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Dictator, Delegator, Pollster, or Coach …

Which one best describes you? In his most recent podcast Michael Hyatt (at and click on podcasts) titled “The 5 Benefits of Collaboration” he made the statement “Being a dictator is very efficient, it just isn’t not very effective.” I wrote it down when and have been rolling it around in my mind (lot’s empty space in there) and wrestling with how I lead in my church. Not how I claim to lead, or how I want to lead, but how I really lead.

Michael Hyatt’s statement is so true in the long haul. The temptation to lead as a dictator is because it works in the short term. For a while it can work both efficiently and effectively. But only for a while. Being a dictator is often quicker, no one to check with and no discussions on what to do next. You choose and then move. There are many problems with this method of leadership in any setting, but especially in the church. One problem is that, contrary to what your ego may tell you, you don’t know everything. Even if you are the smartest person in the room you still don’t know everything. Another problem with dictatorship is that no one else is engaged or invested in whatever you are leading. If you simply dictate, people will wait for your decree and then do what you have declared. That is not a recipe for a vibrant group. Another problem is that you will be missing great ideas if you don’t engage others and listen to their thinking. In the church, the biggest problem is that we are already under authority as a follower of Christ. We are to seek his word, his will, his ways and not our own.

Delegators answer a few of the problems of a dictator. They involve other people, but too often we only involve them as we hand things off. As a delegator we at least realize we can’t do everything, but unless you are inviting others to share in the decisions you can simply become a less obnoxious dictator. Delegation is vital in vibrant organizations, but we must be careful that we are not just “dumping” things on them as John Maxwell would say.

Pollsters, this is my polite term for politicians. It appears that at this time our political leaders have become nothing more than pollsters. They seem to make all their decisions based on what will satisfy their constituents, rather than on what is best or right. As leaders in a church we must be very careful of becoming this type of leader. We are to be following Christ and not the whims of people. We must be aware of what people are thinking and it is wise to know what people like. However, the likes and whims of people cannot be the determining factor of our leadership decisions.

Coaching is an increasingly popular image for leadership. Having coached various sports for more than 20 seasons I like the coaching image. Coaches have to make solo decisions at times. Some coaches have assistant coaches and listen to their expertise in leading their organization. Great coaches have relationships with the team and invite their thoughts when decisions are to be made. Coaching seems a much better image for leadership in a church than the other three for sure. It is not completely adequate because we are followers of Christ first and foremost. But the methods of good coaching and good pastoring appear to have a lot in common.

Which of these four pictures of leadership best describes your leadership in this past year? Not which one do you prefer, but which one would those you are leading choose to describe your leadership? What do you think of these pictures?

Here’s hoping you are following Christ closely enough to lead as he leads.



About dennyowens

I am a pastor, writer, and coach who is seeking to encourage people to follow Jesus and regain hope. I am a husband to a wonderful wife and helpmate, a father to great kids who are following Jesus and a grandpa to the greatest grandkids in the world. I have been a coach for many sports and a coach to a few pastors as well. I love sports, love to read, love to fish and love to do anything with my grandkids.

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