Most congregations invest the time of both staff and volunteers in meetings – governing boards, teams, committees, work groups. Some meetings are exciting, energizing and worthwhile. And others? Well . . . .
At a recent lunch program in southwest Indiana, presenter Elissa Bakke shed some light on four different styles typically around the table at any meeting – four styles that can work together synergistically, or clash with one another and prevent the group from making progress. See if you can recognize yourself and your meeting colleagues in this description:
- Generators are the meeting participants who have lots of ideas and like to get things started. They generate possibilities. “Let’s start a new service,” one might say.
- Conceptualizers are those who think through the ideas and like putting them together. They favor background work and research. “What kind of data do we have about people’s service preferences,” the conceptualizer might ask. “What do experts say about starting a new service?”
- Optimizers are the participants who like to turn the abstact into the practical. "How would that good idea actually work? What is possible?" he or she would ask. “There’s already too much happening on Sunday morning,” the optimizer might say. “We need to plan a new service for Saturday afternoon or Sunday evening. And we’ll need good publicity.”
- Implementers like to get things done. They are ready to move forward, take action, implement what the group is discussing. “Let’s just do it!” says the implementer.
Imagine these four styles gathered around the table, moving counter clockwise from #1 to #4, wonderful ideas generated, researched, optimized and implemented.
But if it doesn’t always go so smoothly in your group, consider that #1 and #3 may be at odds --- the people with lots of great ideas get tired of the people who ask, “But how would that work? Is it practical?” And the people who are ready to implement and get things done don’t like hearing from the folks who want to do more research.
As Elissa Bakke advised workshop participants, all four points of view are necessary for an effective team. If one of those perspectives is missing or if one is overly dominant, try rebalancing your group – make sure everyone’s perspective is being heard or invite some new voices to join the conversation. And when you put a new team together, think about who you might invite to make sure all four styles are represented.
For more ideas on effective meetings in your congregation, contact the Center for Congregations for resources.