As Director of Hacienda El Refugio (an outdoor adventure and retreat center near Quito, Ecuador) Paul Reichert leads a multicultural team of 25 staff members who serve the Latin American church.
“Everything we do is focused on leadership development,” says Paul. He and his staff not only conduct retreats for youth, church, school, business, and nonprofit groups in Latin America, but constantly pour themselves into a group of 30-60 volunteer facilitators connected with Hacienda El Refugio, which is a ministry of Youth World and International Teams.
The result is a vibrant, exciting mix of ministry leaders working to reach some of the 300 million Latin American youth in a culture where youth ministry is undervalued and underdeveloped.
About a year ago, a friend in ministry introduced Paul to the Leading From Your Strengths profiles as a tool to instill better communication in this diverse group of leaders and staff.
“What drew me to the profiles initially was that they are very easy to put to practical use,” says Paul. “And the profiles offer language options. That was a huge plus since I have a multilingual team.” When Paul took the test himself and found it be very accurate, he decided to have his entire team complete the profile assessments.
How the Profiles Help Paul With His Staff
- One-on-One. As Paul reviews profile results with a staff member, he simultaneously creates a “cheat sheet” of that individual’s traits – specifically, communication Do’s and Don’ts that are important to that person. Paul uses the cheat sheet in subsequent one-on-one meetings with that individual. It is a reminder about best ways to communicate with that person. “I tend to be very task-oriented,” says Paul. “Yet some of my direct reports have indicated their need to talk personally before we dive into business.” He has discovered that reviewing the data on a staff member’s cheat sheet allows him to orient his thinking and approach to that person – before the meeting – leading to a much more productive time together.
- Within the Team. Further, the data became a catalyst for healthy conversations in the team and increased trust as team members came to understand and validate each others’ strengths. “The information has impacted every meeting that I have with them,” says Paul.
- As Team Members Lead Others. A few staff members who report directly to Paul also lead their own teams. As Paul recognized the profile benefits in his staff interactions, he encouraged those with their own teams to use them, too. The staff members, like Paul, then create “cheat sheets” to use as they work with their people.
The Profiles Impact a Whole Ministry
Soon, Paul enrolled in Level I Certification and began sharing the profile process with other leaders in Youth World, Hacienda El Refugio’s parent ministry. Paul recently presented the profile and workshop for the semester abroad program Living and Learning, one of the six branches of Youth World’s programming.
“As we continue to refer back to do’s and don’ts of communication (both our own and others we work with) and carefully working to understand and value one another’s differences we have, we can only enhance the workings of our team, both professionally and personally,” said Elizabeth, one of the semester abroad participants.
The impact of using the profiles was so significant that it drew the attention of the rest of the Youth World leadership team. As a result, all Youth World ministry directors are now in the process of taking the profile assessments with two goals in mind: understanding themselves and understanding each other. Ultimately, these leaders will use the profiles in their respective Youth World program areas as a means to more effective soul care throughout the organization.
Profiles Fill Another Need: Successful Hiring
Along the way, Paul and his team have completed Profile Insights assessments for positions that open up at Hacienda El Refugio. “We have made a habit of using the Position Insights data with the Leading From Your Strengths profiles when considering serious candidates for full-time position,” says Paul. “The data has been incredible. It has helped us tremendously in the hiring process.”
For more than 10 years, Hacienda El Refugio has witnessed the waves of impact as lives are transformed and churches are strengthened through spiritually vibrant young leaders. “Now we’re using the profiles as a quality, objective resource that adds even more credibility to our team building,” says Paul.
It’s a significant tool they use in training a new generation of leaders to identify their strengths, the strengths of others, and to blend – ultimately building and renewing the Latin American church.