Mentoring: Training the second line of leadership

by N. Ashok Kumar

May 21, 1991, dawned as usual. New Delhi was gorgeous, with flaming red flowers of gulmohar trees adorning the streets of India’s capital. Thousands of people crowded the streets, malls, and old bazaars as usual, enjoying the last days of spring and dreading the oppressive humidity and heat that would soon come their way. But before the day was over, the city and entire country were engulfed in sorrow, tears, and a fear of the unknown. Rajiv Gandhi, then prime minister of India, was assassinated in the distant south.

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Leadership by wisdom and example

by Miroslav Pujic

Having already established postmodernism’s aversion to authority and organizational truth, how is a church leader meant to function? Robert Clinton, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, defines a Christian leader as a person “with God-given capacity and God-given responsibility to influence specific groups of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.”1 Accepting this definition, we see that postmoderns will see leaders in ways that we find unfamiliar.

Wise Christian leaders will take this opportunity to lead by example, not appealing to organizational authority or church position but engaging individuals in a way that Jesus did when He referred to His disciples as friends (John 15:15).

We also need to recognize not to follow leadership models from politics or government. Jesus referenced such “lording” it over others and told His disciples very clearly “it shall not be so among you” (Matt. 20:26).

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Leadership Styles

By William Bergquist

Leaders in the premodern era tended to be great men and women who were selected for their character and education. Great men not only led organizations, they also influenced history and established societal values. Leaders were either born to greatness or provided with an elitist program of liberal arts and mentorship. They tended to exert authority through a paternalistic concern for the welfare and proper education of those who depended on them.

By contrast, the more democratic modern era tends to emphasize structures, processes and procedures that ensure the appropriate expression of leadership and influence. Events and structures—not great people—determine the course of modern history, and values are identified as products of the system and bureaucracy rather than as products of any specific individual(s). Emphasis was thus placed not on identifying or producing a great leader (as in the premodern society), but on constructing a great system. Those who head modern organizations typically define themselves as managers rather than leaders. They were to manage and be worthy stewards of the great system that had been created by other people (the nameless and faceless designers of bureaucracies). Modern authority is expressed through the autonomy of rules, regulations, roles and organizational structures.

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Leadership in A Postmodern Age

By Mitch McCrimmon

In an age of escalating uncertainty, the idea that leadership means being in charge of a group is obsolete. Rapid change and innovation require a less static, hierarchical concept of leadership. Wherever success depends on a diversity of ideas, leadership becomes fragmented into discrete impacts, no longer an ongoing role.

Being in charge of a group means having the authority to call the shots which, in turn, requires knowing what needs to be done. But a vision is only possible if the leader knows where the group should go. As uncertainty rises, we turn increasingly to the "wisdom of the crowd" for leadership. The power of knowledge, now fragmented, resides in diversity rather than in the individual sage. Leadership is radically dispersed wherever complexity reigns.

When leadership emerges in a crowd, it is not about one person rising to the top but rather a hundred voices each having small, one-off impacts on the crowd's ultimate decision. This is postmodernism: no ultimate authorities, fragmentation, everyone's voice gets a hearing.

Why bother? Businesses that need innovation to survive defeat themselves by positioning leadership as a top-down function. This fosters dependency and stifles the creative thinking of knowledge workers with the potential to show leadership bottom-up. Such leadership is not about taking charge of one's boss. Rather, it simply means influencing a change in direction. Implementation, a separate step, can be managed by those in charge.

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Leadership as Influence

By Mitch McCrimmon

If leadership is an influence process then it can't be a role or type of person. Thinking through what leadership-as-influence means helps us see how all employees can show leadership regardless of the type of person they are or their role.

We normally think of a leader as a person in charge of a group. But if leadership is indeed a role, then influence must be only one of the ways that leaders behave. Such leaders sometimes influence us while also making decisions for us and doing other things to help the group succeed. Conversely, defining leadership as influence excludes making decisions for us because deciding is not a form of influence.

Leadership Defined

As an influence process, leadership can be defined as follows: showing the way for others either by example or by overtly advocating a better way.  Such a broad definition includes examples of leadership that we wouldn't normally consider:

    The successful bottom-up promotion of new products or processes
    Martin Luther King, Jr. having a leadership impact on the U.S. Supreme Court when he campaigned against segregation on buses.
    A green leader having a leadership impact on communities around the globe.
    GE's  drive to be number one in its markets having a leadership impact on other companies.
    Apple's leadership impact on competitors in music, computers and mobile telephony.
    A CEO promoting a new vision.

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