What if every person in your organization who came to work this morning could leave at the end of the day feeling more focused, more productive, more fruitful and more satisfied?
I want to give you four takeaway lessons that can help make this happen for you and your workplace culture.
These same insights are now helping more than 3,000 Christian missionary workers, leaders, and their sending agencies spread the Gospel message throughout the world with new effectiveness and impact.
And the same can be true for you.
Ken Harder, a longtime missionary and consultant, and James Nelson, a research analyst, teamed up with Best Christian Workplaces Institute to create the ENGAGE research project, with a goal to determine the leadership practices needed to help cross-cultural ministries thrive.
In my recent interview with both men, Ken nailed the issue at hand:
“Missionaries are driven people who sense a calling from God to face the challenge of living amidst a totally different people group from their own and learn a new language. On top of this, these dedicated field staff must carry out their ministry thousands of miles removed from headquarters, where policies and programs that directly affect them are decided.”
The Takeaway Lessons
The work by Ken and James serves the purpose of Global Mapping International (GMI) — leveraging research and technology to create, cultivate and communicate mission information, leading to insight that inspires Kingdom service. These four takeaways of their research speak to any Christian organization, including yours:
- A great supervisor (leader) makes a big difference. How you listen to what’s important to them builds real trust. Such growing trust will increase their fruitfulness in both how they serve and what they achieve.
- What you do as a leader affects how your people feel about themselves and their work. As a leader, you feel better to see the individual thrive—and retention rates go up.
- Missionaries feel more engaged and effective when they’re involved in decision-making. As James says, “We believe in letting organizational values flow from headquarters to the field staff, and letting ideas flow from the field staff to headquarters. This approach has revolutionized one missions agency, which worked to bring together 40 of its people from around the world to serve and train country and team leaders.”
- Lead with competency—and authentic caring. People can sense when they’re truly being cared for, or not. They’ll read you like a book. When people see their leaders to be transparent and authentic, they’ll realize your humanness and that God is at work in you. And they’ll be encouraged to want the same in their own life.
Let organizational values flow from headquarters to field staff, and let ideas flow from staff to HQ.
James and Ken have seen these four insights at work throughout the world. Their short-term effectiveness can lead to something greater. Missionary evangelist Patrick Johnstone concluded that the most the productive period in a missionary worker’s life often takes place from takes place in the 8th to 17th years in the field. It’s the fruitful result of fully engaged people, affirmed, equipped and empowered by caring, competent leaders.
And here’s the kicker. Says James, “It’s the people in the field (i.e., your employees) who are closest to the action and thus best qualified to recommend the ideas and changes that need doing.”
So, be on a mission of mutual listening. By listening to your people, you’ll actually model good listening they can practice. Through shared listening, you’ll be honoring and trusting one another for the good of your culture — and the unfinished work God wants your organization to complete.
Mission workers are some of the hardest working people in the world, but they don’t always get the support they need to thrive. Now, with new research from GMI and BCWI, Ken Harder and Carla Foote share simple but powerful practices to overcome these challenges.