Leadership never happens in a vacuum. We lead people, which means we have to have a relationship with them. Building these relationships is like building capital we can draw on when we want to challenge people to move forward in some new ways. If we don’t take the time to make these connections, any changes we institute will be short-lived and will certainly not last beyond our tenure. The force for human togetherness is a powerful one, and leaders ignore it at their peril. In a larger church or organization, we must be well-connected to key players, and find ways to communicate with everyone (preachers, of course, have the pulpit).
At the same time, the leader is not just one of the gang, and has to be prepared to step apart from the group. Leaders have to be able to deal with the anxiety this can produce. We all want to be accepted, and it is lonely to move apart in this way. Ronald Heifetz describes this as the “view from the balcony,” getting above the fray enough to have a wider perspective.
Finding the balance between connecting with people and stepping ahead of them to lead is the ongoing dance of leadership.