Father Gabriel’s Bedrock

Readers of Blending Leadership know that Reshan and I are big fans of David Sparks.  In all that he does, he combines good humor, humility, and intelligence, so what’s not to like?

Recently, on Mac Power Users, a podcast he co-hosts with Katie Floyd, Sparks interviewed “Catholic priest and geek” Gabriel Mosher. At one point in the interview, after Katie asked Father Gabriel about the online tools or scheduling services he uses to organize his parish, Father Gabriel offered a response that is a textbook example of thoughtful blended leadership — that is, leadership that balances the needs of those served (i.e., led) with the range of tools available to serve (i.e., lead) them.

A lot of the people who I work with or who I spend time with or who need my help really, they don’t function that way. Most people that I’m working with, they either want to deal with a phone call or email. Having a remote or sort of . . . Internet based or a service based scheduling system would lose for them, I think, that personal touch. A lot of them are really asking, of their priest, they’re asking for that personal touch. . . .  An email is already a little bit distant from that.  You have to balance, I think, as a priest, [when you’re] someone who is ministering, when you’re serving people, you have to balance. Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of great services out there, but for these people, there needs to be that element of the personal involved.

David Sparks then jumps in to emphasize the utility of Fr. Gabriel’s point, applying it to his legal practice:

That’s the reason why I frankly haven’t used them in my legal practice. I don’t want to put my clients through saying “oh you have to go log into some website and look at a calendar.”

And then Fr. Gabriel finishes the point:

I think there’s [an] analogy. . . .   If you hire a lawyer, this is someone that you need to have a relationship with, and you need to be willing to, you want to, trust them.  So you want to get to know them. All of those points of contact that you have, those actual points of contact on the phone or through email or in person, each of those are very important for establishing the relationship that’s the bedrock of the work that’s done.

There are dozens of wonderful tech tools that leaders can use to inspire and guide their constituents . . . But it pays off to really think about the people you lead as you’re choosing the best ways to connect with them and to serve them.  The bedrock is what counts.

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