Asking for Directions to Somewhere Over There
Whether you ascribe to the Biblical principles of leadership, “Where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18), “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function …” (Romans 12:4), and “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave …” (Matthew 20:26) or to Frances Hesselbein’s valuing respect and leading by example, “We don’t have to agree with everything everyone says, but we do need to be civil. The ugliness, the personal attacks we see … these are things that should never be said by leaders anywhere about anyone ... You have to live your values. Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do;” or to John Maxwell who claims, “A leader knows the way, goes the way, shows the way;” or to Benjamin Disraeli statement that “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” or to Rosalynn Carter’s belief that, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be,” leaders in times of transformation must lead. When leaders are asked, “Where are you leading us,” from people in a re-forming organization will often demand, the answer about the promised land sounds rather loose with built in abilities to modify at any time, “Somewhere over there” because leadership must be able to become and form as we move toward our goal.
Good leadership recognizes who is moving with the new direction and who is not on board and must make decisions for forward movement adapting toward the new vision of the congregation or organization. No one ever promised adapting would be welcomed or easy. Peace is not the absence of conflict. Those who serve on a board of directors or serve on a session do not do it to be liked. If any individual or group is purposefully going in another direction, decisions need to be made, conversations had, feelings affirmed, and if divisions remain then a parting of the ways should be extended in grace and compassion. If not, families, corporations, organizations, and congregation will be dead in the water.
Organizations, going through a critical transformation need a guidance system, a renewed mission and focused vision, a set of maps to lead them into new territories, a tracking method connected to a greater knowledge to help them see when they get lost. We all need a positioning approach to allow adaptability in order to take a few different paths as we continue moving toward our goals, our promised land, that, “something other” than ourselves that is liberation in order to, as the jester prophetically announced for our road trip, “save your ass.”
The consultant we hired, Dr. Peter Pizor (www.pizor.com), told us that our plan “should be designed to work like a transatlantic airplane whose navigating equipment automatically makes over seven thousand minor tactical adjustments on a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo to keep the plane headed in the right direction.” (Lobaugh; Broken Hearts, Open Doors: The Art of Welcoming Others, pg. 11-13; Inspire Excellence, 2012)
Great leadership consistently adjusts progress and decisions toward the vision and doing everything possible to inspire others to move in the direction of somewhere over there.
What needs to be done to adapt today and be a great leader? What adaptations does your family need from you to lead?
Dr. Tom Lobaugh