Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Trying to describe leadership is like having several viewers trying to compare what they see in a kaleidoscope when the mere act of passing the kaleidoscope shakes up its design” (A More Excellent Way pg 20)
This quote is absolutely on target. It’s difficult to classify leadership in a specific box because it’s different for everyone. Really, that’s the essence of LeadingLDS. This website’s purpose is to create a platform for all to explain how they see leadership. From there, we can become better leaders by seeing different perspectives.
The Greatest Elder Quorum President in the Book of Mormon
Alma 43-63 shows remarkable leadership skills by Captain Moroni. If studied closely, one can apply them to church leadership and engage others more effectively.
Here are a few examples of the impact Captain Moroni’s leadership had on his armies (emphasis added):
Alma 43:48: And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage.
Alma 48:7: Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.
Alma 50: Thus Moroni, with his armies, which did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them
Moroni had engaged his armies at a higher level; they would do anything for him. Moroni was able to perceive their intent and then motivate them to stay on task. He built assurance among his people. They knew he wouldn’t let them down, and therefore they wanted to be a part of his cause.
How did he do this? ….I think I have an idea.
Remember these images from a past post?
Leadership doesn’t begin when you receive a title, it begins once you have gained the love and trust of those you lead–much like Moroni did. How do you obtain such trust? Some conclude stern pulpit-pounding will do the trick. “I just need to get these brethren in a room and give it to them straight!” Soon these leaders find themselves with a room full of resentment or empty all together.
Effective PPI’s Create Love and Engagement
So, how did Moroni do it? How did he get so many to dedicated and valiant followers? How do he create a culture where every one in his army felt he love them sincerely, and truly wanted to follow because of a higher cause?
I contend Moroni did this by creating a connection with each individual. He understood them so well, he knew by focusing on their land, liberty, family, and freedom he would inspire them to do great things. By making a connection individually, they would sacrifice for Moroni because he understood them.
In modern church leadership, auxiliary leaders are not big fans of personal 1-to-1 interviews (from what I have heard). These interviews become overwhelming, partly because there can be so many members in a quorum. They can also rank as one of the top awkward interactions in the church. Nobody wants to sit down with a fellow Elder and talk about feelings.
In reality, most leaders aren’t sure what to do during these interviews. The awkwardness stems from awkward questions about personal scripture study and prayer. Many don’t feel comfortable enough to share such information with you. In order to build a trusting relationship with each individual there are three connections that need to be made over time during a PPI.
1. Connect Personally
The context of your first 3-4 interaction with a quorum member may just be about football, or Star Wars, or any other topic they are passionate about. You have to keep it real and understand who they are on a personal level. This is the beginning of trust building. In the mission we called it BRT (Build a Relationship of Trust). The principles still stands in leadership. They aren’t going to open up to you until they feel you understand them as a person, even on a superficial level.
2. Connect Spiritually
Many meetings in the church start with a spiritual thought. Some are better than others, but the point is, to establish a tone for the meeting you need to open a door for the spirit. Personal testimony, accompanied by scripture, can build connections faster than most other methods–especially during a 1-on-1 PPI. This can be awkward if you make it awkward (please don’t cry), but if you simply share some recent spiritual thoughts you have had and then connect it to your testimony, you will find it the source of building trust with those you lead. If you set the tone to have a spiritual interaction with them, they will feel more comfortable sharing their spiritual perspective. It’s stimulates the spirit and brings people closer together.
3. Connect Purposefully
If you jump right into “purpose” on the first interaction you have with those you lead, it can come across as self-serving or fake. “This guy only cares about the numbers of the quorum.” It’s pivotal to establish a personal and spiritual connection first (this may take 2-3 interviews). Just like Moroni, when it comes time to remind them why they are “fighting”, they are most likely to be inspired rather than feeling you are only concerned about your reputation.
Once you have their trust you can talk about home teaching with a mutual goal. You can address specific reason why home teaching may not be happening and then provide solutions. When you both find a mutual purpose and love and trust are present, they will follow you into any war.