By Steve Echols and Allen England
Crises come in many forms. But in the midst of these experiences are some common dimensions of leadership that we can identify and examine. Leadership literature often refers to leadership style as reflecting tendencies of leaders in terms of their approaches and characteristics. We also use the term stylistic competency because it reflects not just the manner of a leader but also the need for particular skills.
In our case studies, we discovered that seven stylistic competencies were particularly important to ministry leadership in a time of crisis.
To use the Titanic analogy, they serve as leadership lifeboats. They provide the means for a congregation or ministry organization not only to survive but also in some instances even to thrive in the midst of extremely trying circumstances. We believe that these leadership lifeboats are channels of help through which God empowers leaders in such perilous moments.
Each of the seven stylistic competencies focuses on a way leaders can inspire others to follow.
- Through modeling spiritual vitality, spiritual leaders motivate God’s people to fulfill God’s purposes.
- Assuring leaders provide hope and confidence to constituents in the midst of difficult circumstances.
- Visionary leaders communicate the ultimate purpose of an organization in such a vivid and appealing manner that followers not only understand that purpose but also are motivated to embrace it with passionate commitment.
- Decisive leaders discern the need for an immediate decision and have the fortitude to execute it in a manner that temporarily may require an authoritative style.
- Empathetic leaders connect with constituents in such a compassionate way that they know the leader genuinely cares for their difficulties, sufferings, and losses.
- Empowering leaders equip and enable others to employ their talents and abilities to the fullest.
- Creative leaders respond with innovation and intuition to find solutions to problems and challenges they cannot solve through previously established means.
The stylistic competency a leader employs should emerge from intimate knowledge of the followers as well as insight about the prevailing situation.
Adapted from Catastrophic Crisis (B&H Publishing Group, 2011)