Leadership Styles III: Deep or Wide?

Case-Study-Analysis-Eastern-and-Western-Management-and-Leadership-StylesWe’re talking about Leadership Styles.  We’ve looked at:

*Raging Waters or Calm Water: What kind of water do you prefer?

*Settler or Pioneer: How do your gifts and strengths define you?

Today I want to ask a really simple question:  Do you prefer to go DEEP or do you prefer to go WIDE?

While there are many applications to this questions, let’s focus today on relationships.  I’ll re-phrase the question:

In thinking about your leadership, do you prefer to go really deep with a handful of people in DEEP relationship, or do you prefer to go WIDE by having many relationships that might not be so deep?

Here’s the thinking:

Many times in leadership we have to make choices, especially when it comes to growing an organization, developing a leadership team, and leveraging our time and energy.  Some people are able to have a healthy balance of both DEEP and WIDE. Some have a clearly defined style.  Let me define them a little more:

When you go DEEP:

*You spend a lot of time with a few people

*You develop deep trust, deep relationship

*You have to say no sometimes to new relationships because you don’t have the bandwidth

*You are sometimes accused of having favorites because you spend so much time with a few

*People that are outside the “circle” feel left out

*The people you are DEEP with are effective.  They’re empowered, developed and given opportunities.

Does this sound like you? Have you worked with someone like this before?

When you go WIDE:

*You spend a little time with everyone

*You know many people, your network is large

*You are energized by meeting new people and developing new relationships

*Nobody feels left out

*You tend to carry a heavy burden because you don’t have people close enough to you to help

*People want to know the “real you”

Does this sound like you? Have you worked with someone like this before?

Again, as we talk about styles, there’s no right or wrong answer. We simply have some tendencies, and I think it’s important to think about and to identify weaknesses and strengths and to remind us that there is another way.

I remember in my early days of youth work, I wanted to go deep with all the students in our group. I quickly realized that this was impossible, but I tried it again and again, then when I pulled back, the students were hurt. I couldn’t maintain that many relationships. I didn’t have the time or the energy.  I then identified a handful of young leaders that I could invest in. We spent a lot of time together, developed deep relationship, and many of those I am still in relationship with 20 years later. I was accused of having favorites and of not caring for all the students. This was a hard place to be, so I had to develop other adults to invest into the lives of other students. Then we had some growth and leverage.

How do you manage your organization? Do you try to do everything together? Do you want everyone to feel that they have access to you as the leader? Do you want everyone to be a part of every decision? How you answer this will define the size and scope of your organization and of your impact.

As a leader, there are times that I need to be able to go DEEP and there are times I need to be able to go WIDE. I need to figure out how to do that and how to find that balance. If I were honest with you, I tend to go WIDE more often. I value the network, I am energized by new relationships and I’ve had so much transition in my life, it’s difficult to go deep with a lot of people.  This means I need to work hard at the DEEP. I need to identify people who I can go to a different level with and I have to work at it.

What about you? Where do you land?

There’s a great children’s song I sang at church forever… “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” This song talks about the Love of God and the incredible depth of that love and the width of that love. I will never comprehend this kind of love, but I’m really thankful for it.

I’d like to be able to go a little bit deeper and a little bit wider.

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