EP 111 – THE SYNERGIST AND LEADERSHIP JUDO
We’re back and wrapping up the Leadership Judo series, this time talking about the Synergist Leadership Style. This style is an important one and there are some unique dynamics in understanding, working with and accepting the contributions of a Synergist.
Here are some of the key highlights
- Ask a Synergist to help you get people on board with an idea or initiative-they have great people skills and can build unity among team members.
- Conflict often occurs between a Synergist and the Operator. The Operator can be viewed as too blunt and down to business by the Synergist who the operator thinks just focuses on talking and doing nothing of real substance.
- The Synergist may default to inaction when the team or staff fails to develop consensus-it is important to help them move forward recognizing that you’ll never have 100% of your people/team/congregation on board.
- They Synergist is a great relationship builder and can get a good read on people-connect with them to understand what might be taking place within your congregation.
We’d love to hear your thoughts-drop us a line, a text or call into the bootcamp hotline and leave us your questions or comments.
The Synergist by Les McKeown
Free leadership style quiz CLICK HERE
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Alright, here we are back at the bootcamp with Bob Bickford. I’m so glad to be here on the digital screen with you fresh back from the beautiful state of Alaska and back home in the even more beautiful, at least to me, state.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Jimbo, you got to experience some cold weather and you’re not a cold weather guy. Are you?
JimBo Stewart: I am not, I’m a Husky fellow, but I still don’t have enough padding. I still prefer to, I would rather be in sweltering, humid heat than in the cold. I liked Alaska. It’s a beautiful place. I’m glad I got to visit. And I’m sure I will visit again at some point. but I, I don’t think I could ever live in a culture that.
Bob Bickford: Now you’ve been to some interesting places and, uh, you’ve been to. and you, um, now you’ve been to Alaska in, and so outside of Kenya, is that probably the furthest place that you’ve been away from your house Jimbo.
JimBo Stewart: I’ve been to, I’ve been to, [00:01:00] which is not much further than Alaska. I mean, it’s basically its next door neighbor. I’ve been to Russia, I’ve been to India, which was a pretty far, place, but yeah, I mean it took me all of 12 hours from first takeoff to final landing to get home. And so I realized it’s about 4,700 miles from my house.
And Rome, Italy is like 4,900 miles from my house. And so I was basically the same distance as going to.
Bob Bickford: That’s awesome. I just love the visual of drawing a diagonal line from Jacksonville to Anchorage, Alaska, and imagining you traveling that diagonal line. Okay.
JimBo Stewart: I wish it were that straight. It would have been shorter if it were that straight, but,
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: uh, but I’m glad to be home and I’m even more glad to be here on the screen with.
Bob Bickford: Well, it’s good to see you Jimbo. I’m excited about today’s episode actually as
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, we’re continuing in the S the leadership judo series,
Bob Bickford: Yep. And [00:02:00] today we’re talking, uh, who, which style were we talking about today? Jimbo
JimBo Stewart: the synergist.
Bob Bickford: synergist. How would you describe the synergist in a, in a real kind of succinct type center?
JimBo Stewart: I love that you give the qualifier succinct. Cause you know that, that that’s not something I’m naturally going to provide to you.
Bob Bickford: Well, as an operator, I’m pretty blunt.
JimBo Stewart: So, all right. Here’s some bullet points on the center, just in the mind of a center, just they have high emotional intelligence. they have a good, they’re usually good at regulating the dominant styles of others. They resolve and interpret perspectives for others. This is where they really bring a great value to a team is when the visionary and the.
Processors start to kinda go at each other. They’re they’re particularly skilled at that conflict of being able to interpret what the visionary is trying to say and what the processors trying to say, helping them see each other’s sides. That’s one of the [00:03:00] really high values of the synergist. they, they are good to bring into those discussions.
They elevate kind of over owned debates things we’ve been debating for forever. And then they, they harmonize the team. They, their goal is harmony bringing everybody together. Uh, and so the enterprise commitment or kingdom commitment that we’ve been talking about, comes pretty easy to them. they’re able, they’re able to, to know how to do that really well.
They’re really good at group dynamics. Naturally, usually pretty persuasive. they’re not men and they’re not manipulative about it, but they’re just persuasive. There’s good at getting you to see how something could, could work. Uh, and so I think about kind of the theme verse we’ve had for this whole.
Leadership judo series has been Ephesians 4 29. let, let no corrupting talk, come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear and center just a really good at that moment, right. Of that. What fits the occasion, especially when there starts to be [00:04:00] that rising natural conflict between the visionary and the processor.
And so synergist are great to have on a team. What we say. Really in, in leadership, everybody needs to build synergist skills. and so not everybody has to have visionary skills. Not everybody has to have operator skills and not everybody has to have processors skills, but to lead well in a way that lives out Ephesians 4 29, we all have to have synergistic.
Bob Bickford: I think that’s such a great point that you make. And the synergist is one who can understand the different personalities in the room and lead in such a way. They try to bring them together towards the accomplishment of their goal while some of the other personalities are, are competing or even having conflict in pursuit of that goal, a synergist really is sort of, I don’t know if the, the right word is.
emotional glue or maybe the counselor, or maybe, you know, the collab chief collaborating officer, [00:05:00] right. They’re thinking about how do we bring everybody together to accomplish this? Because everybody has a value when the other people are just one of the people that are posing number get out of the way.
Right? So, so as center, just as a valuable teammate in the sense that they can oftentimes. I think they can do this too. They can take one of the person’s dominant personality deciding to go, Hey, let me kind of explain some of the dynamics to you a little bit here. Here’s what, here’s what I think they were trying to say.
And I think we’re all on the same page. Right? And so they’re, they’re a super important team member to have in the room and in the leadership group.
JimBo Stewart: it’s absolutely necessary to get anything done. Well, it to make us all work together, but they’re not without some natural challenges, depending on how dominant that synergist style is. And so. Whereas the natural conflict for a visionary and a processor between each other, the operator in the center just kind of have the natural conflict here and, and, and that’ll leave because for the synergist, the operator comes [00:06:00] across maybe too blunt and direct, uh, where they feel like things need to be nuanced in a way that’s, uh, less potential of emotional harm for others.
whereas operators not worried about emotional harm because they’re their primary goal is. Productivity efficient. Let’s get this done, uh, as quickly as possible in, and how do we move that direction as a team? But the operator also struggles with the center just at times, because in their mind they view what the synergist is doing as lazy or unproductive, because they’re thinking, man, you spent a lot of time talking and talking about people’s emotions and how people feel when there is a task that still needs to be accomplished.
And so. We can be, you can deal with your emotions on your off time. Go get a therapist, but right now we’re, we’re getting some stuff done. And so I need.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, the bottom line for, for in this, I’ve seen this in some pastors too. Like the bottom line is let’s, complete this task. Let’s grow this church. Let’s do this thing. Hmm. Some people [00:07:00] get run over in the process and a synergy. Reminds the high visionary or the high operator, Hey, we’re in the people business.
Right. And we need to do the right thing in the right way. and we can go, towards the goal and accomplish that mission. But if we don’t have people who are still part of us or we’ve lost a lot of people along the way, that’s not a good thing. and so they are an important role. And, and I think that that if you are, and I’m an op a visionary operator, And so I think when I am, when I have a lot to do or when I’m tired, um, And I run into a synergist who just wants to like, make sure that everybody’s on the same page.
I I’m like I get a little frustrated without, you know, just cause like, okay, well we got a lot to do. Right. And, and so I really resonated with that, that, that point that you make. And I think that, a synergist, a visionary or an operator is looking at the end goal and as synergist is looking at the faces and the posture, so the people in the room.[00:08:00]
And some of their communication. So I think it’s important for us, for me to kind of have a synergist around so I can see, how everybody’s doing and they serve as a good check for me.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, Senator just, I think one of the leadership judo moves you can do is be aware of. Perception that they have and their, their perceptiveness that they have and ask them to help you anticipate and even mitigate potential conflict as you’re. So, as you’re thinking about steps, you want to take to lead the church forward, bring a center just into that process.
And, and I’m not saying that if somebody is going to be upset, you don’t do it. Obviously when you lead change, people will end up getting upset sometimes. and so, Ask them to help you identify who’s who, where is there going to be conflict in this and why? And see if they can’t help you mitigate it as you’re leading change forward.
Bob Bickford: Now, one of the, the challenges that personality is, if they’re people oriented, they might not be progress oriented [00:09:00] so much. So if you’re working with a synergist, like what’s the task that you assign them and how do you figure out how to assign them a task? I mean, cause it’s, it’s more than let’s just sit around and feel good about being here and drink coffee together.
Right. We got to get some stuff done. So how, how do you bring a center just into that? Let’s get stuff done. Realm.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So if you’re talking about somebody that is a leader in the church, and you’re, you’re wanting them to lead in some way to, to move the ball forward down the field in some ministry area, then what I would do is lean into their secondary style. So if their primary style is synergist, whatever their secondary style is.
And here’s what I want to say this, if. pastor listening to this. If you take the free quiz that we link in the show notes to this, and you come out high as a synergist, here’s a couple of questions. I want you to ask yourself, how long have you been in this ministry? How much conflict have you had to deal with and mitigate how much [00:10:00] pain and hurt have you been through because of that.
And then. Would you score the same prior to all that conflict? Here’s why, here’s why I think this is important. I made a lot of pastors that when I try to coach them, one of the first things I’ll ask them to do is take this leadership style. Cause just so I can understand how they view, leading in getting things done.
And what I have found to be pretty universal is when I meet a pastor in their highest score synergist, that is a result of years of managing conflict. And it’s not actually really their primary leadership style. It’s just how they’ve adapted to the tumultuous season that God has them in. And so I was meeting with a friend of ours recently and I was asking him those questions and he was saying, Yeah.
he a Senator just visionary.
And he said, yeah, I think the visionary part is what I would have scored higher on prior to this pastorate. But It’s just been tough. [00:11:00] And, and so I feel like I’ve had to become more of a synergist and I’d say is you do need to have that center just, but, but God calls you there to be a visionary leader.
Cause that’s who he’s wired. You. Right. And he, the synergist part really is not meant to be the primary leadership style for anybody. It’s it’s it’s really, I think, meant to be the foundation underneath. How you’re you lead with your primary leadership style? So if you are. Uh, primary center just, or you’re leading a primary synergist.
I would lean into that secondary style to figure out. And I think what you’ll find is that if that’s you or whoever you’re leading, you’ll see them really come to life. Not when they’re leading as a synergist, just trying to harmonize everybody. But when they’re leading through their secondary style,
Bob Bickford: It’s a great point for us to think about our experience and how it impacts our leadership, because there’s not a person. That I’ve ever [00:12:00] met, that hasn’t led a group or been a pastor who hasn’t been impacted by conflict. And when you take those shots and when you are faced with those circumstances and challenge it, challenges, it does impact the way you think.
Right. It may entrench you, or it may cause you to, to, uh, backtrack a little bit. so I think those are super important. So I think one of the things I would wonder about Jimbo is if a synergist is about keeping everybody together and making sure people understand each other so that they can, the team can move forward, organization can move forward.
How do they respond when the team seems to be divided and can’t reach a point of agreement or consensus. W what’s, what’s a synergists wrestling with, in those moments.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
synergies can have a tendency to overemphasize consensus and not really want to move. A leadership decision until they can get everybody on board. And [00:13:00] I think helping them look at scripture And understand and see that that’s not even the, the biblical example that we see of leadership that’s that didn’t happen in, I mean, If you can get a sinner, just understand even Jesus couldn’t get everybody on board.
right. I mean, they were Jesus expressed frustration where he, where people wouldn’t right. He wept over his. Right. And he wept like, and you know, in John six, you know, if you want to follow me, then eat my flesh and drink my blood. And everybody leaves and, and Peter, you know, they, they go, well, what the disciples go?
Why do you talk like that? Why, why do you say things like that? And he says, are you going to leave too? That’s not a very synergistic mindset. Right? Let’s get everybody harmonized. And so it’s hard for. Synergist, depending on highlights, how high their score is in center. Just to see that sometimes you have to lead without [00:14:00] consensus, and there’s gotta be pain involved in that, in that process.
But that’s, that doesn’t mean that you’re leading in an un-biblical way. Now, what I would say, obviously we would give, we would give a caution a different direction for a visionary operator, right? For a visionary operator, we would say. Hey, you’re not going to have consistence every time. We’re not telling you, you haven’t always had to have consensus, but do make sure you have some people on board.
Like before you just do things, for the synergist, we would say, we have to actually do things. We can’t get everybody on board. We have to actually move forward and get some things done. And so I think if you’re leading a synergist, just help them process that. it’s, it’s going to be emotionally difficult for a center just to make hard decision.
Bob Bickford: as we’re talking to re planters and revitalize. I think churches sometimes can take on the synergist personality, right. Especially if they’ve been in decline for a while, where, you know, people have left because of conflict, didn’t get resolved or a vote went one way or the [00:15:00] other. And so what they’ve seen is they’ve seen the body fracture and they’ve seen people leave.
And so the culture can become synergistic in that, that we may, we, we want to keep everybody together and we, we need to move when we have consensus. And so we’re going to delay. This initiative, we’re going to put off this decision. We’re going to make sure that we have talked to everybody that if we’re voting on an important issue, that we’ve created absentee ballots, we visited all the shut-ins and we, we make it.
I dotted and T crossed and men that will drive a visionary operator, pastor, like completely insane that they’re just be, they’ll struggle with that. And so, I think you have to, you have to find there’s a, there’s a, a right balance where there’s tension on informing everybody and communicating correctly, but.
Not being paralyzed. If you have a hint of an idea that there might be three or [00:16:00] four or five people who are on board with a particular thing, and some of this is generational too. I think Jimbo, what I’ve seen is, um, I’ve noticed this, there are, there, there are some folks who they’ve just had so much conflict in their generation of, of living inside the church.
They just simply decide they want to do everything possible. Not to have any kind. Right.
JimBo Stewart: Mm.
Bob Bickford: like, let’s just have peace. Like we we’ve had, we’ve lost people. We’ve had division, we’ve had church splits, we’ve lost a few pastors. Like, let’s just, let’s just keep the peace. And so, the culture can become synergistic in that regard, but I think there’s a positive side of that is their intuitive feelers and their, their relational awarenesses is kind of like a super sensitive antenna.
Hmm. If you’re a, a replant or a revitalizer and you’re wanting to do some things you might need to get with the synergist and say, Hey, you know, here’s some of my ideas, here’s some things that I think would, would be helpful for the church. Who do we need to think about in [00:17:00] terms of, you know, who might struggle with this?
Who might have, uh, it might be challenged by this and how would we begin to have conversations and how could we plan a communication? Strategy or a discussion strategy, or even a prayer strategy to see if we could get everybody thinking about this and get everybody on board. So I think rather than looking at them as just like, everybody’s got to agree.
Relying on your own style to get it all the agreement, the way you want to get the agreement by casting vision or handing out a task list is probably good to get a center, just to think through how do we, how do we build a people movement, right? How do we get people on board who are the key influencers?
How, how do we make sure that, that we’re not making a decision in somewhat of a, you know, kind of an isolated position. So lean on those synergists in, in those times when you’re trying to develop a consensus or momentum, I would say. To help move the church forward.
JimBo Stewart: Part of the reason that the culture in dying churches has [00:18:00] very synergist, heavy feel is visionaries and operators. Kind of really strong in those areas. Usually won’t stick around for very long in a dying church.
Bob Bickford: Yes.
JimBo Stewart: as, as the church starts to go through a treadmill and bureaucracy, um, and visionaries and operators only have to sit through one or two business meetings where things get tangled up in the bylaws and.
Through a contentious vote before there, they’re just not going to stay around much longer. And so what typically happens in dying churches is the membership and even leadership that’s left is going to be primarily synergist and processors. And the processors are the ones that are going to make sure we Do everything by the bylaws and everything, the way that we’ve been doing it for forever, that that’s the way we’ve been doing it.
It’s the way we need to keep doing it. Because it’s the right way to do it. And the center just are the ones that are always going to tell you in every church that you go to this [00:19:00] dying, they’re going to say, we’re the friendliest church you’ve ever been to. And, they’re always going to be that person, but here’s, what’s going to happen is the processors are going to be the first ones to figure out that they’re dying.
the synergist are going to be the last ones to figure it out. the processors are going to figure it out because the spreadsheets tell them that they’re dying. Right. That they’re going to be the ones to figure out we have X amount of months before we can’t pay the bills or, or something like that.
Right. And, and then, and then they will either try to. Fix that and remedy that, or they will leave. And then you get down to a church. That’s just got a handful of people. chances are you maybe have one processor. That’s keeping them alive and open and that’s going to be the treasurer and the secretary and the chairman of the personnel committee, all in one person and the rest are going to be synergist and they’re going to love each other and they’re going to be very friendly to each other.
And they’ll be very friendly to you. but they don’t have anybody helping think through visionary leadership. They don’t have operators helping them get things done. And [00:20:00] that’s why this stuff becomes so important. That’s part of why that culture is that way. But it’s also is one of the sweetest things that you experience in dying churches is that they will have that kind of sweet synergistic mentality.
but that alone can lead the church forward. And here’s what we’d say is it’s not just that alone, none of these styles by themselves. I can get the church where it needs to be. That’s the whole point of this whole reason we use this tool and we talked towards this direction is to understand that not every problem needs a visionary answer.
Not every problem needs an operator answer. Not every problem. It’s a processor answer and not every problem needs a synergist answer. We have to figure out what it is that God’s called us to do, and be that Ephesians four 11 through 16 church. That comes together using the unique giftings and roles that God has given us each of us playing our role properly.
So the church can build itself up in love. That’s how a church grows in love and unity and a maturity, [00:21:00] unity and uniformity are not the same thing. And I think so often we’re trying to create uniformity where what we’ve been called to is.