Servant Leadership: Practices
“Conduct: Congregational Leadership Grid
– Styles”
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack®
1:3 – Charting Your Course


Objective of this article:
Effective servant leadership today requires tested leadership options. As
introduced in SL#67, “Congregational
Leadership Grid – Concepts,” these five leadership styles are based
on the content and context of servant leadership. The styles are also supported
by a study of contemporary concepts, behavior patterns, and other interactive
factors. Now, Five Congregational Leadership Styles:

1. Passive Leadership Style–Congregational

  • 2, low concern for congregational performance and
    mission results; little energy toward tasks
  • ,2 low concern for people, for members, coworkers
    and relationships; distancing from people
  • 3-D gives little or no attention to congregational situations
    or systems; doesn’t ask the question, “Why?”

    Passive (2,2) expresses servant leadership only

  • when taking time to recover from illness or exhaustion
  • when withdrawing from “24-7” work schedule
  • when retreating–spiritual renewal, meditation, regrouping
  • when a relationship just isn’t within your limited
  • when you lack the necessary skill-set for a task
  • when the task simply isn’t worth doing
    Note: This is not an effective primary style for congregational
    leadership, although it may have limited values as suggested above.
  • So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See,
    here is what belongs to you.
    –Matt. 25:25

Similar Styles–focusing most often on the negative:
  • 1,1 Impoverished Management (B/MGrid) exerting minimum
    effort to do required work, or to sustain organizational membership; fears
    being abandoned but tries to “hang on”
  • 1/1 Passive Paralytic (White), low expression of both authority
    and servanthood; “just let it happen”
  • “Hermit”–the Eroding Style: (Dale) withdrawing
    from people and work; negative about people needs and passive about congregational
    mission achievement
  • Also, “non-leadership”–inaction, uncaring,
    bankrupt leadership

Key to attribution in the text
(also, see Bibliography/Reference Section)
(CLGrid) Congregational Leadership Grid – Elder
(B/MGrid) The New Managerial Grid – Blake &
(White) Christian Leadership Grid – Ernest O. White
(H/B) Situational Leadership – Hersey & Blanchard
(Dale) Congregational Leadership Model – Robert Dale
(House) Path-Goal Theory of Leadership – House
3-D “Third-Dimension” situations – Elder

2. Directive Leadership Style–CLGrid 8,2

  • 8, high concern for congregational
    performance and achieving mission results; task orientation
  • ,2 low concern for people, for relationships with
    members and coworkers; for maturity or development
  • 3-D gives incomplete, short-term assessment of changing
    situations, systems, or environment

    Directive (8,2) expresses servant
    leadership sometimes:
  • when focusing on a specific task within a new context
  • when a coworker is new and has not yet proven maturity:
    readiness, ability, willingness, or confidence
  • when a task is technical or very prescriptive
  • when a coworker is in a new position, or has a major change
    in assignment
  • when a coworker has low performance and needs skill or
    behavior training and improvements
  • when a new or existing team needs a “jump start”
    in the right direction within a given time frame
  • when there is an emergency among the coworkers or within
    the congregational situation: legal, moral, etc.

    Similar Styles–even if negative factors:
  • 9,1 Authority-Obedience Style (B/MGrid): high on production
    (9), and low (1) on people, efficiency in operations results from arranging
    conditions of work in such a way that human elements interfere to a minimum
    degree; fear of failure, seeks mastery
  • 12/1 Divine-Authoritarian (White): claims spiritual truth
    as basis of authority for leadership; does not emphasize servanthood; concerned
    chiefly with getting God’s work done; often a “benevolent dictator”
  • S1 Telling Style (H/B): a directive leadership style, providing
    specific instructions and closely supervising performance; when the coworker
    has low maturity readiness–unable, unwilling and insecure.
  • Commanders–the Efficient Style (Dale): active/negative,
    active toward emphasizing congregational mission; negative, aggressive toward
    people, overpowering others; often getting what they want in the short run
  • Path Goal Directive (House): lets subordinates know what
    is expected and how to get there

3. Supportive Leadership Style–CLGrid

  • 2, low concern for congregational goals, performance
    and mission results; little energy toward tasks
  • ,8 high concern for individual
    persons, coworkers, teams and relationships; mutual warmth and respect
  • 3-D gives attention to personal situational dynamics, more
    to “family systems” than to organizational “systems thinking”;
    likes one-on-one perspective

    Supportive (2,8) expresses servant
    leadership often:
    even essential in congregational leadership for
    many of its leaders, coworkers, and functions:
  • serving the servants, encouraging coworkers
  • acting in the best interest of others, not self
  • pastoral caring, nurturing, counseling attention to persons,
    families, and groups
  • attention within groups to relationships rather than task
    issues; seeks to involve others
  • celebrating improvements, attainments and victories
  • spiritual direction: teach, develop, with rejoicing and
  • building authentic, caring congregational fellowship
  • providing an example of an accepting, believing, quiet
    presence even in troubled times
    Similar Styles–sometimes focusing on the negative:
  • 1,9 Country Club Management (B/MGrid): low (1) on concern
    for congregational performance and results; high (9) on consideration for
    people and relationships; thoughtful attention to the needs of people for
    satisfying relationships leads to a comfortable, friendly organization atmosphere
    and work tempo; fears rejection, seeks warmth and approval
  • 1/12 The Submissive-Servant Leader (White): low (1/) on
    authority, high (/12) on servanthood; overwhelming desire to please everyone,
    relationships protected at all costs
  • Encouragers, the Empathic Style (Dale): passive-positive
    is warm, trusting, approachable; submissive with people; praised as selfless,
    often controlled by others; goals and production may be a necessary evil
  • Path-Goal Supportive (House): shows concern for the needs
    of subordinates; makes the work more pleasant and is friendly and approachable

4. Participative Leadership Style–CLGrid

  • 5, moderate concern for performance,
    for mission results, but not beyond group agreement or willingness
  • ,5 moderate concern for people,
    for member relationships, but not to the extent of high expectation, trust,
    or development; low risk level; small gains, small losses
  • ,5 could be called consensus, constituency-centered, democratic,
    or compromising leadership style. I have sometimes called this “the
    committee leadership style,” or “keeping everyone equally satisfied”
  • 3-D usually gives attention to the immediate situation in the congregation
    (or one of its systems)–or to a specific issue or task at hand; does not
    usually take the longer or deeper look; pursues a specific job assignment

    Participative (5,5) expresses servant leadership

  • when seeking to build consensus around a specific project or issue; listening
    to people for their ideas so you can make better or more accepting decisions
  • when sharing a task or responsibility between staff and lay leaders: committees,
    teams, councils; expressing democratic participation: calendar, budgeting,
  • when pursuing an effort to work with people at their current readiness
    level; being inclusive in a group with members at differing maturity levels
  • when training and developing coworkers to take responsibility for task
    and mission results, and people concerns
  • when risks, impact, and methodology are at limited levels; or options are
    being developed and tried
  • when team morale is part of the task, if not its most significant element
  • when following church policy or procedure to get the assigned task done
  • when “finding out where people want to go, then getting out in front
    to lead them” (pretty close to some “benevolent dictators”)

    Similar Styles–some negative:

  • 5,5 Organization-Man Style (B/MGrid): moderate concern for production
    (5,) and people (,5); adequate organization performance is possible through
    balancing the necessity to get out work while maintaining morale of people
    at a satisfactory level; fear of being embarrassed, need to be popular; middle-of-the-road
  • 6,6 People Pleaser Style (White): employs some servanthood and some
    authority according to what people want or will approve; conflict is not acceptable,
    and decisions are by consensus and/or compromise
  • S2 Selling Style (H/B): this leader asks coworkers for input, provides
    for clarification, makes the decision and sells it; when coworkers have moderate
    task readiness (R2), unable but willing or confident to do the work
  • S3 Participating Style (H/B): this leader provides encouragement and growth;
    shares ideas and facilitates decision-making; when coworker has moderate maturity,
    task readiness (M3)–able but unwilling and/or insecure
  • Path-Goal Participative Style (House): consults with subordinates and takes
    their suggestions for consideration when making decisions and setting goals

5. Transformative Leadership Syle–CLGrid 8,8

The CLGrid 8,8 – transformative leadership style,
draws upon contingency styles “transforming” or “transformational”
discussed in leadership material. Leaders throughout the congregation–but especially
those “to whom much is given, much is required”–should consider
it as a preferred choice and practice. It embraces the content of servant leadership
but still draws upon the other four CLGrid styles based on situation factors:
mission, values, goals, tasks, people, and systems. Now, let’s continue
our interpretation:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect
–Romans 12:2

  • 8, gives high concern for performance in achieving
    the congregation’s mission results; goals are set that are challenges
    and move the congregation in that direction; personal and congregational goals
    are clearly identified, integrated, and expressed as a stewardship
  • ,8 gives high concern for people,
    and measures member relationship by the high standard of biblical–“koinonia
    fellowship”; and “agape love” goes beyond warmth, friendliness,
    and satisfaction to mutual respect, trust, development, caring, and high expectation
  • 3-D gives careful consideration to the “third dimension”–
    the congregation’s systems, situations and environment, and the impact
    one change has within other systems
  • Transformative Leadership Style–expresses elements of
    other kindred styles, such as: transforming, transformational, collaborative,
    visionary, mission-centered, charismatic, effective, strategic, courageous,
    systems, team/partnership–yes, even Christian, spiritual, or kingdom leadership
  • Transformative leadership: one who commits people to
    action, who converts followers into leaders, and who may convert leaders
    into agents of change.
    –Bennis, Leaders, p.3

    . . . is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain
    it . . . it is the wise use of power.
    Bennis, Leaders, p.14

  • 8,8 expresses servant leadership consistently and
    with greatest impact when it:
    • creates and communicates a vision among members of the congregation and
      reflects the power of their ownership and passion; paints a challenging
      dream for the future
    • helps to define the realities, challenges, and opportunities of a servant
    • inspires the membership and its leadership to live and work together
      as servants of the Lord
    • seeks to transform the congregation’s membership, resources, and
      culture into its mission achievement
    • reflects choices, situational in that 8,8 transformative leadership stays
      in touch with other CLGrid styles, different situations, systems and coworker
      task readiness
    • develops members into servants, servants into leaders, and leaders into
      servant teams, providing continued learning, growing experiences; takes
      risks, learning from them
    • delegates toward coworkers who are able, willing, and confident to accept
      work tasks and people relationships
    • accepts change and conflict as normal and potentially beneficial to strengthen
      relationship and achieve goals
    • provides a symbolic frame of reference for the congregation on its spiritual
    • tells the stories of the church and its members, its past and present,
      its sorrows and joys, its failures and successes–its preparedness for today’s

Similar Styles to 8,8 Transformative–considered by most
practitioners as the most effective, but not the only one-best style for every
situation; (B/MGrid) sometimes raises unrealistic expectations or is over-complex.

  • 9,9 Team Management Style: high concern (9) for production and for
    people; work accomplishment is from committed people, interdependence through
    a “common mistake” in organizational purpose leads to relationships
    of trust and respect
  • 12/12 Body Leader Style (White): high concern for authority and for servanthood
    (12) expresses a healthy balance between authority, service, respect for others,
    and a good sense of relationship to self and to the Lord
  • S4 Delegating Style (H/B): this leader style provides larger goal direction,
    turns over responsibility for decisions and implementation; when coworker
    has high maturity/readiness (M4) –when able, willing and confident
  • Catalyst–the Effective Style (Dale): active toward mission tasks, positive
    toward members; participates in the process but is not consumed by it
  • Path-Goal Achievement-Oriented Style (House): emphasizes excellence in
    performance and displays confidence that subordinates will assume responsibility
    and accomplish challenging goals

Reflection/Assessment/Application of This Grid:
Congregational Leadership Grid provides five optional leadership styles/behavior
patterns. They are interactive, but distinctive; each is valid in certain circumstances,
but not equally valuable as a primary style; they are presented in concept but
also in specific application. But now, it’s up to you. How will you make your
choices and establish your pattern of effective leadership? How will you chart
your own course?

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© 2006; hosted and
copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church