Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Understanding How To Go With The Flow

Written by: on March 7, 2019

In Simple Habits for Complex Times, Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston set out to help leaders navigate through the rise of VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.[1] The style of the book while packed with research and analytical data is written in an easy to digest format that both academics and non-academics will enjoy. Kirkus in viewing the work writes, “Their thoughtful book is a kind of guide for grown-ups; it touts simple habits one can develop but acknowledges there are no simple solutions.”[2] In this same vein the thesis of the authors to the reader is simple and covers three aspects: 1. ask different questions (instead of having the answers), 2. take multiple perspectives (even when we disagree), and 3. see the systems (including emergence), but in reality are hard to implement because often as leaders we are more focused on what we think is right versus bringing others into the conversation.

In, The Dark Side of Transformational leadership: A Critical Perspective, Tourish writes on charismatic leadership saying,

In particular, Maccoby (2000) suggests that many charismatic leaders are narcissists – that is, people with an inordinately well-developed self-image, in which they take great pride and on which they reflect frequently. They are also likely to have a strong need for power, high self-confidence and strong convictions (De Vries et al. 1999). Rather than flexibly responding to feedback, the narcissistic but charismatic visionary leader is inclined to perceive reality through the distorting prism of his or her vision.[3]

Berger and Johnston underline this same perspective and understanding writing,

Now research tells us that charismatic leaders are more likely to leave the organization in a mess; that even when we think we’re making decisions with clear heads, we’re actually responding to unconscious thoughts; and that all-powerful leaders often go all-powerfully wrong.[4]

There were a lot of impactful things in this book, but one of the most significant parts was the understanding of the Cyenfin Framework for decision making. In my context many of the leaders I know still operate from a commonplace mindset (this is how it has been, so we do not need to change) rather than understanding the arena of complexity. The authors state, “complexity is about getting our heads around what is possible (because anything could happen) rather than what is probably going to happen (which is determined from what has happened before).”[5] Seeing that one of Generation Z’s central characterization is “Wi-Fi Enabled”[6] moreover another is entrepreneurship[7] as the Wharton School declares that “already one defining characteristic is abundantly clear: This generation is Wi-Fi enabled”[8] also, research points out that 76% already make their own money part-time.[9] In summation, Gen Z is growing up in an “always on” world and “make your path mindset” which breeds personal and professional complexity. What is the answer for leaders, Berger is helpful again writing;

When leaders really understand that parts of their world really are complex and unpredictable, though, they have a different task. Instead of clarity about what the future will look like, the job for leaders in complex spaces is to get a diverse set of perspectives on the current conditions to make sense of what direction to take. They need to use that sense of direction to create the conditions for people to come up with a set of safe-to-fail experiments to learn from as they reshape the organization.[10]

In the framework of Spirit-led Leadership, the “direction” is set by the Spirit. As we seek to reach and lead Gen Z, we must embrace the curiosity of following the Spirit (which will connect with them in their entrepreneurial spirit) instead of trying to create clarity. Setting safe-to-fail experiments (operating from forgiveness and grace) that will provide space for different perspectives in the complexity we all face.

Great explanation of the Cyenfin Model here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7oz366X0-8


[1]  Berger, Jennifer Garvey. Simple Habits for Complex Times (p. 8). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] Berger, Jennifer Garvey, and Keith Johnston. “Simple Habits for Complex Times by Jennifer Garvey Berger, Keith Johnston.” Kirkus Reviews. Accessed March 7, 2019. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jennifer-garvey-berger1/simple-habits-for-complex-times/.

[3] Tourish, Dennis. The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective, Routledge, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central, 25.

[4] Berger, Jennifer Garvey. Simple Habits for Complex Times (p. 13). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.

[5]Berger, Jennifer Garvey. Simple Habits for Complex Times (p. 11). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.

[6]  White, James Emery. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World (p. 41). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[7] “Is Gen Z The Most Entrepreneurial Generation Ever? [INFOGRAPHIC].” ValueWalk. Last modified December 18, 2018. https://www.valuewalk.com/2018/12/gen-z-entrepreneurial-generation-infographic/.

[8] White, James Emery. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, 41.

[9] Is Gen Z The Most Entrepreneurial Generation Ever? [INFOGRAPHIC].” ValueWalk. Last modified December 18, 2018. https://www.valuewalk.com/2018/12/gen-z-entrepreneurial-generation-infographic/.

[10] Berger, Jennifer Garvey. Simple Habits for Complex Times (p. 146). Stanford University Press. Kindle Edition.


About the Author

Mario Hood

Most importantly, I am married to the love of my life, Misty Hood, and I'm kept on my toes all day every day, by my son Dalen and daughter Cola Hood. I also serve as the Next Generation Pastor at Church On The Living Edge in Orlando, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Dr. Mark Chironna as well as being a Youth and Family Life coach.

6 responses to “Understanding How To Go With The Flow”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Great post Mario – and since my kids are Gen Z, I always read your blogs with that in mind.

    I sort of ask this in my blog but will craft it a bit different for here: What is a ‘safe to fail” church experiment with the Gen Z demographic?

    Thank you!

    • Mario Hood says:

      Great question, one thing we are working on right now is a youtube channel with a video blog type show. In the services, we have moved to Big group (worship and general teaching) and then to small groups (deeper conversations). We have also moved from doing all the leading (adults) to mixing in students who want to lead worship and involve them in the teaching as well.

  2. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Mario, Thanks for your thoughts and perspectives. I am puzzled by your claim that leaders should not be seeking clarity. My perspective is different questions, taking multiple perspectives, and seeing systems are all working together to provide “true” clarity for the leaders and those they are developing as leaders. Also, providing space for safe-to-fail-experiments from all generations, is integral to authentic adaptive leadership. Perhaps, I misunderstood your post. Many blessings on your research and your leadership.

    • Mario Hood says:

      Hi Harry, this is in the context of complexity. When we are not faced with a complex problem then we should always have clarity, but as the book highlights when faced with a complex situation most of the time we don’t know how the issue will be resolved but we, not the direction we want to go and therefore in those times a leaders job is to set the guard rails of failure and success as we are heading towards the intended direction. Hope this answer brings clarity 🙂

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:


    I am really looking forward to your research and dissertation as it will timely for us. I think you have two wonderful starting points for the future, the Holy Spirit who has no problem navigating our times and Gen Z who is showing incredible promise. It leaves us with an important responsibility to guide them well, not in our image, but in God’s image for their generation.

    • Mario Hood says:

      Thank you, Tammy. I’m seeing so much opportunity and hope even while all the news is the church is going to lose a generation, but in my knowledge of Jesus, he has never lost what was his and I don’t think he plans to now!

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