How to Understand GenZ’s Unique Personality

How can you be more effective about reaching and leading the generation after the Millennials?

Born between 1995 and 2012, at 72.8 million strong, Gen Zers are making their presence known. It is the generation that is now collectively under the age of 25. They’re radically different from the Millennials, yet no one seems to have been talking much about them until recently.

While there has been a great deal of conversation about “fixing” the Millennial generation, we are in danger of missing the next generation as they step into the workplace – and leadership roles at our churches.

As a group, on one hand they have been notorious about dropping out from your church. On they other hand, they make up a significant part of both your ministry participants and prospects.

They are also beginning to step into very visible leadership roles in your church.

So what does Gen Z look like, and what does that mean for your church?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – David Stillman and Jonah Stillman, Gen Z @ Work

A generations expert and author of When Generations Collide and The M-Factor teams up with his 17-year-old son to introduce the next influential demographic group to join the workforce—Generation Z—in this essential study, the first on the subject.

Based on the first national studies of Gen Z’s workplace attitudes; interviews with hundreds of CEOs, celebrities, and thought leaders on generational issues; cutting-edge case studies; and insights from Gen Zers themselves, Gen Z @ Work offers the knowledge today’s leaders need to get ahead of the next gaps in the workplace and how best to recruit, retain, motivate, and manage Gen Zers. Ahead of the curve, Gen Z @ Work is the first comprehensive, serious look at what the next generation of workers looks like, and what that means for the rest of us.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In order to begin to understand Gen Z, you first need to put them into perspective with the rest of the population at large:

 

Then, there is the conundrum of what to call them. Words matter, and once attached, are hard to change. Each of the generations prior to Gen Z were named, and for various reasons, Gen Z seems to be the one most favored.

But don’t be mistaken – Gen Z is not a “label” to be applied to the millions of individuals born between 1995 and 2012, all with very unique differences. It’s a name – but it represents some very interesting characteristics.

A new generation is starting to hit our workforce, yet no one seems to be talking about it. Until now.

In order to pioneer a dialogue about what they will be like in the workplace, here are seven key traits of Gen Z

Phigital: Gen Z is the first generation born into a world where every physical aspect (people and places) has a digital equivalent.

Hyper-Custom: Gen Z has always worked hard at identifying and customizing their own brand for the world to know. Their ability to customize everything has created an expectation that there is an intimate understanding of their behaviors and desires.

Realistic: Growing up during the aftermath of 9/11, with terrorism part of everyday life, as well as living through a severe recession early on, has created a very pragmatic mindset when it comes to planning and preparing for the future.

FOMO: Gen Z suffers from an intense fear of missing out on anything. The good news is that they will stay on top of all trends and competition. The bad news is that Gen Z will always worry that they aren’t moving ahead fast enough and in the right direction.

Weconomists: From Uber to Airbnb, Gen Z has only known a world with a shared economy. Gen Z will push the workplace to break down internal and external silos to leverage the collective in new convenient and cost-effective ways.

DIY: Gen Z is the do-it-yourself generation. Having grown up on YouTube, which can teach them how to do just about anything, Gen Z believes that they can do just about anything themselves.

Driven: With parents who drilled into them that participation is not a real reward and that there are winners and losers, a recession that pulled the rug out from their predecessors, and a rate of change that is hard to keep up with, it is no wonder that Gen Z is one driven generation.

David Stillman and Jonah Stillman, Gen Z @ Work

A NEXT STEP

If you want to know more about Gen Z in your church, start at the source. Even with the wide range of ages, it would be informative to sit down with a group of Gen Zers and have a dialogue with them:

  • What do they like to do with free time?
  • Who is their favorite celebrity?
  • What kind of music and entertainment do they regularly listen to?
  • What brands do they like the best?
  • What apps do they use most on their phones?
  • What colleges do they want to go to, if at all?
  • What is most important to them right now?

Another goldmine of information on Gen Zers? Teachers! Take a few teachers out to lunch and ask them:

  • What do they see happening with this generation, as they become young adults and leaders in the world?
  • What were their biggest struggles in working with Gen Z?
  • What gaps do they see in current societal needs that Gen Zers may struggle with?
  • For those teachers who have been around awhile, what were the biggest differences between Gen Z and Millennials (born 1980-1994)?

Finally, take a look at the list of seven traits above. Which is most important to you in terms of ministry with Gen Z? Share that with your team and encourage them to be on the lookout for Gen Zers who have this trait, and how it can be used in your churches ministry.

On the flip side, take a look at the list again, looking for the least important trait. Recognizing that it may be important to others, dialogue with your team how this trait can be strengthened with the Gen Zers you minister with.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #70-1, released July 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

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Leaders Lead with Character

While the phrase “natural born leader” is often used, there’s really not scientific support for this phenomenon. In reality anyone could become a leader and everyone should grow as a leader.

To become a leader is to become a learner. Leadership is not a natural gifting but a set of abilities, and like any other skill set it is to be learned and improved.

Those who have chosen to take on or accept a leadership role must own their personal responsibility for developing their leadership ability.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Integrity, by Henry Cloud

Integrity—more than simple honesty, it’s the key to success. A person with integrity has the ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances. Drawing on experiences from his work, Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, leadership coach, corporate consultant and nationally syndicated radio host, shows how our character can keep us from achieving all we want to (or could) be.

In Integrity, Dr. Cloud explores the six qualities of character that define integrity, and how people with integrity.

Integrity is not something that you either have or don’t, but instead is an exciting growth path that all of us can engage in and enjoy.

 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Lead with Character

Most people view integrity as an aspect of honesty. Integrity is adherence to code of ethics or set of values. It also involves how well our actions match our beliefs. It suggests a wholeness or coherence in our philosophies and values, in our public and private statements, and in our actions across a variety of situations.

In short, integrity is about character.

Character has components to it, or traits, and areas of functioning where it operates. Those contexts are the real places where our personhood and reality interface and results occur, either positive or negative.

Character = the ability to meet the demands of reality.

What I have tried to do is take aspects of character and put them into functions that tend to be different from each other, and therefore discrete, and at the same time, related to each other, and therefore integrated. If we have that combination, then we can focus on specific aspects of our makeup and, at the same time, be focusing on all of our makeup and getting it working together.

Let’s look at what those aspects of character are:

The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust)

The ability to be oriented toward the truth (which leads to finding and operating in reality)

The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well (which leads to reaching goals, profits, or the mission)

The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative (which leads to ending problems, resolving them, or transforming them)

The ability to be oriented toward growth (which leads to increase)

The ability to be transcendent (which leads to enlargement of the bigger picture of oneself)

Henry Cloud, Integrity

A NEXT STEP

Riders in London’s Underground (subway) are very familiar with the audible and visible warning to “mind the gap.” It’s a phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the horizontal spatial gap between the train door and the station platform.

Maybe a more familiar use comes from the immortal wisdom of Rocky Balboa, when asked about what attracted him to his future wife, Adrian: “She’s got gaps, I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps.”

We all have gaps, especially when it comes to our character. Do not take this as a weakness, but instead think of it as chance to improve.

Look at the list of character traits above, and list them on a chart tablet. On a scale of “1” (I have little ability in this area) to “5” (I am very confident in this ability), assign yourself a number for each character trait.

The gap is our need and opportunity for growth.

For each character trait you scored between a 1 and 3, list actions you can take to advance the development of that trait to become a 4 or 5.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 69-2, issued June 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

Leaders Get Calendared

Do you find yourself constantly running from one issue to the next without any margin in your life?

Do you feel like you are over-committed to such a degree that the truly important things have been slipping a little?

Do you wish for a reset button and dream of starting over someplace new, just like you did last time? (How did that work out for you?)

Many times we neglect the lasting work of ministry for the instant gratification of solving a problem or being the hero. The thing is, nobody wins when church activity replaces people development. Pastors, more than anyone, must learn to be disciplined to focus, and do only what only they can do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Kevin Kruse, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

What if a few new habits could dramatically increase your productivity, and even 5x or 10x in key areas? What if you could get an hour a day to read, exercise, or to spend with your family?

New York Times bestselling author, Kevin Kruse, presents the remarkable findings of his study of ultra-productive people. Based on survey research and interviews with billionaires, Olympic athletes, straight-A students, and over 200 entrepreneurs—-including Mark Cuban, Kevin Harrington, James Altucher, John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, Grant Cardone, and Lewis Howes – Kruse answers the question: “What are the secrets to extreme productivity?”

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Faced with a mountain of tasks to do and things to accomplish, most of us feel immediately better when we’ve put all of these things on a “to-do list.” And, there is some value in putting things to be done on paper (or digitally stored).

But that value is practically nothing unless you find a way to act upon that thing.

Highly successful people dont have a to-do list, but they do have a very well-kept calendar.

One of the most consistent actions you can take to get things done is to schedule time for them.

The simple act of scheduling tasks on your calendar – instead of writing them on a to-do list – will free your mind, reduce stress, and increase cognitive performance. There are several key concepts to managing your life using your calendar instead of a to-do list.

First, schedule a chunk of time for everything that is important to you; this is called “time blocking” or “time boxing.” Focus on those things that bring you closer to your goals each and every day.

Second, important items should be scheduled as early in the day as possible. As the day progresses, all kinds of things will come up, and you will find it hard to keep focused on the important things.

Third, dont cancel goals; reschedule them if necessary. When circumstances prevent keeping an important time-block, reschedule it, keeping it as a priority.

Fourth, treat your time-blocked calendar entries as if they were appointments with your doctor; they are that important. Don’t cave in on your self-scheduled appointments; they really are important!

When you master the practice of time-blocking – using your calendar instead of your to-do list – you can literally see your life’s priorities by looking at your weekly calendar.

Kevin Kruse, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

A NEXT STEP

Utilizing a calendar is probably second nature to you, whether a digital calendar or a print calendar, or a combination of both. Even so, review the four concepts listed above and choose to implement them as a part of a two-week experiment.

Putting these concepts into use can transform your calendar into a powerful life-guiding tool.

Using the concepts above, make an effort over the next two weeks to put them into practice in your daily calendaring. By utilizing these concepts, you are in effect designing your ideal week with your priorities.

At the end of the two-week experiment, what changes have you noticed? What changes have those closest to you noticed?

Now challenge your team toward this same effort. Begin to celebrate calendaring success and measure the increased output and impact of your efforts.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 68-2, issued June 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

Grow Your Leadership Skills – Lead with Influence

Do you know you are a leader, but need help growing your leadership skills?

While the phrase “natural born leader” is often used, there’s really not scientific support for this phenomenon. In reality anyone could become a leader and everyone should grow as a leader.

To become a leader is to become a learner. Leadership is not a natural gifting but a set of abilities, and like any other skill set it is to be learned and improved.

Those who have chosen to take on or accept a leadership role must own their personal responsibility for developing their leadership ability.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, et al, Influencer

Whether you’re a CEO, a parent, or merely a person who wants to make a difference, you probably wish you had more influence with the people in your life. But most of us stop trying to make change happen because we believe it is too difficult, if not impossible. We learn to cope rather than learning to influence.

From the bestselling authors who taught the world how to have Crucial Conversations comes the new edition of Influencer, a thought-provoking book that combines the remarkable insights of behavioral scientists and business leaders with the astonishing stories of high-powered influencers from all walks of life. You’ll be taught each and every step of the influence process–including robust strategies for making change inevitable in your personal life, your business, and your world. You’ll learn how to:

  • Identify high-leverage behaviors that lead to rapid and profound change
  • Apply strategies for changing both thoughts and actions
  • Marshal six sources of influence to make change inevitable

Influencer takes you on a fascinating journey from San Francisco to Thailand to South Africa, where you’ll see how seemingly “insignificant” people are making incredibly significant improvements in solving problems others would think impossible. You’ll learn how savvy folks make change not only achievable and sustainable, but inevitable. You’ll discover breakthrough ways of changing the key behaviors that lead to greater safety, productivity, quality, and customer service.

No matter who you are or what you do, you’ll never learn a more valuable or important set of principles and skills. Once you tap into the power of influence, you can reach out and help others work smarter, grow faster, live, look, and feel better–and even save lives. The sky is the limit . . . for an Influencer.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

John Maxwell, arguably one of the most respected authorities on leadership, is well known for his definition of leadership as being influence – nothing more, nothing less.

It is a good start, but it is not adequate by itself.

David Burkas, executive coach, modifies Maxwell’s definition:

Leadership is the process of influencing others to work toward a mutually desired vision.

Leaders, then, recruit and influence followers to work together to make a shared vision reality.

At the end of the day, what qualifies people to be called “leaders” is their capacity to influence others to change their behavior in order to achieve important results.

Influencers are successful because they think intentionally about their ability to help others act in unprecedentedly effective ways. They think about influencing behavior, talk about it, and practice it.

Three keys that all influencers adhere to and that you can use to your own benefit:

Focus and measure. Influencers are crystal clear about the result they are trying to achieve and are zealous about measuring it.

Find vital behaviors. Influencers focus on high-leverage behaviors that drive results. More specifically, they focus on the two or three vital actions that produce the greatest amount of change.

Engage all six sources of influence. Influencers break from the pack by overdetermining change. Where most of us apply a favorite influence tool or two to our important challenges, influencers identify all of the varied forces that are shaping the behavior they want to change and then get them working for rather than against them. And now for the really good news. According to research, by getting six different sources of influence to work in their favor, influencers increase their odds of success tenfold. The six sources are:

  • Personal motivation – help them love what they hate

  • Personal ability – help them do what they can’t

  • Social motivation – provide encouragement

  • Social ability – provide assistance

  • Structural motivation – change their economy

  • Structural ability – change their space

Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, et al, Influencer

A NEXT STEP

Review each of the three keys above by considering the following questions.

Influence begins when you focus and measure

  • Identify what you are really trying to accomplish
  • Create measures that focus your attention on this goal
  • Takes these measures frequently

Next, find vital behaviors

  • Identify two or three behaviors that will drive the majority of your change
  • Concentrate all your change efforts on these behaviors

Finally, engage all six sources of influence

  • Review the six sources of influence listed above
  • Which of these six sources are working against you?
  • How can you turn it from a negative into a positive source of influence?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 69-1, issued June 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Time Management Begins with Being Organized

Do you spend more time fighting fires than making disciples?

Do you find yourself constantly running from one issue to the next without any margin in your life?

Do you feel like you are over-committed to such a degree that the truly important things have been slipping a little?

Do you wish for a reset button and dream of starting over someplace new, just like you did last time? (How did that work out for you?)

Many times we neglect the lasting work of ministry for the instant gratification of solving a problem or being the hero. The thing is, nobody wins when church activity replaces people development. Pastors, more than anyone, must learn to be disciplined to focus, and do only what only they can do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Time Management Magic, by Lee Cockerell

During Lee Cockerell’s career at Disney as the Senior Operating Executive of Walt Disney World Resort, he led a team of 40,000 Cast Members (employees) and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks and the ESPN Sports Complex.

As you can imagine, Lee had to become a time management expert, first as a means of survival and then as a way to help others make the best use of their time. The time management secrets he developed have become one of his most requested corporate training lectures and are now available to you in this tell–all book.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Almost everyone you encounter feels that he or she has too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done. We may have a “better” life than earlier generations, but at what price? Increased stress levels? Growing frustration?

Our lives no longer have clear boundaries. Not only does it seem that our work and personal lives are always open-ended, the two are usually intertwined.

If our lives have changed, then it stands to reason that the old models and habits used to deal with life are insufficient, and need to change as well.

Most people are not overworkedthey are under-organized.

We need to figure out how to be more organized, so we can get all the urgent, vital, and important things done before it’s too late. I believe the average person can do 50 percent more than they are doing now, including all the right things, if they have an effective system for keeping their lives under control.

The number one excuse people use for not getting done what should be done is, “I did not have enough time.” It’s really nothing more than an excuse, since we all have exactly the same amount of time.

Time management is the act of controlling the events in your life.

A lot of people would reject that definition because they believe we can’t control the events in our lives, because so much of what we deal with every day springs up unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere.

Here are some practical tips that will give you a high level of control:

Surround yourself with great people – hire skilled people with passion for their work and a can-do attitude.

Train and educate – train your team thoroughly and educate them about every aspect of your operation, including values, philosophy, priorities, and mission.

Be crystal clear about your expectations – communicate your expectations with unambiguous clarity.

Anticipate and practice – think through all the things that can happen and practice how you will handle them.

Leave spaces in your calendar – pencil in free, uncommitted periods in your day, every day.

Do it now! – when something comes up that must be done, do it; don’t procrastinate.

Lee Cockerell, Time Management Magic

A NEXT STEP

Review Lee’s list of six practical tips listed above, and rank them from what you do best to what you do worst.

Starting at the bottom (the action that you are the worst at), make a specific effort for the next week to put that tip into practice. For example, if you don’t leave spaces in your calendar, take the time to create space each day in your calendar for the next week.

At the end of the week, take time to review the past week, and note how taking that action changed your daily routine. Was it for the better? How? Was it about the same? Did it make it worse? Ask yourself, “Is this something I need to make a regular part of my routine?”

After completing the “worst” of the six tips, go to the next one, and repeat the actions above for the next week. Repeat each one until you have completed all six.

At the end of six weeks, and having experimented with all six of the tips above, take time to review the process.

  • How has your daily routine improved?
  • Have others on your team noticed?
  • Which of the six tips are you planning to keep and make a part of your regular routine?
  • Which of the six didn’t work for you? Why?

Now repeat this exercise every six months as a reminder on the importance of organization.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 68-1, released June 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

How to Transform Conflict Through Communication

No matter how you define it, conflict is a serious issue that all church leaders face – all too often. You would think that a church “family” should be able to avoid conflict. But how often does your own biological family go through conflict of various intensities?

Your church family consists of hundreds or thousands of complex human relationships, all brought together under the banner of worshipping and serving God in this particular place and time.

You’ve invested yourself heavily in these relationships – as has everyone else to varying degrees. We all have expectations of each other – and when those are not met, the seeds of conflict are planted. Left unaddressed these small seeds can grow into a garden of weeds that choke out the healthy dialog needed to restore the relationship. The longer the situation goes untended, the greater the issue(s) magnify – until the weeds have taken over the garden and any hope of bearing fruit has been squeezed out entirely.

Is it possible to avoid conflict entirely? In a word, no. We’re too “human” to hope for that.

Can we transform and redeem conflict from a destructive force to one in which all parties come through the other side, better for the experience? In a word, yes. We’re children of a loving Father, and His love can see us through any level of conflict.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Transforming Church Conflict by Deborah Van Deusen Hunsinger and Theresa F. Latini

With many pastors facing burnout and congregations suffering from internal divisions, there is a need for Christian resources that present concrete problem-solving techniques for handling conflict in the church.

This book offers practical skills and strategies that the authors have learned through years of studying nonviolent communication (NVC) as described in Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, and as developed by numerous NVC trainers all over the world.

Using real-world case studies and examples, Hunsinger and Latini helpfully guide pastors and lay leaders through effective and compassionate ways to deal with discord. These strategies include differentiating observations from evaluations, experiencing and expressing feelings, identifying and connecting with needs, and making requests rather than demands. By learning the basic skills of compassionate communication, church leaders can be empowered to transform, rather than merely manage, church conflict

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

One of the problems surrounding conflict in the church occurs when you look at the church as a singular organization. While it does exist that way in several aspects (legal entity, location, etc.) it really is made up of several different groups.

For example, many churches have the following three groups within the church:

  • The congregation
  • The governing board
  • The staff

Dealing with conflict the same way with all these groups is really an invitation to extend or worsen the conflict. For example, you could have a disaster simmering on the board and have a happy congregation and staff. It only takes a few dissatisfied staff members to disrupt the work of the board and congregation. Finally, it is all-too-possible to have congregational unrest even when the staff and board are working well together.

What’s the single similarity in all the situations described above?

Communication.

When we value the needs of others as well as our own, we can use the four basic skills of compassionate communication to gain mutual understanding and to fulfill as many core needs as possible within our human limits.

The four basic skills of non-violent communication template are: Observation, Feeling, Need, and Request. The OFNR template for learning compassionate communication is a useful tool for guiding our conversation, but it is not a formula for a particular way of speaking.

Observations describe what is available to our senses: what we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. They are specific to time and context. In making an observation, the aim is to describe what you have seen or heard as if a video camera were recording the incident.

We continually assess what is happening around us through our emotional capacities. Besides acting as a kind of radar for danger, our emotions are also closely tied to our thought.

We are motivated to act, speak, keep silent, and move toward or away from someone on the basis of our needs. Virtually everything we do (or chose not to do) is an attempt to meet a need. Thus, our needs are the source of our underlying motivation.

Once we have clarity about what we need, we can make a request that we believe will contribute to its being met. Requests are understood as gifts, not demands. They give us the opportunity to contribute to one another’s life.

Deborah Van Deusen Hunsinger and Theresa F. Latini, Transforming Church Conflict

A NEXT STEP

To understand and practice better communication among the three groups listed above, set aside time in a future leadership team meeting and work through the following exercise.

Using a current example of an ongoing situation in your church, create a separate chart tablet for the congregation, the governing board, and the staff.

Along the left margin, write the words Observation, Feeling, Need, and Request.

For each of the three groups, and using the descriptions of the OFNR communication skills above, discuss the situation from the vantage point of the particular group.

After you have completed all three charts, look for areas of similarity and difference.

Use the areas of similarity to promote unity, and use the areas of difference to work to an agreeable resolution.

Conflict may be inevitable, for after all we are all human. However, conflict can be preempted and lessened in both intensity and frequency.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 66-3, issued May 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Do You Understand Your Conflict Management Style?

How do you handle church conflict?

No matter how you define it, conflict is a serious issue that all church leaders face – all too often. You would think that a church “family” should be able to avoid conflict. But how often does your own biological family go through conflict of various intensities?

Your church family consists of hundreds or thousands of complex human relationships, all brought together under the banner of worshipping and serving God in this particular place and time.

You’ve invested yourself heavily in these relationships – as has everyone else to varying degrees. We all have expectations of each other – and when those are not met, the seeds of conflict are planted. Left unaddressed these small seeds can grow into a garden of weeds that choke out the healthy dialog needed to restore the relationship. The longer the situation goes untended, the greater the issue(s) magnify – until the weeds have taken over the garden and any hope of bearing fruit has been squeezed out entirely.

Is it possible to avoid conflict entirely? In a word, no. We’re too “human” to hope for that.

Can we transform and redeem conflict from a destructive force to one in which all parties come through the other side, better for the experience? In a word, yes. We’re children of a loving Father, and His love can see us through any level of conflict.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Discover Your Conflict Management Style, by Speed B. Leas

Speed B. Leas helps readers to assess their conflict response and discover options appropriate to different levels of conflict.

He draws on years of experience helping conflicted congregations to provide valuable insights on the nature of conflict and its resolution, making this an excellent tool for raising self-awareness and a practical introduction to conflict management.

This new edition contains an improved Conflict Strategy Instrument, revised to reflect new learnings and more accurately describe your conflict management style.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

When faced with almost any situation in life, most of us will respond on the basis of how we have handled similar encounters. Our response pattern is also influenced by the issue at hand or the individuals involved. For example, an individual may find controlling the conversation during an argument works best with his spouse. That same pattern will usually be taken in similar conflicts with others.

This “conflict management style” may be intentionally or unintentionally selected. It may also change depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the conflict.

If you accept the principle that conflict is a part of life, and that, over time, we adopt specific conflict management styles, then the natural progression delivers this: Identifying and understanding our conflict management styles will usually help us work through conflicts in a quicker and more satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved.

Understanding your conflict management style will help you become more comfortable with differences and encourage open and confident sharing of differences and concerns with one another.

This instrument identifies six different styles for managing differences: Persuading, Compelling, Avoiding/Accommodating, Collaborating, Negotiating, and Supporting.

Each can be an appropriate style, and none should be thought of as “bad” or inferior. A certain style can cause a problem when it is used inappropriately, but one should not assume that Avoiding is always wrong or that all conflicts must be confronted.

Persuasion strategies are those where a person or group attempts to change another’s point of view, way of thinking, feelings, or ideas. One attempting to persuade another uses rational approaches, deductive and inductive argument, and any other verbal means she thinks will work to convince the other that her opinion is the one that should prevail.

Most of the Compelling we experience in our day-to-day lives is not through the use of physical force but that which comes through the use of authority. Authority is the right we give to a person or group to make certain decisions for us – because it is expedient or because we can’t agree. Authority comes through a tacit or explicit contract we make with others.

When one Avoids a conflict, one evades or stays away from it, attempting to skirt it or keep it from happening. Ignoring a conflict is acting as if it weren’t going on. Fleeing is actively removing yourself from the arena in which conflict might take place. When you accommodate, you go along with the other, with the opposition. Procrastination is a common strategy used to avoid, ignore, or accommodate. Putting off dealing with the conflict may be the most common way that this set of strategies is used.

Collaborative conflict strategies are frequently touted as the best or only strategy to use when dealing with conflict. When one collaborates, one co-labors, works together, with others on the resolution of the difficulties that are being experienced.

Negotiating refers to a strategy that is very similar to Collaboration, except that the expectations of the parties are lower as they enter the conflict arena. People who use Negotiation are trying to get as much as they can, assuming that they will not get everything they want.

Often called communication skills or active listening, Support strategies assume that the other is the one with the problem. It is your task NOT to take responsibility for dealing with it, but to help the other deal with the problem.

Speed B. Leas, Discover Your Conflict Management Style

A NEXT STEP

Use the following team exercise to help everyone understand the different types of conflict management styles.

Create a fictional congregational situation that has the potential for being divisive. Develop a back-story and supporting characters.

Ask each member of your team to undertake one of the six types of conflict management styles listed above. If you have more than six on your team, partner up with others so there are six groups.

With the fictional situation in mind, allow 15 minutes for each group to develop a brief presentation for the rest of their group, based on their assigned conflict management style. The presentation should include highlights or bullet points written on a chart tablet.

When everyone has completed their work, have each group present their work to the entire team.

After each team has made their presentation, enter into a team discussion, working through each of the six conflict management styles. Ask individual team members to share which of the six they are most comfortable using, and which is most uncomfortable.

In closing, challenge the team to review and keep in mind these six conflict management styles as they lead their individual teams.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix Issue 66-2, issued May 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.