately choose to adapt the style of our interactions with them, selecting an approach that is appropriate. The result will be a more harmonious and effective relationship and they will feel more valued.  Thus as Christ-centred servant leaders, concerned for the individual, we must again recognise that leadership is not ‘one-size-fits-all’ but that we must adapt in order to serve those whom we lead.

In the next topic we will look at a strategy called Situational Leadership which helps leaders to adapt to the needs of their individual constituents.

One aspect of servant leadership is that it is naturally consultative. In other words the leader involves people in the decisions that affect them. They consult with those they lead when solving problems, drawing up plans and working out how to assign tasks. Such a consultative style acknowledges the individual and enables the leader to tailor their approach. This is a natural expression of the servant character of Kingdom leadership. However, we need to note that this is one area where “Kingdom culture” will clash with the nature of some national cultures, for instance those with a high power distance and those that are highly collectivist.

The Leader Who Considers the Individual Facilitates Individual Development Plans

If the Christ-centred servant leader is to achieve the goal of enabling individuals to fulfil their potential then each person needs a specific and individual development plan. These plans must be developed with them and agreed by them. Such a plan will consider them as individuals needing to develop and grow as individuals as well as considering the context of their role in the enterprise which you lead.  The leader must collaboratively consider their development needs so they can become, and feel, accomplished in their contribution to achieving the shared vision?

Reflections

  • Take a Moment: How well do you know the people you lead?
    • Consider each one and jot down the key things you know about their strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, preferences, needs, what they enjoy most and least about what they do.
    • Reflect on the JoHari window model and create an action plan about how you can get to know them better.

  • Take a Moment:  Reflect on what you learned in the Leading with Insight module.
    • Think about each of those whom you lead and identify what they need from you as a leader.
    • Consider the different ways that they respond to your leadership and the leadership of others.
    • How you can adapt your leadership style to help them become more accomplished?
    • What can you do to confirm that view?  Make an action plan.

  • Take a Moment:  How can you develop those you lead so they can fulfil their potential?
    • Prepare an action plan.

Leadership Practices Headlines

Having completed our consideration of the seven leadership practices they can be summarised as follows:

Model the Way
  • Clarify values
  • Set the example by “walking the talk”
Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Envision the future
  • Enlist others in a common vision
Challenge the Process
  • Search for opportunities for growth and improvement
  • Experiment and take risks to create many small wins
Enable Others to Act
  • Foster collaboration via shared goals and developing trust
  • Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion
Encourage the Heart
  • Recognise individual contributions and excellence
  • Celebrate accomplishments and create a community spirit
Nurture the Character
  • Live out and encourage a Christ-centred integrity
  • Treat others with respect and dignity
Consider the Individual
  • Take notice of individuals
  • Tailor leadership to the those being led

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