People are different; leaders are different. This reality should be reflected in a healthy development process in two ways.
Different Learning Experiences
People grow and learn at different rates, in different ways, from different things. Therefore, an effective process will use a variety of learning experiences to assist participants’ transformation.
The fact is that everyone brings a different set of interests, abilities, personality factors, developmental levels, social and cultural experiences, and emotions to bear on learning opportunities.
Particular teaching material can usually be taught in a variety of ways. In addition, the available research suggests that everyone learns better when the content is approached in more than one way – both visual and verbal, as well as through hands-on active learning. Thus, a healthy teaching model will use a variety of learning experiences to augment the lecture-only method that has been used almost exclusively in traditional schools.
A “collage” of different kinds of learning experiences will provide more effective learning for everyone.
People’s callings are different (1 Cor. 12; John 21:22); therefore, our learning goals for them should reflect these differences.
So, for example:
- While there should be a core content track that everyone completes, not everyone will need to go as deeply into certain areas as others might, depending on their individual callings.
- Ministry projects need to be individualized.
- Appropriate mentors and coaches should be given to emerging leaders in their particular areas of calling.
Practical Implications for Builders
In view of the above, effective leader development will be individualistic, with consistent core principles. Each person is a unique tapestry of callings, strengths and weaknesses, and his or her developmental needs must be matched with developmental opportunities and approaches and be consistent with the ministry needs of the community.
This has several important implications. It means that leaders who build leaders must first know them. They must step beyond superficial acquaintance and the temptation to resort to routine “methods” of development. It is not sufficient for the mentoring leader to give the emerging leader “the book that we use for leadership training” and have him read it, and then ask him the prescribed questions. The mentoring leader, after taking the time to get to know the new leader in a variety of situations, must design a multi-faceted strategy of development that will be most appropriate for him. Over time, this strategy will need to be corrected and adjusted, perhaps completely reworked. This whole process will take considerably more time and effort than the usual “here’s the book or course we always use” method, but will yield far superior results.
As we have mentioned before, this, in turn, means that one leader can build only a few other leaders – if he will do it properly. But this also means that each leader built in this manner will be stronger and healthier than those built using a one-size-fits-all method.