10 Collaborators: Leaders know how to work and play well with others; they understand it’s not about who is right, but how people can work together to ensure the best possible outcome in both task completion and relationship building/sustaining.

Leaders in the future are going to be collaborators. They will understand that working with others builds a sense of ownership in problem-solving and future direction, and they will actively seek out others for conversation and discernment about issues that matter. Congregations that have successfully completed projects or have raised money for a building of their own have learned that inviting members involvement in every stage of the planning is essential to reaching the end goal.

Collaboration works!

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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.

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8 Networked: leaders are networked in a couple of ways — first, they are aware of how community can be created, sustained, and nurtured through the use of technology; they realize that today on-line connection serves to deepen what a congregation can offer; second, they are not afraid of technology, and know how to learn through electronic means, and are able to find what they need, or find the person who knows, what they need moving forward…

How can we be 21st century leaders without taking part in the social network revolution?

When congregations endeavor to explore their vision and mission, they often hold workshops to explore the bigger, deeper questions of “why” they exist and “what” is the difference they are seeking to make in their greater community. The “why” and “what” questions often reveal that many of our congregations have a decidedly inward focus, and are missing the revolution of social networking which is happening all around them. Inevitably, as all human systems do, there is a gravitational pull to deal with that which feels most urgent, whether that is exploring the move to two services (due to a lack of space), or wondering why there are so many Sunday visitors who don’t come back. Many of the answers to these questions, which are often framed as problems, indicate a need for leaders to grow their skill base in understanding how communities are created, sustained and nurtured through the use of technology.

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7 Radically welcoming of various diversities, including neurodiversity: Leaders understand that what they might want may not be what others want, and they are open to learning and understanding how the world is different for other people; they understand, too, that those who have been historically marginalized have places in our congregations, and our congregations need to expand their understanding of who is welcome in order to open wide the doors to those who find value in Unitarian Universalism

What does it mean to be radically welcoming?

When folks who have never heard about UUism find their way into our congregations, for many it’s a sudden “I’m home!” feeling. And that’s often accompanied by the question “Why didn’t anyone tell me about UUism before?” Being radically welcoming means that we understand that we are a great religious fit for many people, and that we’re not just willing to “let in” those who are “like us,” but we find ways to make sure that we welcome all people fully.

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6 Self-differentiated Leaders know who they are well enough that they also know where they stand, and what they will and will not do; they understand the necessity of boundaries, and work within the congregation to ensure that healthy boundaries are in place and are supported; they can be clear in who they are, without requiring others to join them in that same place, but instead to be true to their own self.

Self-differentiation is a term crafted by family systems thinker Murray Bowen in the early 1960s. In his studies of how families interacted with one another, Bowen noticed that some people were more able to distinguish themselves from their own families, and some less able to do that. Those who could had the ability to make decisions that were independent of the emotional pull of their families. While they were influenced by their emotional ties, they were able to act independently. Self-differentiated people were also able to separate their feelings from their thoughts and actions.

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