Monday, March 22, 2010

Five concepts on leadership

I’m delivering another presentation on leadership this week. Sometimes an invitation to speak comes with the requirement to follow the theme of the conference or event. That’s a hit-or-miss prospect. I thought we were gratefully past the millennial-themed emphasis (leadership in the new millennium, etc.), but apparently not. The invitation was to speak on “leadership in the 21st century.” The dilemma for this speaker is that I don’t think the “new century” is a factor of significance in thinking about leadership. The point being that it misses the point.

The concept of leadership has seen its own evolution. What constitutes a leader and leadership in fields of study and in various contexts have changed over the decades. Over the years some concepts have proven better, more accurate, than others. But I think the fundamental reality of what constitutes effective leadership has always been the same. Having said that, we must confess that the caveat with that sentence is in how one defines effective leadership. If leadership is about getting the job done, then that’s one thing. If leadership is about promoting integrity and health, then it’s another.

I remain intrigued about how people think about leadership. And it’s interesting to see how they struggle when presented with a different way of thinking about it. Here are five fundamental concepts about leadership I often present that tend to challenge how people think about leadership. For many the shift in their paradigmatic thinking is so huge that the first step is to struggle at reconciling the disconnect with what they currently believe.

Personal maturity is the central factor in effective leadership, not management technique, organizational philosophy, or control tactics.
  • A leader who is too concerned about consensus and harmony will more likely enable the destructive forces and processes in the organization.
  • The leader is responsible for his or her position, not for the whole congregation.
  • An organization functions best to the extent its leaders are self-differentiated.
  • The way a leader helps an organization most is by affecting integrity, promoting personal responsibility, and discouraging dependence. 

Adapted from Perspectives on Congregational Leadership, by Israel Galindo. 

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