EPISODE #109 – Leadership Judo with Operators
This week the boys have been traveling to and fro, encouraging Pastors and Associations on the road in TX, planning some great stuff in Bob’s home town of STL and sampling the local cuisine. But since you don’t tune in for food alone they get down to another EP on Leadership Judo, discussing the Operator Leadership Style.
Here are some of the highlights of the Operator personalities:
- Operators have a bias toward action
- Operators are often strong internal consultants
- Operators tend to overcommit
- Operators are hard to find
The guys provide some super secret leadership judo moves to use with Operators who are in your church within the heart of this EP.
Leave us your comments, drop us a question and remember to tell others about the Bootcamp!
The Synergist by Les McKeown
STL Sandwich, Gioa’s Deli
Sinaloa’s Breakfast Burrito in TX City
The Truth BBQ in Houston TX
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Hey, we are back at the bootcamp. So excited to be with you guys. I just left the great state of the great nation of Texas. And Bob is now there serving, we’re pitch, hitting for Clifton as he is coming back from COVID and excited to be on here with you.
Bob Bickford: Hey, it’s going to be here. I’m calling you a live from Texas city, Texas. So there you go.
JimBo Stewart: The most Texas thing you could ever do.
Bob Bickford: I think so I’m not wearing a hat or boots today, but I did have a breakfast burrito Jimbo, it was, uh, a shack that was unlit. I was there in the dark at about six 15. And, here’s the good news. There was a cop car in front of me, so I knew it was going to be good.
JimBo Stewart: Exactly.
Bob Bickford: And indeed it was so every, every road trip that I take, I’m a breakfast burrito, connoisseur, and I found the one in Texas city, Texas.
JimBo Stewart: There we go. we do have to talk food for just a moment because we were in [00:01:00] St. Louis together and had a beautiful, beautiful Italian sandwich at, I have no idea how to pronounce this restaurant, which makes me think that’s probably even better, right? Like if you go to an Italian restaurant and you’re not exactly sure.
How to pronounce it. That probably means you’re in the right place.
Bob Bickford: yeah, I think it was jealous and it’s been there a hundred years and, we were doing some replant planning for the hub that’s coming up and, Kyle Bierman was with us and, we were having a good time and, yeah, geo is, was the joint and it’s been there for. A long, long time and we stood in line to get the sandwich and it was good.
JimBo Stewart: Oh, yeah. And then I stood in line again, the next day with Keelan cook. good.
buddy of ours. the Missy ologists that’s been on here a few times. And we went to a place that he had not tried, but he had seen come up in several articles as a contender for best barbecue in Texas. he said multiple times, he’s seen this place come up called the truth.
And let me tell you something, Bob, it’s the truth.[00:02:00]
Bob Bickford: that’s an awesome name, right? So call yourself the truth, barbecue joint. Like you are the standard. I love that is a Texas mentality and
JimBo Stewart: it.
I mean, that’s, that’s a statement when you, when you do that, it’s a statement, but it delivered. It was, that was some really good brisket. I mean, everything, it was all really, everything we had was so good at, and we had some great conversations about. Things God is doing in replanting and revitalization, that, we’re hoping to figure out how to infiltrate seminaries and all sorts of things.
So we did a lot of time dreaming and, and having a good time. And then I got to spend a great time with Jim Turnbow there. Golden triangle Baptist network. He’s doing a great job leading there. but most of all, the highlight of my week, I’m glad to be here, virtual. With the guru, the below average, the beautiful butterfly kisses singing Bob Bedford.
Bob Bickford: well, thanks Jim Bo. we are. Doing a [00:03:00] series on the podcast right now, that is awesome called leadership judo. And we’ve been talking about less than McKeown’s, leadership styles, visionary operator, process processor, synergist. And I love how this helps me think about our team myself in the work that we do.
And we’re going to talk about something that is true of us. We are both visionaries and operating.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: And depending on our role, if we’re solo or for the point guy, or if we’re working on the replant team, we, we kind of swing between both of those roles. And I think, this is my favorite role in terms of, you know, I do like being a visionary, but I think I probably a little bit stronger operator.
and so that comes with some great joys, but also comes with some great challenges because operators can add a lot to an organization, but they can also add some, like any of the personality leadership styles. They can add some craziness. So I’m going to list off some, some highlights, 60,000 foot view, characteristics of a [00:04:00] operator.
and then I think you’re going to add commentary. So we’re kind of going to switch roles. So the podcast a little bit. and I’m going to read this characteristic statement. That’s true of an operator, and then you’re going to make some comments and then I’m going to make a joke or two maybe, and then we’re going to move on.
All right. So you’re ready. Jimbo. Here’s the first one operators have a bias towards action.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, that is absolutely 100% true. Um, I think one of the things that we have to realize talking about both of us being visionary operators, I just want to say this, and in comment to this. What we have learned and less teaches us as well as you cannot wear both hats at once. and, you can’t simultaneously accomplish both things.
And so when you switch and when I switch into operator mode, Bob, nothing drives me more nuts than someone interrupting. On my way to accomplish a task. and, and so the way I’ve said it, this is, this is the Jimbo way [00:05:00] of explaining the mind of an operator, the mind of an operators, always trying to figure out the shortest distance between a.
And done. we are, we’re trying to figure out how do we get this done? And there’s almost a tunnel vision that happens in the sense of everything else around us. Doesn’t really matter right now. You ever seen that, that meme of a guy mowing his yard and there’s like houses on fire behind him. That guy’s an operator.
And he had decided he was going to get the yard done and he had already started cutting it. And then that house caught on fire. I’m just presuming this. It has to be what it is. Right. And he knew he only had five more minutes of cutting. And so he thought I got to finish. Like I I’d. Operators hate, hate leaving something undone.
They don’t want to return to it. They don’t want to come back to it. They want to finish it once they’ve started it. And so they have that tunnel vision. And so they’re going to mow the grass and somebody else will figure out how to get that house. Not on fire. Somebody else had gone on.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. And this [00:06:00] is really challenging for an operator. When they’re they work in a larger setting, like in a startup, it’s a little different, a small staff situation, maybe an agile team. It’s a little bit different. You really want the operator to make things happen, but in a large corporate setting, in a large team, They’re going to be driven nuts by policies and process.
Right. And they’re gonna want to try to figure out every single way to violate that process or ignore that policy. And you specifically have some, some really fun insights into operators and process. So I want you to share those cause you’re sharing, sharing those with me earlier. And I was like, yeah, that’s I can relate.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
So operators are going to specifically do anything they can to get from a, to done as fast as possible. And they kind of do a mental calculus and count the cost of everything. And they’re looking for redundancies that are going to slow them down, or anything like that. And they’re going to eliminate those ruthlessly.
And so. When an operator is doing [00:07:00] that mental calculus and they come across in their brain, a policy or procedure that they’re supposed to follow, but to them slows down the process. They realize this is probably going to get me in trouble, but. It’s going to get the job done and it’s going to get the job done quicker.
And so if I do this process, it’s going to slow me down by two or three days. Whereas the result of me skipping the process will be a 20 minute chewing out in the boss’s office. They just do a mental calculus and they go, okay, I’ll just shave off that. Right. And so I’ll take the 20 minute getting in trouble to speak.
But in the end, in the long run, this thing’s done three days quicker than it would have been, right. Minus the 20 minutes that I had to sit in the boss’s office while he chewed me out. I got it done. Right. And so we, we kind of have to end up building processes for operators. You’re not going to convince an operator to [00:08:00] want to do a process that they don’t understand the purpose of.
And so what I would say is either one, you have to show them, you have to, if you could get them to value what this process accomplishes enough, that when their mental calculus comes across that process, they see it as productive. Then they’ll go with it, right. Or. You have to help them see that the consequences of not following that process actually cost them more than following the process.
And so understand the operator is not going to change their mind because They disappointed you and, you hurt, you know, they hurt your feelings or anything like, like they’re your feelings, don’t come into that calculus. and so in that mental calculus, you have to help them see, Hey, it’s important, but here’s what I’d say, Bob, this is why that enterprise commitment or kingdom commitment that we talk about matters so much.
Right. And so Les has what he calls. The inner, we brought this up every time and I think it has to come up in every [00:09:00] episode. Les has written what he calls the enterprise commitment, which is when working in a team or a group environment, I will make the interest of the enterprise above my personal interest.
I will place the interests of the enterprise above my personal interest. And so what we’ve done in the kingdom commitment is said, when. When working in a team or a group or in the church, we’re going to place the interest of the kingdom of God, the church, both globally and locally above my personal interests.
And so, this, this is the key to help an operator kind of move beyond that Maverick, lone ranger, tunnel, vision thinking, and see, yes, it helps get this task done faster. If I avoid this. But for the good of the team, I’ve got to figure out a way to, to work with this. And so helping them see either the value through enterprise kingdom commitment or helping them see that the consequences of not doing it are going to cost them more than the consequences of doing it.
Bob Bickford: [00:10:00] Yeah. So you’ve just laid down to leadership, judo cards, right. And one is you, and this is kind of the, in Jimbo you’ve, you’ve been in a few street fights. Haven’t you? I mean, you’ve been, you’ve been in a couple before your Christian days, or maybe even after you don’t have to disclose that, but,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, w I will neither confirm nor deny, but there have been, there have been some moments where, pain has been had, and given.
Bob Bickford: Yes. Well, you’ve talked about is in Judah. You may take a posture or a stance where your opponent goes. I’m not going to move on this guy right now, because if I do, he’s going to take me down. And like you just explained in terms of the kingdom commitment and then the pain of proceeding and ignoring the process and the policies being greater.
Those are two things that are going to stop an operator from moving from. Right. And so that’s, that’s a, that’s a combat move that not, does not actually lead to like physical contact in judo. Right. So that’s that, I just did this pose and you [00:11:00] stopped. Right. So I think, you know, when Johnny was fighting Daniel in karate kid, if, if he saw him do that crane move again, he probably would not have moved.
That’s karate, not judo. So I don’t want any commenters telling me that I get a karate illustration.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely.
Bob Bickford: We gotta, we gotta move on to one. Let’s do this. Let’s do this one. Short, operators are strong. Consultants
JimBo Stewart: either strong.
internal consultants. Whenever you have some, a project and you’re trying to move from big picture planning and strategy to actual implementation. And you’re, you’re kind of stuck or trying to figure out how to get there. there are two things that an operator will be able to do very well for you.
On on your team as a consultant, they one will help you figure out how to get the ball moving to action, because they are very driven to action. they are not driven by big sky blue, big blue sky, cloudy thoughts. they love to take those and interpret those into action. And they’re [00:12:00] very good at that, but they’re also very good at identifying redundancies that are unnecessary.
And so they’ll show you, Hey, we’ve done this and then we’re trying to do it again over here. we don’t need to do that over there. We’ve already done it over here. and so they can help point out redundancies and they can help us make sure we move from planning to actual implementation and getting things done.
Bob Bickford: Love it. All right. Here’s here’s a, here’s a unique one. operators may be hard to find.
JimBo Stewart: They’re so focused on getting things done, that they’re going to be wherever. That is happening. so that depends on what role they have in your church, or organization. And so here’s, what’s great about that is if you can know that and understand that, and then make it where you’re not expecting them.
Like if you take an operator and you’re telling him, man, your role is to go disciple young men in our church, but then you also say, but I need you in the office for. 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, four days a week.
they’re going to [00:13:00] hate that.
Bob Bickford: I eat that right now. Jimbo.
JimBo Stewart: I, I, I remember, I can’t remember who it was, but somebody told me a story about how, when they were a pastor, they had a deacon that would, that would drive to the church.
Eight o’clock every morning and make sure that he reported to his office and then drive away. and I thought that’s miserable. Right? One of the first things, when I became a pastor is I told them like, look, I’m not going to be sitting in my office all day. Like if church members want to talk to me, I’ll be glad to talk to them.
I want to, and we can set that up or I can go to their house or whatever. but man, I wanted to be out doing things. And so you’re, you’re not just going to find an offer. You will never find an operator sitting idly. they’re gonna, they’re not going to sit idle for very long. They’re going to get up, they’re going to go do something and if you don’t have tasks for them to do.
And here’s what an important thing to think about in a, especially in a church setting where you’re dealing primarily with volunteers, There’s a chance you will lose an operator from your church. If [00:14:00] you don’t figure out how to harness their operator skills for the good of your church, if you don’t give them some direction, if you don’t use them in some way, and you’re just expecting them to, they’re not going to be the people that are just going to sit in here.
They’re not going to do that. They will not. it’s a matter of fact, here’s you identify your operator? Cause they’re probably not in the small group. they, because they have a really hard time contemplating the idea of sitting in a room and discussing our feelings about scripture for an hour.
and so they will be in the nursery or there’ll be running your sound or they’ll be doing parking lot duty they’re there and here’s the deal. Don’t take that as a level of reflection on their spiritual maturity. you just have to figure out other ways to disciple and grow them. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be in a small group.
I think they should. but they need something to do. and so if you don’t ever give an operator to do, they will probably leave your.
Bob Bickford: [00:15:00] Yeah, So the judo move with, an operator who doesn’t want to sit in a circle. Being a group is hard to find some judo moves would be to schedule an appointment with them in the field where they are and do a walk and talk, right, or just a 10 minute quick check in. Hey, here are a couple of things.
Run by you or ask you about, um, particularly maybe harnessing their buy-in to your thing by inviting them to consult you on, on a particular thing.
JimBo Stewart: We tell you a judo move I did with an operator. I just, just thought of this. So I had a couple of these guys, they would never go to small group. They would never go to anything like that. So here’s what a. I just remember this, so we had a little golf cart that they would do, they would end up doing security in.
Right. So what I did is I found a couple of guys who were really good at disciple-making and I told them, Hey, you’re going to be that guy’s partner on a security duty, twice a month. And while you’re riding around in the golf cart, they’re [00:16:00] going to want to. Just you, your job is to chat towards spiritual things and to disciple them without them knowing that they’re being discipled.
and, and so that was a, I was a leadership judo thing.
I did with some operators at our church is, is they were being discipled without ever knowing that that was actually what was happening because they were doing security while being.
Bob Bickford: I love it. Lots of move. That’s like a, a double black belt, judo move. I love it. Here’s another one. I think operators can be confused, as being, self starters sometimes. And, one of the things that’s true about us Jimbo, and I think it’s probably why we like each other so much as we’re both. Uh, strong and operator, but we’re also strong and visionary.
So a blank page doesn’t bother us. In fact, we kind of like that. Uh, give me, give me a blank page. Let me fill it up and then turn me loose to go after it. Right? Both of us enjoy that kind of thing, but some operators aren’t blank [00:17:00] page because they don’t have that visionary component. So can you describe the difference between a, an operator that has visionary in the operator that does.
JimBo Stewart: if an operator is either primarily or secondarily also a visionary. then a blank page is not scary to them, but the danger they could end up in as what Les calls the artists and trap, because you can’t be both simultaneously. And so they’ll fill up the blank page with where they’re going to go and then they’ll go execute.
But the whole time that they’re going to execute and implement that big vision and plan, they’re no longer dreaming and visioning. And so when they complete, they’ll just have to start the process over again. There are certain roles where that works fine. In the lead role. That’s w as his lead pastor, both of us have talked about how that’s difficult, right.
And what we’ve got, what we had to learn in that lead role is be able to delegate, the execution sometimes so that we can keep leading in a visionary way. But if an operator doesn’t have visionary as their primary or secondary, then they don’t want to blank [00:18:00] page. They don’t really know what to do with the blank page necessarily what they want is here’s the.
Here’s the win. Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish. and then they want some white space, some autonomy left on the page to go figure it out. Uh, and they don’t. To be micromanaged or supervised really much at all. Uh, but they’re such hard workers. And so self-directed that a lot of times people mistakenly perceive them to be self-starters meaning that they’re good with a white page.
but that’s not the thing. They need something to get them started. They have to be pointed in a direction, or they prefer to be pointed in a direction and then left free to run. and so just understanding that difference, because I think one of the mistakes we make some times is we take a guy who’s really good operator and he’s such a hard worker and he’s so loyal and he’s so committed.
We elevate him into a visionary role. Cause we think, man, this guy is such a [00:19:00] great leader. I’m gonna put him in this visionary role and he’ll probably say yes, to do with. And then he’ll eventually struggle with it. And not, maybe not know why, if he doesn’t know this language and understanding these leadership styles, he’ll struggle with man.
I, you know, my dad is a great example of this. My dad is very much an operator worked in paper mills for a very long time. And I remember a moment late in his career when he got promoted really high up in the organization. And within six months he demoted himself, because, because he was like, this is miserable.
I, I sit in an office and I’m in behind a computer and I’m in meetings all day. and he was like, I just get me back out there in the mill fixing problems. And so he, he demoted himself and took a pay cut because he hated it. and that’s, that’s typical with an operator they’re such hard workers and they’re so good at what they do that we ended up elevating them in position that they don’t even really know.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. And there’s a different skillset, right. [00:20:00] And in that is kind of like the player. Who’s excellent. His sport and executing his sport, but then he’s promoted to the coach or the trainer and, you know, the manager and he’s just like, he, he can’t do it. He can, he can get stuff done and with excellence and can perform with excellence, but really has a difficult time helping others to do that too.
So that’s a, that’s an important distinction. here’s another one, operators tend to overcommit.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, so they have this disposition to action. And So Les McKeown says in his book, the synergist, a direct result of this disposition to action is a tendency to over-commit. Albeit only to these things, those things that they want to do, operators love not only to do this specific task directly associated with their job, but also to fix things that are broken or need of repair.
they also have an optimistic interpretation of the elastic city of time. and so, they love getting things done. And so when you give them [00:21:00] more opportunities to get things done, they’re going to say yes, and along the way, they’re going to see. Broken things and redundancies and other people’s processes and projects.
And they’ll. They’ll just start fixing those things too, because it, it like, it bothers them and almost like a OCD moment of like, ah, don’t do it that way and they want to go fix. And so they’ll jump in and I’ll start over-committing themselves. And other things they’ll almost always say yes to any task presented that feels like something they could accomplish and they want to accomplish, uh, regardless of how many.
Commitments they have. And then the elasticy of time also we’ll focus in, if you catch them in the right moment, most operators are pretty gregarious. and so they’ll love to chat with you, for a little while, and in which. Not realizing that they also have 17 other commitments that day. and so you have to figure out if you’re working with somebody, you got to do what less calls, pulling the weeds, and figure out, man, where are they?
[00:22:00] Over-committed in ways that we probably need to figure out somebody else on the team to do these things so that they can do the most important thing.
Bob Bickford: So one of the judo moves with an overcommitted operator is to remind them of. Of their lane. I think too, just to say, Hey man, that’s a great insight. But, man, I, I think, I think here’s what we’re doing in this area. And I appreciate that. And then maybe here’s a little bit of a, a snarky response.
How’s it going with your project? I I’ve heard that, you know, you guys are just started on that and what it does is it forces the operator back into his reality, right? So it’s a judo move, right? To remind them of your lane, their lane. I asked them about their reality. Cause I, when you were talking about the fact that as an operator, Sometimes you have a tendency to think you can fix everything.
And if you could just give a little bit of time here, it’s going to make a big difference. Right. And I find myself doing that a lot of time thinking, well, maybe if they would just do this, this and this, everything in their world would be great. [00:23:00] Right? And so some of it’s a presumption on my ability and my insight of not knowing enough.
Right. And not knowing all the background, but it’s always helpful for somebody to remind me of my lane, their lane. and they asked me the question about how’s it going in my world. So it kind of puts me back. So I think one of the things that I’ve learned in marriage Jimbo is that, the way that my wife and I go about tasks around the house are completely different and she is, uh, she’s probably more of a process.
And asking questions and wanting a process and wanting to, you know, here’s the five responsibilities, et cetera. I’m more of an operator. I go by feel I’ll punch, you know, gut. I can go, well, if I’ll do it this way. Well, when you, when we bring those personality styles into the way we do the way we cook a meal, the way we do work around the house, the way we approach a task, we can often find ourselves at odds in some ways like, she’ll want to ask me before I start something.
how, how are we going to do it? What are the three things? You know, what are the steps, all this kind of stuff. And I’m like, I [00:24:00] don’t know, like I just do it, like I just make it happen. And then when she’s doing what makes sense to her and she’s got a, a way she’s doing it, it drives me insane because I’m like, that’s the most inefficient way that you could ever approach this task.
Like, I think I could do it this way and I could do it that way. Here’s what I’ve learned. I just keep my mouth shut and I go into the next room and that that’s just, that’s some good advice. So I’ll just want to share that that’s a judo, move yourself, self judo, move. If you’re an operator, keep your mouth shut and go into the next ramp.
I think that will help you get a long way.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, here. Here’s the greatest judo move with an operator. If you can get them to see the value and understand the skills of true delegation and development, leadership development, and. Be able to know how to say, Hey, let me train you to do what I do. Uh, and so you got an operator who’s great at whatever role in the church, chances are, you can identify your operator [00:25:00]because they don’t, they’re not developing anybody underneath them because the development of somebody underneath them feels like, it slows down.
I mean, it doesn’t get them to done as quick. Right. They’re thinking, how do I get from a, to done? Stopping to teach and develop somebody along the process slows that down. Um, and so really that Ephesians four mindset of it is the leader’s role to equip the saints, to do the work of ministry. That part for an operator is really difficult.
the, let me eclipse, but if you can get them to flip in their mind that done. Isn’t the task being done, but developing and equipping someone else to do the work of ministry is the done, man, that’s one of the most valuable things you can do is get an operator to see that Ephesians four mentality of ministry.
That ministry is about developing people, not about getting tasks done, [00:26:00] and getting tasks done through. that’s a weird concept for an operator, but if you can get them to flip that switch and start discipling and developing leaders, man, you have unleashed something.
Bob Bickford: Awesome, man, this has been fun to talk about these leadership styles. We recommend less McKeown’s books to you. We’ll put some of them in the show notes, and then we’ll be back next week talking about processors. And I think Jimbo, it could be the most maligned leadership style, the most misunderstood, but one of the most important for us to really embrace as we think about leading in the church and leading our organizations.