Leadership- then and now

O Lord you are there to help!Leadership was once about hard skills such as planning, finance, and business analysis. When command and control ruled the world, organization leaders were heroic rationalists who moved people around like pawns and fought like stags. When they spoke, the staff jumped.

Today, organizational leadership is increasingly concerned with soft skills—teamwork, communication, and motivation. Sadly for many top-level leaders, the soft skills remain the hardest to understand, let alone master.

Leadership in a modern organization is highly complex and increasingly difficult. Among the most crucial skills is the ability to capture your listener’s attention. Leaders of the future will also have to be emotionally efficient. They will promote variation rather than promoting people in their own likeness. They will encourage experimentation and enable people to learn from failure. They will build and develop people.

This may be too much to expect of one person. In the future, we will see more leadership groups rather than individual leaders. This change in emphasis from individuals towards groups has been charted by the leadership guru, Warren Bennis. In his work Organizing Genius, he concentrates on famous ground-breaking groups rather than individual leaders. “None of us is as smart as all of us,” says Professor Bennis. “The Lone Ranger is dead. Instead of the individual problem-solver, we have a new model for creative achievement. People like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney headed groups and found their own greatness in them.”

Professor Bennis provides a blueprint for the new model leader. “He or she is a pragmatic dreamer, a person with an original but attainable vision. Inevitably, the leader has to invent a style that suits the group. The standard models, especially command and control, simply don’t work. The heads of groups have to act decisively, but never arbitrarily. They have to make decisions without limiting the perceived autonomy of the other participants. Devising an atmosphere in which others can put a dent in the universe is the leader’s creative act.”

The role of the new model leader is ridden with contradictions. Paradox and uncertainty are increasingly at the heart of leading. Many leaders don’t like ambiguity, so they try to shape the environment to resolve the ambiguity. This may not be the best thing to do—the most effective leaders are flexible, responsive to new situations. If they are adept at hard skills, they surround themselves with people who are proficient with soft skills. They strike a balance.

The “leader as coach” is yet another phrase more often seen in business books than in the real world. Acting as a coach to a colleague is not something that comes easily to many senior-level leaders. It is increasingly common for executives to benefit from a mentoring relationship. They need to talk through decisions and to think through the impact of their behavior on others in the organization.

Today’s leaders regard leadership as drawing people and disparate parts of the organization together in ways that makes individuals and the organization more effective.

Adapted from Jonathan Farrington, What Leadership Was and What It Will Become 11 March 07

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Is church’s vitality linked with percentage of seniors?

Lord thanks for the seniors!According to FACT surveys conducted by Hartford Institute for Religion Research, between 2005 and 2008, fewer congregations report they are spiritually vital and alive, have seen worship attendance growth of 2% or more, or have a clear mission and purpose. Just 19% say their current financial health is excellent vs. 31% in 2000. Old-line Protestant congregations confront a special challenge. Their memberships are significantly older than any other faith family. In fact, in nearly six of every ten old-line congregations, 25% or more are 65 or older. This is nearly twice any other faith family and nearly three times as great as evangelical Protestant congregations. One unfortunate corollary of a congregation%s age structure is that on average, the more seniors, the lower a congregation’s vitality.-HIRR Notes 9/9/09

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Who’s your favourite worship leader, dad?

Lord thanks for those who lead us in worship“Who’s your favourite worship leader?” my daughter asked.

We were listening to some worship songs in the car.

I could not answer her immediately. My mind did a quick search.

Don Moen?  Bob Fitts? Michael W. Smith?

Chris Tomlin? Graham Kendrick? or Terry MacAlmon?…

Then my mind went back to church. To the guys that lead us in worship, Sunday after Sunday, dedicated to their And for musicians too I thank youcalling, passionate in honing their craft, waiting on the Lord. They are the ones who together with the music and AV teams  facilitate the church’s worship of God. Each of the worship leader had been used by God to usher us into His felt presence. Some had been used more superlatively than others. For me it had to be pastor Simon Tan.

So I told my daughter, “Simon Tan.”

She smiled.

Maybe she expected me to say Darlene Z, or Clark Kent,  or something like that.

Yes I like them both, but it is when the church gathers on Sunday led by one from our midst that I experience worship in Spirit and truth, so my favourite is a local homegrown.

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