Should I even be here? Part 3 of three parts

Who Are You?

Marcus Buckingham, in his book The One Thing You Need to Know, states that there are three types of people, The Leader, The Manager, and the Individual Performer (or as I like to call it, the Button Pusher).

The Leader

We all have read books and been to conferences or seminars and have been challenged to be leaders. We’ve seen the lists of what qualities a leader should have, like: good work ethic, motivated, flexible, decisive, experienced, strive for excellence, punctual, and even humble to name a few. These are all great qualities, but I expect these things out of my staff, my volunteers and even my kids. Having these qualities doesn’t automatically make you a leader. I have a ton of guys and gals on my team that exude all of these qualities, but I would never make them leaders. So what makes someone a leader? Well first the obvious, a leader needs to have followers, otherwise they aren’t leading. But what makes a great leader? I believe that great leaders know where they are going (vision/mission) and clearly paint that picture for their followers. It’s the clarity and the confidence of their vision that will inspire others to tag along for the long haul. Your people need to see that there is a future out there of something bigger and better than where they are currently at. That is the only reason for people to move. They are unsatisfied with where they are at and someone comes along and shows them something better and they follow. There is a certain confidence that leaders must have. This next point is where Marcus and I disagree. He would say that confidence/ego comes from within and I would say that the confidence a leader who is a follower of Christ must come from above. The leader knows that they have been given by God the ability, understanding, and the drive to overcome any challenge or obstacle in their way to achieve their vision through the power of the Holy Spirit. But of course, the leader must be in tuned with the Holy Spirit’s leading for this to work. Where are you at with your personal walk? Is your leadership Christ centered? Do you know where you are going?

The Manager

You always hear it said that “Our greatest asset is our people.” Then why do we spend so much of our time with our gear? Because it’s easier! Our gear doesn’t talk back, have emotional needs that need to be met, or need to be taught how to do its job. And yes, part of our job is to manage our technical systems so that things keep working and things don’t get lost. I get it, but the true manager sees past that and focuses on the people. You can have the nicest gear in the world and if you have no one to run it, it is worthless. The goal of the manager is to “discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it.” I know this may seem callus and cold, but if the motivation is right then it’s the exact opposite. It’s not about using people. It’s truly caring enough about them that you want them to succeed and be fulfilled by using their strengths, gifts and talents. In return they will perform better and you will have better results. The only way you can do this is to get to know your people. Find out what makes them tick. Figure out how they feel loved and encouraged. Pray for them. Visit them in the hospital. Ask how they are doing. Buy them a Starbucks on their birthday. Be their Pastor. Most of all truly care for them. You will be found out real quickly if you try to manipulate people into performing so that you look good or that your church gets what it needs. Don’t just fill positions, invest in your people.

The Individual Performer (The Button Pusher)

This is pretty self-explanatory. These are the doers, the engineers, the operators, and the experts. These are the jobs that originally got us excited about doing tech, right? But at some point, someone asked you or you felt the need to become a tech director. What were you thinking?! Maybe it was the opportunity to move up in the ranks, get more money (or at least steady money), get out of the rat race of production life, or whatever. Even as you are reading this, you might be wishing you were back to just being the sound guy or the cameraman or the electronics technician. That’s OK. But if that is the case, maybe you shouldn’t be the guy in charge.

So who are you?

Start by asking those around you, your pastors, your volunteers, your spouse, your friends. Take some kind of strengths assessment from a book like Standout by Marcus Buckingham or StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I challenge you to do it. It may surprise you.

Can you be all three?

Well your pastors or elders think you can. That’s why they hired you. I think Tech Directors are the only people in the world that are expected to be an upfront leader of staff and volunteers, a manager of schedules, people and equipment, and an expert in every aspect of Audio, Video, and Lighting. Some people have said that you just need to wear different hats at different times. The problem with that type of thinking is that those people assume that you have all the hats to begin with. The reality is that you cannot be good at everything. You can certainly try to do it all yourself, but you will fail and at the end of the day you will be depleted of all your strength and burned out. “Well maybe I can just get better at what I am bad at?” You are right; you may go from being horrible at something to being really bad at it. But you will never be great at it. And the time and energy it took would be exhausting. Wouldn’t it be better to find something that you already have some natural ability and pour into that same amount of time and energy? Does that mean you can ignore the things you are bad at? No. But manage around them, and focus on your strengths.

Here is the key for the Leader, Manager, and Individual Performer:

First, identify which one you are the most and focus on that. It’s important to know that not one of these is more important than the other. Just different. We need all of these types of people to be a successful Production Team.

Second, surround yourself with others that are different than you. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, describes this process as getting the right people on the bus. Whether it’s recruiting some key volunteers or being fortunate to hire people, you must choose wisely. And when you choose poorly, (it will happen) fix the problem. Make the tough decisions.

Third, don’t be intimidated by the fact that your people might be better at some things than you. Get over yourself. You will be amazed by how many compliments you get because of what your team accomplishes when you have all the right people in the right places.

Do you have all of these on your team or are you trying to do all three?

If you are a true leader, but things just don’t seem to get done. You see a clear future that is bright, but just can’t seem to make it happen, inspire people around you to step up and join your cause. Partner with someone who is about getting things done and can come up with systems to help your team.

If you are the manager and you just naturally are good at putting people and systems in the right place, but your team just seems to be in a rut. Find someone who can inspire and bring clarity to your team. Maybe that can be your worship leader or a pastor. Or maybe even once a quarter bring in some outside help like a consultant. Or find a mentor, a fellow tech director that seems to have it together.

If you are a button pusher, maybe it’s time to step down. Maybe it’s time to let someone else lead and manage and you do what you do best. You are banging your head up against the wall every day and you are tired. You cannot do this on your own.

To Finish

So what now? Should I even be here? If yes, then keep going. Find other Tech Directors who might be struggling. Share the wealth. But if the answer is no, then where are you at in the process. What questions are you wrestling with? Maybe all of them? Well, pick one and tackle it head on. By the way, this is an extremely slow process. You will not find the right people, discover you strengths, learn how to use them, and change your view of your job overnight. You will go into work tomorrow and still have the same boss, the same responsibilities, the same pile of work, and the same to do list, but don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Take the next step. Start today!

Join the discussion!


Jacob Barbour and his wife, Kristi, have two beautiful little girls. They are lifelong residents of Southern California. His life journey has taken him from what he thought God wanted, which was to become a youth pastor, to being the Production Manager at a church of 10,000+ regular attenders. He has served at High Desert Church for thirteen years, two of those years as Front of House Engineer and the other eleven in his current role as Production Manager. Jacob is in charge of all Live Audio, Video, and Lighting equipment and personnel. He oversees two full-time and ten part-time paid staff, as well as over 100 volunteers, over three campuses.

“My passion is helping people find out what their God-given strengths are and helping them leverage them to grow their local church and further the Kingdom of God. I also have a heart for helping churches find their way when it comes to implementing technology into their worship services. Whether it’s adding their first sound system and projector or expanding their campus to High Definition, it always helps to be able to talk to someone who has already walked that road.”