Relationship or Structure?

In some organizations there is often the tale of two cultures. Some are all about relationships and some are all about structure and hierarchical systems. I personally am planted somewhere in the middle,

no leadership without relationships and nothing to lead without structures

Do we need structure?

I think some will say yes and some will also say no. Some like some kind of structure, and we are all happy when things works well, but some also think that organic is nice: we grow a bit wild, but it’s all organic.

For me I think there needs to be structure. We need a framework within which to work. This gives safety, a place and room to do things, and it also gives a purpose. It helps defining who we are and why we do what we do. I also think that there needs to be room to change the framework if needed. It is not the framework that sets that standard, rather the innovation of our organization, so the framework needs to be constantly evaluated. We need freedom and control in the same time. That is the art of leadership.

In most of the world we drive on the right hand side, but in some nations they drive on the left. As a child we used to say the “wrong side of the road”, about the “poor” left hand side drivers. Well, it was not what was normal for us. But I guess they say the same about us. Well, we right hand drivers have the majority of the road in this world (76%). But when I, as a right hand driver, go to a left hand nation, I need to respect their rules. If not, they will run me over. If I don’t want to end up having a lot of enemies… I need to adjust.

This also applies to structures in our nations, churches and in our organizations. As I am a part of YWAM, we often say we are a relationship-oriented mission. Many then don’t pay attention to our structure because it’s all about having good relationships. Please understand me right, I love this aspect of us that we are relationship oriented, but if we don’t have good structures in place we are in danger of destroying our relationships. We need to have good structure to prevent relationships crashing.

In our community, we have community leaders or base leaders and a leadership team. We have a structure for our work and where there is good framework there is also growth. But if structure in an organization is not clear or constantly being modified to fit a small group, we create room for problems. Often we work with people that are mature and can handle it, but sometimes we don’t and then relationships are in danger.

I believe we have to make structures clear

From where I stand, I believe we have to make structures clear. If you are not a ‘structure thinker’ get someone that is to help you, so you protect yourself and those around you from breakdown of relationships. Come to an agreement in your team about the rules of driving, so you avoid some driving on the left and some on the right. Otherwise, you could become gridlocked with both being correct according to their own thinking.

Structure is needed to build even stronger relationships in your team, church or business.

Till next time, drive safe!

Rune Sæther


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