leadership - a simple word that produces so much reaction, so many books, and still manages to remain elusive and enigmatic! but there's no doubt leadership exists. when you deny it it has a habit of popping up in the wrong sort of way. on the cms pioneer mission leadership training we've just finished a module on mission leadership that was absolutely brilliant led by jim barker. it's really got me thnking about the whole area in a new way. jim used a lot of simon walker's undefended leader work as part of that.
all that is by way of saying i recently bought a small book on leadership by keith lamdin finding your leadership style which i really recommend if you are interested in leadership. keith is the prinicpal of sarum college in salisbury. i have got to know him over the last few years through the regional board that collaborates on issues of theological education and liked him from the word go and have found he combines openness with wisdom. this book could only have been written by someone who has been reflecting on leadership for some time - it's like a mature wine or a distilled single malt. it's short (116 pages hooray!) but it's as though every idea and concept has been thought about hard and then worked on to be communicated in a simple way. this is a rare gift in an area that can be as laced with jargon and complexity as any other academic area. he maps six styles of leadership - monarch, warrior, elder, contemplative, prophet, servant and unpacks each. but in doing so he does a couple of things beyond exploring that style. one is to give an overview of the whole literature on leadership so if an idea such as vulnerable leadership grabs you there's plenty of links to follow up on other books. i circled several books to follow up on. the second is the conversation and insights threaded through the whole giving keith's take. there are some real nuggets in there.
keith has been involved in teaching and coaching leaders in the church for many years. his summary of what leaders do is framed around discontent with the way things are, vision for how they could be better and courage to imagine and go and lead there. he reflects that the two predominant models in the church are warrior and monach - that may not be a surprise but i found quite depressing to be reminded of. further he suggests there is a sort of hidden contract of dependency and in fact leadership is possible framed as much by the culture of those who want to be led as it is by the leader...
The people we select to be our clergy and bishops often turn put to be exactly the kind of people who are keen to take our projections and begin to believe them so cementing this dependency culture into a fortress in which the price of safety for everyone is imprisonment...
he speculates that in a postmodern environment the spirit of the monarch needs to give way to the wounded healer. he suggests that the other four are much more suited to mission or being in the community space beyond the walls of the building. they are certainly the ones i am more drawn to. i was pleased to see the prophet included as there is still not much around on that and it's a difficult style to lean into i think. he makes some comments throughout about power which of course is tied up with leadership and in one reflection comments
I cannot find anywhere in the Gospels any instance when Jesus used position power to force his will. He was undoubtedly outspoken and forceful in his speech, but in the temptations he explicitly rejected the prospect of using his power to bring about his wishes, he never sacked his disciples, and on the cross he chose the way of service rather than power.
what an extraordinary reminder! he ends with a chapter on resources and habits and practices worth setting in place to help support leaders and keep you human over the long term.