Musings on Leadership

Sometimes when you apply unconventional methods, it makes for a unique leadership.

I like motivational or inspirational quotes. In fact, I believe all of us do. They cover virtually every subject in our lives; whether it is grief counselling, the benefits of hard work, encouragement when one feels low, or the choices of friends we make. They are words. In and by themselves, they do not have the power to lift us, move us or change us. And I agree. But they do speak so truthfully to the different situations we find ourselves in and leave us thinking.

One voice in favour of the motivational and inspirational quotes says:

People have an appetite for well-expressed wisdom, motivational or otherwise. Their appeal lies in good wordsmithing, motivational psychology and a measure of self-selection…the message that someone else believes you can achieve what you want to achieve can be a powerful incentive to try harder (

Leaders of organizations, associations, church groups and various other communities are some of the principal users of the inspirational writings. Leadership is never easy, was never meant to be easy. Many times, we have read about or come to a personal knowledge of those who threw in the towel, because the challenge was beyond their wildest imagination. Consider this;

The drill drills on

It does not really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.

This is taken from the dentist’s rooms. But I find it an appropriate commentary on leadership. However difficult or painful leadership may become, the world needs it. So many of the discordant noises which the world hears today are because of leadership that is not willing to faithfully play its role.

I was watching 700 Club recently. One story which did not make world headlines still drew my attention. Police were patrolling the streets and neighbourhoods in Virginia, Norfolk, accompanied by preachers of the Gospel. The police were in their uniforms, while the preachers wore jackets with the word “CLERGY” on them.

After apprehending the gangs, the clergy takes over

The police chief said the approach was adopted after a realization that policing alone did not go far enough in addressing the void, problems and needs which drive the young onto the streets. After apprehending the gangs, the clergy takes over, shares the good news of hope and – yes – goes all the way to the altar calls. Right there on the streets. The church is not always a walled building; police work is not always a mystery. We have a lesson here, namely, adaptive and dynamic leadership in action!

I saw a leadership style worthy of mention in this seemingly simple story. I believe in flexible and transformative leadership. When yesterday’s solutions stop working, a leader with a genuine interest in her flock, association, organization or community, still knows that she wears the tag of “role model.” She must explore other ways of fulfilling the expectations placed upon her.

A paper entitled “5 Dynamic Leadership Characteristics: What Effective Leaders Have” argues in part that:

Leadership characteristics should include an initiative in taking action. When there are conflicts and problems, do you get shaken easily and change direction or do you stay on course and try to make things work out? Will you make a way to do it better and improve things?

It is this vision of unshakeable and dynamic leadership which I saw in the Virginia, Norfolk police chief. In an interview with 700 Club, he said the CLERGY gave the police work a higher degree of acceptability in the communities. This is dynamic leadership in action here; effective leaders acknowledge that they cannot do it alone. Equally importantly, leaders communicate clearly and honestly with other group members.

Having shown their vulnerability, the leaders invite other members to contribute to the smooth running of the group or community. In this way, they strengthen the commitment to the group’s work. Nothing beats the feeling of “we belong!”

“We belong” is best summarized in 1 Corinthians 12: 14, 18 – 20:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many…But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would be the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

An effective leader does not only seek appropriate responses to the situations at hand. Above all, she inspires, empowers and inspires. For, other challenges, other trials for the team, still lie ahead. Another motivational quote?

You are not judged by how tall you stand. You are also judged by how many times you have bent over to help. MT

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