9 Connectors: Leaders don’t need to be the hub through which everything flows, and they know how to help people come together for specific (and general) purposes; they can connect people to ideas, to each other, and to a greater whole.
Have you ever had a friend suggest you meet someone because they thought the two of you would benefit from getting to know each other, maybe because of a shared interest? If so, then you know what a connector is. And if you’ve ever made a similar suggestion to a friend, then you have been a connector yourself.
Connectors are people who bring other people together. Think of the Medici family during the 1500s. Fran Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, notes how a diverse group of painters and poets, sculptors and scientists, philosophers and financiers who were brought together under the patronage of the Medicis helped shape the Renaissance.
The current changes in the religious landscape in America offer the potential for a renaissance in liberal religion. We need connectors to help gain fresh insights on how we do church. And being a congregational leader in the 21st century means knowing that those insights might come from almost anywhere.
According to Charles Araujo, you can learn how to be a connector by doing three things. First, you need to get out of your comfort zone. That means “purposefully putting yourself in a situation where you will meet people who look at the world differently than you do.”
Second, once you’ve stretched yourself, you need to get out of your box and “open your mind to whatever may come.”
And finally, you need to get out of the way. Once you’ve connected people from different backgrounds and disciplines, you need to step back and let them explore the possibilities. Leave it to them from there.
An openness to a diversity of ideas and opinions is a hallmark of our Unitarian Universalist faith. Connectors, says Araujo, “are able to bring us together so that we can combine our unique perspectives and expertise to create something larger than ourselves.”
Phillip B. Lund
Congregational Life Consultant, MidAmerica Region