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

An agile leader

Written by: on October 24, 2014

Manfred Kets De Vries’s book The Leadership Mystique; leading behavior in the human enterprise was a refreshing read. Leadership is such a board subject and it is sometimes difficult to find practical material that delivers on everyday strategies on leadership. I am particularly drawn to leadership strategies that seek to encourage the development of leadership skills and capacity in people for action. The availability of faithful and trained leaders in a community increases the likelihood of problem solving in the event of certain challenges. De Vries writes, “the most effective leaders are those who can reframe complex situations. By changing how they perceive a problem, the alter what they see”[1]

In a broken and ever changing world, the structures and unjust systems seem insurmountable to address at times. Negative voices are quick to pose the question, “why even bother”? However, its the solemn duty of a leader to listen, discern and determine if certain issues are putting human worth at grave risk. Leadership calls for responses from people who are willing to exercise grace, to sacrifice and persevere in the presence of the sounds of negative voices, self-doubt and the temptation of perfectionism.

De Vries notes, “in general, resilient people deal with emotionally difficult problems proactively, reframe experiences in a positive way, have a great capacity to fantasize a more optimistic picture of the future, give themselves time for self-reflection, and work hard at maintaining a network of supportive relationships.”[2]

I am a firm believer in the importance of being agile in a culturally appropriate way, with the quest for truth based solutions as the end goal. Otherwise if a corrective solution is not in focus, then why should what we do matter? Agile leaders might be perceived as strong and go-getters, but pain is one aspect that every leaders experiences in life.  It is increasing occurring to me that embarrassing positive change can be painful as well. Negative alternations are certainly miserable, but yet some degree of pain is still common to both the positive and the negative. Scripture mentions: “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”[3]

The discomforts of leadership are part and parcel of a leader’s life. This is why it is important to have the company of confidants, trusted friends and a community in the life of anyone who is mindful of the need engage in any leadership role in society. Self-awareness can be helpful in enhancing one’s need for humility. Iorg writes:

Our sin contributes to the pain we experience as leaders. A call to Christian leadership doesn’t superspirtiualize a ministry leader. We still walk on clay feet. We still struggle with sin. Our choices impact our leadership effectiveness, and sinful choice can create painful circumstance.[4]

Above all, one’ ability to trust in God for guidance, wisdom, provision and strength is indispensable. Agile leaders might face difficulties and slip but by God’s grace they do get back up again.




[1] Manfred Kets De Vries. The Leadership Mystique; leading behavior in the human enterprise. (London, England; Pearson Education. 2001) 9.

[2] Ibid., 89.

[3] Romans 5:3-5

[4] Jeff lorg. The Painful Side of Leadership: Moving Forward Even When It Hurts. (Nashville: B & H Publishing, 2009) 5.

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

6 responses to “An agile leader”

  1. Julie Dodge says:

    As always, Michael, your work is thoughtful and applicable. I also found the book refreshing. I also appreciate that you included one of my favorite passages from Romans 5. Pain is a reality of being human. Rare is the leader who is able to see it as opportunity, and not embarrassment. Of course, many acknowledge the reality of pain and failure as a part of the growth process,but truly embracing it, claiming it, taking responsibility, and the persevering to health, healing and hope… Well, that’s the hard part, isn’t it?

  2. John Woodward says:

    Michael, what a thoughtful and insightful post. I appreciate hearing your passion for leadership and its value in calling people to action, especially in light of those issues when “human worth is at great risk.” I see so many of the characteristics you write about in your life, and I can tell that you truly lead with your heart, from a place of deep concern and passion for others. I appreciate your insights into the pain and suffering that is involved in leadership. This is something we little talk about. Often we leaders think that if we experience conflict, hardship, criticism or suffering, that somehow we are off track, that we are failing as leaders. You rightly point out, that pain is a normal part of being a leader, for a number of positive reasons (correction, that change always comes with pain, etc.). But, at least in my part of the world, we are all about pain-avoidance. I am wondering, do you think, that this fear of conflict and suffering might contribute to so many weak leaders? Does it create less desire for action…or a willingness to stand up for truth? It seems ironic that we lead in the name of the one who suffered and died, but most of us don’t really want to go there! There is much here, Michael, to think about. You always stimulate my thinking!

  3. Michael…
    A wise, thoughtful and challenging post … as usual! 🙂 You drew upon Kets de Vries attention to a leader’s need for resilience. I am learning that resilience is not teflon where we are unemotional, unattached individuals unaffected by circumstances or situations — criticisms (sometimes rightly so) from others.

    So grateful that you mentioned resilience. I am learning how vital that is. Resilience goes beyond the supportive (and very necessary) network to draw upon healthy boundaries, knowing we are enough. So much of our work and life today is anchored in not doing enough that we lose a sense of direction. In the seminary course on shame and grace I co-teach “shame resilience” is taught as a spiritual discipline. It means there is “pain” at understanding what shame is (and isn’t), wrestling with “good” shame and practicing resiliency.

    Your post highlighted the richness in the book we read, as well as the challenge. Thank you!

  4. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Michael, beautiful post! You remind me what it means to be a good leader. I appreciate you emphasizing the importance of listening, discerning, and maintain a network of supportive relationship both for our discipleship and leadership life. You also highlighted that “discomfort” is part of leadership style, which we tend to forget. Thank you!

  5. Michael! You are the leadership Man!
    Like you, I too found this book too be filled with “practical material that delivers on everyday strategies.”
    Really like your statement, “Leadership calls for responses from people who are willing to exercise grace, to sacrifice and persevere in the presence of the sounds of negative voices, self-doubt and the temptation of perfectionism.” So often it is the temptation of perfectionism that blocks me. I don’t want to do a letter, a post, a project without perfection. I procrastinate knowing that it won’t be perfect and then the project never gets done or I have to do it rushed and it ends up worst than had I done it little by little. Having done said project in a rush manner I then get the pain of not doing it to my highest ability. You would think that this leader would change his ways but change is difficult when life patterns have been set in place. I am trying my brother! Pray that I do not follow this pattern of procrastination with my dissertation or it will lack perfection. 🙂

  6. Deve Persad says:

    Hey Michael, I’m late to this party but not any less impressed by your article. The highlight for me is when you say: “The discomforts of leadership are part and parcel of a leader’s life. This is why it is important to have the company of confidants, trusted friends and a community in the life of anyone who is mindful of the need engage in any leadership role in society. ” What a poignant reminder that despite the challenges that come with leadership, we must be able to face with a trusted group of confidants, co-labourers. I am thankful to have benefited from people like in my leadership roles and was reminded of the significance of those relationships even this week. Thanks for keeping us sharp.

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