I wrote this in 2015 here:
Emotional intelligence is a better predictor of pastoral success than straight As on a seminary transcript. Emotionally intelligent people better manage their stress, diffuse anxiety, and promote a climate of optimism and adaptability which makes people feel more innovative. It’s science, people.
EQ continues to be the most essential personality characteristic of an effective pastor. A self-aware leader understands their actual strengths and weaknesses, blind spots, and purpose.
Although many of us know the work of Ronald Heifetz, I’d never heard the term AQ until reading this book by Alan Murray. While we might be aware of the importance of being adaptable – especially after/during a pandemic, congregations hoping to transition into impactful mid-21st Century ministry need to find leaders with a high AQ.
Or maybe congregations don’t want that.
At the risk of over-simplifying the Pastor Nominating Process, I believe – very generally speaking – there are three kinds of pastors seeking ministry positions in these days:
Those with a high IQ – They are smart enough to do theological graduate work – and in my denomination – they can exegete scripture in ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek. They are well-read and have gifts in teaching, preaching, and general leadership. Extra points if your resume includes an Ivy League School. “Our pastor went to Yale.”
Those with high EQ – They communicate well, play well with others, and know how to read the room. They are self-aware and empathetic and able to succeed relationally. They handle conflict with poise and adversity with a positive spirit.
Those with high AQ – They are not only well-read about adaptive leadership, they are not only relationally gifted enough to talk about adaptive leadership, but they can actually do adaptive leadership. They are not afraid to try and fail, to unlearn and relearn, to pivot – our favorite pandemic leadership word.
According to the chart above which I found here, there is also the PQ which is “performance quotient” or what a person is actually achieving.
All this talk of achievement is a tricky one in that being a “successful spiritual leader” means different things to different people. Is a successful spiritual leader one who is beloved by their congregation because the pastor’s like God to them? Is a successful spiritual leader one who doubles the size of the membership? Is a successful spiritual leader a builder who led the sanctuary renovation and added a new gym? Is the successful spiritual leader one who equips the saints for ministry – whether those saints are members of the church or preschool parents or scout troop members or neighbors who drop by the food pantry?
Some people naturally have a high AQ and others of us can learn how to have a high AQ. This is a rich and exciting time to learn these skills whether we are pastors, bankers, bakers, or dairy farmers. These times call for joyful adaptability. Who’s with me?