Seven Concepts on Leadership
November 23, 2015—The concept of leadership has seen its own evolution. What constitutes a leader and leadership in fields of study and in various contexts have changed over the decades. Over the years some concepts have proven more helpful, and more accurate, than others. But I think the fundamental reality of what constitutes effective leadership has always been the same. Having said that, we must confess the caveat with that sentence is in how one defines effective leadership. If leadership is about getting the job done, then that’s one thing. If leadership is about promoting integrity and health, then it’s another.
I remain intrigued about how people think about leadership. And it is interesting to see how they struggle when presented with a different way of thinking about it. At a recent presentation about leadership the program participants carried on a lively debate about leadership and power. The majority equated one with the other: to be a leader is to have power; or, to be a leader is to be a person of power. But power is a concept misapplied in relation to leadership. Strictly speaking, power is energy times time (as my engineer son will tell you). In reality, leadership is more about relational influence than it is about power. Effective leaders understand the difference, and, act accordingly.
Here are seven fundamental concepts about leadership that challenge how we commonly think about leadership. For many, the shift in their paradigmatic thinking is so huge that the first step is to struggle at reconciling the disconnect with what they currently believe.
- Leadership is a function of the system in which it is situated.
- Clarity about the function of leadership is more helpful than metaphors about leadership
- Personal maturity is the core characteristic of leadership, not management technique, organizational philosophy, or control tactics.
- A leader who is too concerned about consensus and harmony will more likely enable the destructive forces and processes in the organization.
- The leader is responsible for his or her position, not for the response of the organization.
- An organization functions best to the extent its leaders are able to consistently function from a stance of differentiation of self.
- The way a leader helps an organization most is by affecting integrity, promoting personal responsibility, and discouraging dependence.
To learn more about leadership from these perspectives, here is a list of resources to consider.
Here are additional opportunities at the Center for Lifelong Learning to learn more about leadership:
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.