The Science Behind Effective Ministry Leadership: 3 Tips to Help You Navigate the Crossroads of Results & Relationships

Effective leaders shoulder a lot of responsibility. They are responsible to shareholders for financial results. They are responsible to clients for quality and service. And they are responsible to employees for guidance, support and recognition. Mangers are presented with a leadership crossroads when asked to balance external expectations with anticipated results. It can be stressful; even the best of us sometimes shift from coaching and supporting to anger, judgment and blaming.

But there’s a better way for leaders to deliver results and strengthen relationships than exerting tighter control, conveying disappointment, or taking over projects that have failed to meet targets. How?

Get closer to your team, engage it in problem solving, be transparent, and share your concerns.

The Science Behind Effective Leadership

Anger activates our fear networks and releases the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol, which blocks access to areas of the brain that govern advanced thought processes like strategic thinking. Fear engages the amygdala, the primitive part of our brain responsible for memory and emotional reactions, which triggers a “fight or flight” response. A leader whose actions provoke fear in others may unwittingly shut down team members’ creative and strategic capacities.

Healthy relationships serve to release oxytocin, another hormone and neurotransmitter. Unlike cortisol, which closes neural pathways, oxytocin opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex. Cortisol enables leaders to successfully manage the expectations, motivations and efforts of all stakeholders and to co-create optimal solutions. That allows teams to experiment with new ways of doing business—and to grow together.

So, the next time you find yourself having to decide between results at all costs or aligning your energies with others on the road to mutual success, consider these leadership tips:

  • Manage disappointment by seeking to understand shortcomings without judgment and by enlisting your team in collaborative problem solving.
  • Set goals and expectations with your team. Discover where they want to go and make sure they have an opportunity to weigh in on the plans and commitments they are going to be held responsible for. Make it safe for people to be honest—to freely share their thoughts, concerns and perspectives.
  • Allow others to shine. Hang back, listen up, and let others jump in to take the lead. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Leaders that are guided by both their heads and their hearts—and the energy and aspirations of their team—are more likely to optimize outcomes, even in the face of tough challenges and underperformance. It’s not rocket science, it’s neuroscience.

Choose the constructive response the next time you find yourself at a leadership crossroad between results and relationships.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Judith Glaser

Judith Glaser

Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of six books, including Creating WE (Platinum Press, 2005) and Conversational Intelligence (BiblioMotion, 2013), and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

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Yea! You fixed it!
 
— Mr. Troy Reynolds
 
I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
 
— Troy Reynolds
 
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 

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