Sunday, 1 August 2010

Poetic, Prophetic and empowering leadership traits for a time of transition and systems failure

Regular readers of this blog know how much Paul Fromont's writing and round ups of theological and spiritual reflections at Prodigal Kiwis contribute to making up for the huge gaps in my own knowledge. About ten days ago Paul posted about the changing leadership challenges and competencies for today's church and world.
Paul points first of all to this post on Next Reformation which is a very stimulating essay by Leonard Hjalmarson looking at complexity in systems and the need for changed models - for revitalising the Ephesians 4 models - in the way we exercise leadership (see APEST on Over the centuries the church has concentrated on developing the shepherd and teacher roles and has found less and less place for apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic gifts. There's also a good reflection on what happens in organisations when systems fail.

The loss of those roles is attributed in part to the Christendom context – a stable and state religion did not know what to do with apostles and prophets and evangelists. I’m also convinced that Alan Roxburgh is right: in times of transition we need the poetic leader type. The poet, like Adam, helps us make sense of our experience. The word in the prologue of John tells how Jesus “became flesh and lived among us.”
I'm very interested in the idea of poetic leadership and can see lots of possibitlites for it - both within and beyond the church. I will have to revisit and re-read the articles linked to from Leonard's posts.

Meanwhile Paul Fromont has slightly reworked and enlarged upon the elements at the end of Leonard's post when looking at the competencies needed and challenges facing leadership - and not just in the churches. I particularly like the look of the Surfing the Edge of Chaos book he links to here, sounds like my sort of thing. That reminds me I've been doing some reading recently about the ancient goddess chaos ... must tap into some of that energy, could make for some interesting poetry!

  • Spirit – corporations are spiritual/material bodies. Health is maintained by unifying the two assets.
  • Purpose – The purpose of the organization is to create “social capital” by serving its telos. Leadership guards the ethos and ensures that the team knows its purpose. 

  • Creativity – The first and most important act is the creative act. Change, youthfulness and energy are requirements until death. 

  • Challenge and response – The task of leaders is to create or recognize the current challenge, respond creatively, and avoid a condition of ease. Reliance on yesterday’s success leads to decline. 

  • Disturb the system – The urgency to decide and act promptly leads to expansion and advance. Surfing the Edge of Chaos - Cover Equilibrium is death [for more on this from a business perspective see the excellent Surfing the Edge of Chaos – church leaders could read it equally profitably]
  • Unity and diversity – Advancing cultures are socially unifying and become diverse in character. Leaders resist the tendency to homogeneity in personalities and skills. 

  • Specialized competence – Specialized knowledge and skills and the integration of those competencies must be pursued vigorously.
  • Efficient administration – is required to achieve integration as differentiation increases. Unchecked administration leads to bureaucracy and self-protection. 

  • End Command and Control – Decisions should be made by those on-the-spot.