Leadership presents itself in many forms. In personality and style it is as varied as the people who fill the lead position in churches and ministries across the country. Yet there are certain characteristics that leaders share.
My husband is a strong leader who has an introverted, melancholy temperament. He never seeks to be the life of the party nor wastes time with trivial pursuits. He carefully plans his strategy, is comfortable with solitude, is companioned by mediation and speaks seldom b ut boldly—when he has something to say.
Now, I am a leader too—but one of a different kind. I like to be noticed when entering a room, and solitude for any length of time, for me, is lonely. I speak about any subject as an expert whether I know about it or not.
People are my life. I. love to be involved. When Larry and I relax for an evening of reading, I always interrupt his absorbed state, reading aloud the important points in my book.
Though we are opposite in personality and approach, we still share common characteristics with all leaders. Understanding these distinctives has made living together a lot more pleasant.
1. Leaders have followers. Life with a leader always includes other people. A common way to deal with a leader's "other people" is to become possessive and try to limit his or her relationships. Another is to isolate yourself and remain uninvolved and non-participatory in the leader's activities.
Both of these options should be rejected since they only exacerbate the problem. Though you must schedule times alone with your spouse, the only true solution is to appreciate that your leader has others who are willing to follow and to participate as much as possible in the leadership area of his or her life.
2. Leaders have time demands. Schedules and deadlines are all part of the system a leader creates to reach his or her goals. Therefore, a spouse should seek to keep accurate calendars of dates and times so he or she can approach each day with a feeling of preparedness rather than chaos.
Communicate daily concerning your schedules and make adjustments for togetherness whenever possible. Don't allow time demands to cause you to lead separate lives.
3. Leaders are focused. There is little room for spontaneity when living with a leader. Leaders are focused on their goals; schedules predetermine their activities. When you talk to focused people, you usually have only portion of their attention—their minds are always preoccupied, their attention span short, much like a child.
Don't take this personally. Rather, use several brief intervals of conversation rather than pursuing a lengthy dissertation. This way you are more likely to keep your leader's interest.
4. Leaders work with staff. Leaders are accustomed to giving direction to a group of people working with them to implement their vision. They are in authority, and those on their team usually do not question that fact.
However, when leaders come home, they often continue to treat family as staff. It helps to give a leader time for transition from the work environment to the family environment. You can help by creating a soft, warm ambiance—unlike the office—with music, candles, fragrance or other environmental props, avoiding noise and confusion.
5. Leaders carry stress. Leadership has stress points that are not always definable. Some things can be talked about but others are not quite so clear.
Pressures and concerns that cannot be talked about can alter his or her mood. Don't pile on more, but help carry the load.
6. Leaders can be wrong, too. As my mother always said, "What's so bad about being wrong?" Yet leaders feel such a responsibility to others that it is sometimes difficult for them to accept that they could be wrong, especially if their mistake could hurt those who they are leading.
Therefore, they tend to want to cover their mistakes or justify them. Give your leader room to say, "I am wrong" without fear or rejection or criticism. This attitude does wonders for providing the confidence to try again. *