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Leading is Complicated

(Creative Commons License)
(Creative Commons License)

By Ed Jordan

Leadership is an extremely complicated subject. There are thousands of books on the subject, as well as thousands of classes designed to explore concepts of effective leadership. One of the best books I have ever read on the subject of leadership is Perspectives on Congregational Leadership by Dr. Israel Galindo.

I know that a book is outstanding when I find myself underlining every sentence and even certain phrases as useful information to revisit.  Galindo’s book is a goldmine of pragmatic and intelligent information on the subject of leadership.

There are a myriad of definitions and models regarding leadership.  Merely reflecting on the types of leadership styles can have one’s head swimming. Just to mention a few, these include: totalitarian, dictatorial, authoritative, top down, directive, administrative, managerial, board-led, leader-led, group consensus, democratic, poll or popularity directed, passive, CEO-type leadership, servant leadership, and situational leadership.

However, all of these focus on only one ingredient of leadership, i.e. the person or persons perceived to be those who set the direction or objectives in the organization. But leadership is not a simple, personality or charismatic driven endeavor, nor is it a monolithic formula.

Leading does not just involve the person or group delegated as the leaders.

Leading does not just involve the person or group delegated as the leaders. Leading involves the interaction of leaders with organizations, and the relationships developed between all the participants in the organism.

A very capable methodical leader can assume leadership in any particular group and perhaps still not be able to develop the relationships and chemistry required to lead.  Styles and methods that worked in one setting are not guaranteed to work in another.

Why? Because the circumstances are constantly changing, the participants are continually changing, as are the environments and market forces within which all of these are functioning. These are some of the reasons why leading is complicated.

Leading is a living, adapting, moving interaction of those participating, not a canonized, set in concrete, unchanging lifeless formula.

Leading is a living, adapting, moving interaction of those participating, not a canonized, set in concrete, unchanging lifeless formula. A simple illustration of this is seen in parenting. When our children are very young, and the primary persons in their lives are the parents, without much peer interaction, and often our parenting skills seem to work quite well.

But children do not stay young, nor do they perpetually respond to the same style of leading. They soon learn to resist, to exert influence, and perhaps to manipulate the parents. With every new personality added to the situation, people who then also add other perspectives and needs to the system, leading children can become more and more difficult.

So leading involves creating and maintaining a climate where the active contributions of all the members of the organization, using their variety of gifts, can help formulate and accomplish the goals of the organization (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6). When speaking of effective leading in an organism called the Church, Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NASB): “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Successful functioning requires each person to be active in the agenda that betters the whole. Leading involves the whole process of unearthing the common aspirations and mission of the organization, contributing to fostering an environment where the members are motivated to contribute their ideas, abilities, and energy to together accomplish what they cannot do alone.  Leading is complicated.

Are you regularly contributing your abilities and energy to the success of the organizations of which you are a part?

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.