I like leading people. I feel like there are moments that I do this well. It happens naturally most of the time. So, it’s easy then to sit back and lean more on my past seasons of influence, as well as, my current management/pastoral titles. With all honesty, I think I just hit a season of busyness with work (being bi-vocational), ministry, family, hobbies, etc. and just shifted by default into cruise mode. Now, we are aware that Mr. Newton conveyed the intrinsic idea that “Every object in a state of motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” That about sums up where I woke up to find myself…in motion, but not necessarily with the right motion. Without realizing it, I had successfully dug the proverbial ruts that keep directing us down a path of comfortable and convenient leadership. At which point (as Mr. Newton says), we need a good dose of “reality check” from others who can speak into our lives. I am proud to say that at this moment in time, I have those kind of people around me. Other leaders in my church who can call me on the carpet and light a fire under my seat. Obviously my amazing wife, Missy, is one of them, but she isn’t the only one. So, truthfully realizing the imperfection and drastic need to improve my leadership level came as a reviving shock. You know, like a body laying dormant right before the pads are laid on the torso and the word, “Clear” is uttered. Electricity starts coursing through you, blood starts pumping, oxygen fills the lungs… And it’s in that moment that you can choose as a leader to embrace the opportunity presented. To become a better version of “you” or at least attempt it. For me, I decided to step up to the challenge, and yes, embrace the external force colliding with my comfortable leadership style. For one thing, my alarm is going off an hour earlier every morning and intentional time is given to developing this important area of my life. It’s not easy…especially after a late night, but I know I have to. I’m driven towards it because, after all, leading others in the same manner I have done in the past will continue to get the same results unless I change!
To be transparent with you, that’s where I have been, and that is where I am at currently. And out of this craving to be a better version of myself, I am asking those around me on our lead team this simple question: “What do you see that I could do better?” The response I received the other day from one of Highway’s pastors echoed what Missy and I had already been discussing. And then on my drive back from that meeting in Denver to Boulder, it hit me, I’m a “Mullet Leader”! Ok, so I can’t say that I have ever heard that phrase used at a Catalyst or ARC Conference. Maybe I’ve just coined it, but that’s the thought that shot through my brain on Interstate 25. And yes, I am talking ‘mullet’ in the Billy Ray Cyrus, red neck #mypeople sense of the word that found culture relevance back in the 80s and 90s. Of course that was a reality for yours truly during high school. Sadly, at the time we were convinced that we were cool, and all of us who once embraced it are now grateful for the shift in culturally relevant hair styles!
This is where it applies to me and other leaders I know: the mullet was systematically described with the punchline “Business in the front, party in the back.” That has been my leadership style! All too often I am guilty of leading with ‘business’ not ‘relationship’. Somehow I forget that the person I am meeting with is just that…a person. Someone full of emotion, highs and lows, dreams and ambitions and constantly processes the relationships in their lives. As a high D, choleric personality style, I can get the job done. I like to get the job done. I can even convince others to help get the job done. But at what cost if I lose them along the way? Maybe some of you are like this too. Task oriented and perfection driven…a ‘Get R Done’ kind of leader. So here’s what I’m working to change: to lead with soul care first. To know, as Dr. Kevin Leman’s book, The Way of the Shepherd says that “You have to really care about your people.” Because most of us do care. Yes, we care about the task being done, but we truly do care about those GETTING the task done. Some of us just don’t naturally know how to express it…to lead with it. Of course, the business task aspect is important, but I’m learning not to lead my team members with that first. Let’s let our “Mullet Leadership” be a thing of the past. Embrace the change.