You are Not Alone

by | August 7, 2023 | Espresso

Leadership can be lonely.

I was at the end of myself. I remember sobbing and trying to put my thoughts into sentences. I was speaking on the phone to a friend 16,000 kilometers away. He was absent but present. He patiently listened and reflected with me. He also questioned me and helped me find clarity. He prayed with me and inspired me to keep obeying Jesus.  

Fast forward one year, the Covid-19 pandemic produced a hurricane of disappointments for me, my wife, and my leadership team. People were leaving the church for ‘whatever reasons’. All the prayer, time, work, and sacrifice were undone with a text message, a two-line email, a brief phone call, or silent departure. I was sad beyond description.

I was in grief. I was stuck. I needed someone to talk to.

I reached out for help and discovered I was not alone. Our situation at church was not unique. After a series of significant coffee conversations with a few leaders who understood our situation, I gradually found perspective. Their wisdom and experience helped me get unstuck

I am truly blessed with an amazing wife who is not only my best friend and closest ministry colleague, but likewise a capable leader. However sometimes we need more than a familiar voice of reason. We need an authentic, contrary, paradigm-shifting, kick up the pants! We need someone to confront our doubts, question our emotions, help us ask a new set of questions, and inspire us to pray and believe again.

Leadership can be lonely, but why? Does it have to be this way? I don’t think so…

Over the years various leadership theories have been propagated and adopted by churches. These include charismatic, transactional, transformational, and servant leadership styles. All have merit.

However, there is currently a demand for polycentric leadership models, such as collaborative and adaptive leadership. Why is this emerging?

Collaborative leadership is emerging from people’s desire to shape the decision-making process. According to leading organisations such as Gallup, Deloitte, and the Arbinger Institute there is exponential distrust toward institutions and their leaders, especially religious and denominational institutions. People are tired of being told what to do by people they do not know, trust, or respect. There is a groundswell of organizations and churches who are restructuring and reframing their vision to create multi-faceted, multi-gifted teams who work together on solving issues.

Adaptive Leadership, like Situational Leadership, has the capacity to harness the best wisdom and experiences from previous leadership learnings from multiple people. Adaptive leaders listen to Jesus the head and builder of the church. They also heed the advice of their colleagues. Adaptive leaders confront the new reality in which they live, they embrace change, pivot their plans, and thrive in obedience.

In essence Adaptive leadership, for the Jesus-oriented leader, is about being Spirit-led. The leader creates what Ronald Heifetz calls a ‘holding environment’; the space and time needed for the team to listen, learn, and discern together. They accept their new reality, embrace change, courageously answer new questions, dispense with previous practices, unlearn habits, and learn new rhythms and practices.

Furthermore, in this post-pandemic VUCA world (i.e. volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) many things cannot be predicted or planned for. Therefore, the nature of strategic planning has changed. In view of this, I have redeveloped a couple of Strategic Planning tools that help leaders and their teams embrace the new realities of their context and navigate a way forward. Read Blog

When our world and personal lives are loaded with ‘un-ness’ (Kenneth Hewitt, 1983); unpredictable, unscheduled, unmanageable, uncertain, unknown, and unwelcome, we need friends who can stand with us. Running mates who will help us interpret our situation, encourage us, and equip us to adapt to our new context.

Stemming from 35+ years of leadership experience, my personalized coaching and mentoring method is designed to help you adapt to new seasons of ministry and leadership. I choose to walk alongside you as a friend and colleague for 12-24 months and help you navigate the next season of life and leadership. Can I help you like my friends helped me? Read About Coaching

Gary Rucci has been serving in christian leadership since 1989. Together with his wife Nikki, also a credentialled minister, he has served in various portfolios in a few of Australia’s largest churches and alongside many influential pastors and not-for-profit leaders. Gary loves to network and collaborate with others across the Body of Christ. Gary and Nikki live in Brisbane and have three adult children.