(Part two of a four-part series examining Deloitte’s Business Chemistry® and its implications for faith-based organizations. To read part one, “Guardians of the Church Galaxy,” click here.)
David Lee Davis, Executive Director
John was new to faith in Christ and new to the church. Employed as a project manager in one of Atlanta’s fastest growing companies, John brought a lot of intellectual capital and practical wisdom to the congregation’s organizational life. A new follower of Jesus, John also exuded a great deal of excitement about the congregation’s mission to reach people. He wanted others to discover what he had found in his newly formed relationship with God.
John, in every dimension of his life, loved to be a part of solutions. As a creative thinker and driven problem-solver, he was a logical choice for the newly formed Strategic Planning Committee. Also, he was genuinely excited about the possibility of using his skills to further the congregation’s mission by expanding its facilities, increasing its organizational capacity, and developing a strategic staffing plan. By all accounts, it should have been a match made in heaven; the committee’s work was significant, worthy of his time and energizing.
His first meeting with the committee began as many meetings in churches and nonprofits often start. People arrived late. The first five minutes of the meeting was spent chatting about last Saturday’s football game. Two people were off to the side showing each other their family vacation pictures.
Once the meeting started, thematic priorities were established and challenges to the congregation’s growth were discussed. Every conversation drifted into tangents and ambiguity. Almost an hour had passed and no goals were set, no benchmarks agreed upon, yet everyone was excited about the possibilities for further growth. The meeting ended with a reminder that the church pancake breakfast was Saturday.
The committee never saw John again.
John is what Kim Christfort and Susanne Vickberg identify as a Driver. In their newly released book, Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships, Drivers are described as no-nonsense people who bring creative solutions to practical problems. They can make tough choices without second-guessing themselves and they get results. Drivers value a robust analysis backed up by logic and facts. They are naturally competitive and their competitiveness is not personal.
Simply put, Drivers get things done. Outgoing or extroverted Commander/Drivers are disciplined leaders and tough-minded competitors. Introverted Scientist/Drivers are curious intellectuals who focus on ideas that create positive impact. The introverted Driver, unlike the extroverted Driver, is not hierarchically oriented. Neither the Commander nor the Scientist Driver places a high priority on social relationships. The old saying “it’s not personal, it’s just business” was probably first spoken by a Driver.
Congregational life, nonprofit contexts, and some small businesses often create Driver hell. When there is no data, no analysis, no goals, no targets, or no plan for progress, Drivers suffocate. They cannot thrive in anything that seems pointless, directionless, or leaderless. If there is a leadership vacuum and a Driver present, the Driver will seek to fill that vacuum. Generally, they prioritize goals over relationships which makes life in religious communities relationally complicated for them.
In the faith-based nonprofit world, relationships are the cornerstone of community life. Small talk conversations about football games, vacations, and pancake breakfast friendships build connection and trust. There is no way to change that. So a tension which has been managed poorly has to be handled better. The church needs Drivers more than Drivers need the church. You know it. In fact, you can probably name more than a few business owners, chief executive officers, or chief information officers you’d love to have integrated into the life of the church. However, the story is the same; they are happy to give financially but don’t have any interest in serving on a committee.
Drivers have to be coached into organizational life.
As leaders, we tend to treat all people the same. Those of us who are not Drivers often take for granted the ease at which we form relationships or can tolerate ambiguity. However, we long for positive results, progress, and growth. We need Drivers because they are successful, tenacious and creative problem solvers. What church doesn’t need those kinds of leaders?
Once you have identified a Driver in your congregation or nonprofit, here are a few tips for coaching them in and through the organization.
Prepare them to value the relational side of the organization. Be sure to encourage Drivers to get to know the people, to connect and build a relational bridge.
Drivers are drawn to confidence and competence. When discussing organizational challenges with a Driver, speak clearly about where the organization is going and the progress you envision. Going on about problems and conveying a sense of confusion and uncertainty will scare a Driver away. Get to the point quickly. Drivers don’t care for small talk or tangents.
Accelerate decision-making processes. Drivers appreciate quick decisions, and they dislike lengthy processes and second-guessing. If you are second guessing past choices in a conversation with a Driver, you are telling them that you are not a competent leader.
The Apostle Paul, more than likely, was a Driver who learned to adapt to the relational realities of the Christian community. His frustration with the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:14) aside, Paul was a tenacious Commander/Driver who developed an appointive process, a gift-based approach to local congregational development, as well as an ecclesial structure that created a foundation for the growth of the church and the furthering of the gospel. The church needed Paul so that the world might come to know Jesus.
If you are a Driver, the faith-based world needs you and the perspective you bring. Be aware these organizations are full of Integrators and Guardians who seek to protect the past and put relationships above goals. They will frustrate you but you’re tenacious so press on. They need your ability to collect and analyze data, identify problems and obstacles, as well as your ability to craft creative solutions which bring growth and progress. However, you’ll have to bend a little by avoiding power struggles, tempering your competitive tendencies, and relinquishing your need for control. You don’t have to be in charge to make a huge impact. In fact, organizations can’t make the journey toward effectiveness without you.
Interested in knowing how to better relate to the people with whom you work? Or maybe you want to understand yourself better. Click here to take the Business Chemistry® self-test or to develop a profile for someone else. It’s free, but you’ll have to give an e-mail address.
We at IGC would love to help with your staff needs. If you’d like to know more about IGC Consulting Services for congregations and faith-based nonprofits, visit our website at intentionalgrowthcenter.org. Our mission is to serve those who serve God. We’d love to help with staff evaluations, team building, job description clarification/performance planning, or your next staff retreat.
David Lee Davis, D.Min, CFRE is the Executive Director of the Intentional Growth Center. David holds degrees from Princeton Seminary, Emory University, and Houghton Wesleyan College.