by Matt McKee
Every person, no matter their job or status or station in life, wants to feel like they are valued and respected. They want to feel like others see them as intelligent and competent. This is a basic human desire, crossing all genders, races, and ages. So when it comes to leadership, it’s important to me to make sure the people I’m leading know that I really do see them as valuable and competent. (Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have them on my team if I didn’t think so!) Because of this, micromanaging people just feels wrong to me. If I think someone is perfectly competent, then why should I tell them how to go about doing their job? Therefore, instead of laying out a list of tasks for a person to accomplish, I prefer to frame it as a problem I’m asking them to solve.
For example, I said to my new assistant “My email inbox is a mess and I can’t keep up with my emails. Can you help me?” That’s all. I didn’t tell her what to do about my problem. I just trustingly put it in her hands and she came up with a great solution. Wow, that was easy!
In general, I try to follow this principle in my own life as well. View things as problems to be solved, not tasks to be done. It helps me think outside the box to find more efficient answers.
For example, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me. Trying to keep up with everything I have to do left absolutely no time for the things I want to do. Rather than just keep slogging through my long to-do lists, losing sleep, missing appointments, and putting off my dreams, I looked at it as a problem to solve. Rather than more hours in the day, what I actually needed was some help. So I hired a personal assistant, and multiplied my own time. Win.
In fact, many companies have become very successful because of their ability to solve problems. Method solves problems around laundry and other household goods. Although many detergents can solve the problem of clean clothes, the problem was that people were using too much and hurting the environment. So Method rethought their formula to make it greener, ultra-concentrated it to reduce packaging, and even innovated the process of adding detergent to the washer to make it more efficient. They were able to solve a huge laundry problem by thinking outside the box.
Another great example would be Dropbox. They solved the problem of getting the same files on all your devices in a way that was simple and easy. Others have tried to replicate it but still not done as well. They solved a problem and because of that they are successful.
I think the church can really learn from the idea of solving problems rather than listing tasks. The world out there has a lot of problems: the need for hope, physical health, material sufficiency, better parenting, better marriages, community and relationships, and of course the problem of getting over ourselves and making life about God instead. In order for the church to be relevant, we need to address those problems rather than just giving people a to-do list of faith.
I also think it’s important, though, to connect this back to my first thoughts about people’s need to feel respected. Yes, the church is addressing their problems, but not in a judgmental way. Rather, in a compassionate and supportive way. The church should NOT say “You need to do this, this, and this to not be so messed up.” Instead, it needs to say “Yes, you have a problem, but everybody has problems. You’re valuable and competent, and by God’s grace and with the support of your faith community, you CAN overcome to live the life God has for you.” Now that’s leadership.
Matt is the CEO of ROAR (www.roar.pro), a mobile software company focused on providing solutions to churches and non-profits. He is also on staff with reThink, in social media, leadership, and marketing communications roles. More importantly, he is a husband of one and father of two.