I am captivated by Bill Hybels description of the manifestations of leadership, the second of which is “directional.” Directional is a word describing leadership that I don’t believe I have seen in any list of what it means to be a leader. The root word of directional is of course direct. Like most words in the English language the word direct or directional would have more than one meaning. There is a sense in which to be directors is straightforward. But I think Hybels was meaning that a part of the leadership task and responsibility is that of giving direction. Simply stated here’s the direction we need to go and here are steps we need to take in order to move that direction. Let’s explore together the possibilities! Directing does not mean micromanaging! Too many leaders micromanage. Instead of finding, recruiting and training volunteers and paid staff, some leaders are of the opinion it’s just easier to do it all yourself. I have pondered for some time why Hybels included directional as one of the important manifestations of leadership? The vision is the starting place, and someone must explain it in practical terms and then declare “this is were we are going”. Perhaps one of the greatest tests that a leader has is, that of taking the abstract, the inspirational and finding a way to put it into practice, finding the right systems and methods by which to accomplish the vision.
Directional leadership speaks volumes to me about bringing other leadership adjectives into play. I think first on that list may be the word confidence. In Hybels manifestations there are no characteristics or charisma words involved. Directional has nothing to do with whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. It has nothing to do with you being tall and having presence or having a deep resonant voice. Being directional sounds like something that can be learned. I find Hybels manifestations to be encouraging in that it is not beauty or talent or for that matter gifting as nice as these things are, but that you can learn to take something large like a vision and break it down. Breaking the big idea down into intermediate goals, and then finding a way to carry it out step by step. Being directional also communicates that at times you can change direction! After having reviewed the facts and the issues at hand, you decide to direct the entity in a certain direction but shortly after moving in that way if it becomes apparent that something is amiss and it is not working, you must tweak or redirect, because you do not have to keep traveling down the same road. If you are a directional leader, this means if sometimes you realize you are not headed in the correct direction or you are slightly off course then you have to direct the team back on course.
Vigilance is another word that comes to mind when I think of being directional. You cannot work hard on coming up with a God-given vision agreed to by the people and then move on to somethings else. You must be vigilant that you are keeping and following the vision. Constant care must be given that you are headed in the right direction. A part of the job of a leader is to steward the vision. You must make sure that the vision does not slide to the end of the line. There are folks who would love nothing more than to sabotage or hijack the vision. The leader is the one who directs the orchestra. All of the instruments are important but the leader directs discord to cease or to at least be minimized. The leader shows up at practice and practices until the proper direction is clear. I think if more leaders saw themselves as the director, not the boss and not the dictator but the director assisting the various parts of the church to move in the direction of the vision we would see some progress.
If I was a pastor today, I would take inventory of where are we in the process of implementing this vision? How is it being achieved? What can we do better to help achieve the vision? I would ask, am I in danger of allowing some others with strong voices or deep pockets or political connections to run the church? I would have to hold myself accountable and understand that it is my responsibility to see that the vision is directed.
I could fill a notebook with ideas that come to my mind in regard to the manifestation of leadership pertaining to being directional. This is essential in carrying out the vision.