He had been traveling all around the most important cities of the Roman Empire planting christian communities. He had been, as a custom, spending some time at a specific city. We would stay for months. He would preach, he would gather new disciples. Most importantly, he would leave leaders in his place (Titus 1:5). Yet, we find that after he is gone, in some instances, he meddles into the discipline and governance of these communities he had founded. Such seems to be the case of Paul’s first letter to the corinthians. His message is strong as he addresses issues regarding divisions and lack of discipline. Was St. Paul too attached to the communities he had founded? Did he micromanage?
I have certainly been accused of micromanaging in my style of leadership. I recall a time when we were working on a database project very dear to my heart because of the impact that it would have on the organization. I became so immersed in the start-up of the project that it appeared to some that I was taking over completely. Of course, I was not going to do that. But it certainly felt like that to some of the people closer to the project. Here, like in other areas of leadership, it all boils down to balance.
In the last few decades micromanaging became such a bad word that many leaders avoided it all together. As a result, we have ended up with the opposite problem: macroleading. As professor Henry Mintzbert commented in his book Managing regarding the Quandary of Connecting,
Managers who are disconnected don’t know what is going on. Hands off too often amounts to brains off.
He explains that there are times when the leader has to step in. Even if for some time, he or she may even take over of a project that is key to the organization. It is a challenge for a leader to be informed about what is going on given that managing, by nature, removes the leader from the things he or she is managing. And yet, the leader must know. At times the leader needs hands on experience. He or she needs to get out of the office, talk to the people on the floor and have a better sense of what is going on. Same thing happens in the Church. The leader needs to know what the people on the pew are saying, feeling. Pope Francis has been very expressive as he says pastors should be like “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep”.
1. How well informed do you think you are about what goes on under your leadership?
2. What challenges have you faced in connecting with the people you serve or the people under your leadership?
3. How can a pastor be like a “shepherd living with the smell of the sheep”? What does it mean?
4. What do you think the reaction of the Corinthians was to Paul’s letter?
5. Have you ever been micromanaged? How did that feel?