Wednesday, July 16, 2003

On Leadership, Teams and Community

Without vision the people perish... Without a leader with the full understanding of the goals and purposes the activities of the best run community will still not accomplish much substance. Leaders do not have to have titles or be recognized but they do have to be present. Governance by community assumes that there are natural leaders that will guide the community to a common objective... and if the leaders are present that will likely happen... but if the group has no natural leader it will simply be busy doing what it already does and growth will not occur, or will occur coincidentally. Thinking in social terms... a neighborhood that "springs up" grows only be accident... a planned community that is laid out with street plans and zoning, forethought putting supporting businesses and facilities around will grow far more rapidly and with more staying power.

If Jesus is the model of servant leadership then we can assume that the way he interacted with his disciples is consistent with the way he would have us interact with ours. Although we have no indications that he ordered or coerced anybody to do anything, he encouraged them to move out on many occasions and strategically sent them several times... Luke 9 and 10 with the 12 and later the 70... he gave them a vision and a purpose and then told them to go execute the plan. No question that they recognized him as their leader and looked to him for guidance and direction, but he still washed their feet and preferred them over himself to the point of laying down his life for them.

The power of teams over the dictatorial models we have embraced in the past is the involvement of the individual in the carrying of the vision. A team member that has embraced the vision will be more faithful to the task and more energetic in the pursuit of that cause. Dictators must be diligent in recruitment and motivation or those in the trenches exhaust themselves and lose their sense of purpose. When the frontline owns the vision and has had input into the strategies being pursued the motivation is internal and not external. However, a team without leadership is likely to own a vision that is no vision at all. The natural tendency of a group is to move toward that which is most comfortable... even with direction to move counter to the previous standard they will almost always slide back to that which they know and find most comfortable. This slide back toward "normal" is deceptive and rarely will be noticed from inside the group. The presence of a leader is the best way to encourage the team away from "normal" and toward "uncomfortable".

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