Simon Walker is the CEO of STEER, a UK based company in which he leads the research team in projects that describe and apply to how steering cognition influences human society.
If you are like me, you might be wondering what the heck is steering cognition. Well, thanks to one of the four, google says, steering cognition describes how the brain biases attention toward specific stimuli whilst ignoring others, before coordinating responsive actions which cohere with our past patterns of self-representation. Simply put, your past has more influence on the present then we care to admit! Walker covers the effects of steering cognition on leadership in his trilogy of books called The Undefended Leader.
The critical metaphor Walker uses to help us understand how leaders are shaped is that of a stage play. In a stage play, there is the front stage and the backstage. The front stage is where we present ourselves and act out for the audience. It is while we are on the front stage that we invite others to join the drama we are presenting. The backstage, on the other hand, is where all the doubts, fears, and hang-ups we have are played out. As a result, a leader finds themselves leading two lives, a public one (front stage) and a private one (backstage) both of the lives are connected in ways that are healthy or ways that are unhealthy. Getting to the root of these ways or defenses is the key.
Walker says, “Leadership is about who you are, not what you know, or what skills you have. Why is this? There are two reasons: leadership is about trust, and it is about power.” This fits well into my research as I am focusing on leadership as being (as in ontologically) and relational. Trust and power, for me, are the two pillars that define any relationship. Another thing He says that was helpful was, “Leadership is a task that occurs at every level of life and in every kind of sphere … Leadership is a way of offering life to the world, in order to draw life out of the world. As such, it is a spiritual activity”, again this fits well into the paracletic (Spirit-led) notion of my research, as the Spirit is not limited to just a few people, but the Spirit should lead all.
Finally, one of the most important keys I took away from Walker was his understanding of the goal of leadership. Even though I knew I was being set up as he was describing leadership in terms of success, I felt myself nodding my head and saying yes, I agree. He then drops the bomb and says, “the only proper goal of leadership is this: to enable people to take responsibility My belief is that leadership is concerned with the task of helping people to move towards fully mature, responsible personhood.” I think Friedman would agree, and I do as well. Yes, we will have tasks to accomplish and things we need to measure, but underneath those things, if the foundational goal is not rooted in conforming to the image of Christ, what are we genuinely leading people too?
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (The Undefended Leader Trilogy Book 1), 5, Kindle Edition.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (The Undefended Leader Trilogy Book 1), 154, Kindle Edition.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (The Undefended Leader Trilogy Book 1), 153, Kindle Edition.
5 responses to “And….Action”
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Hey Mario, sometimes I think our brains/minds got cloned. I wrote about my take away being “the goal of leadership” as well.
Great post, Mario – and nice dig at Google. I am excited to hear more about your research!
Mario, I like your concluding remarks on the only proper goal of a leader as enabling people to take responsibility. I find this clearly reflected in the Bible. Paul in Ephesians 4:11-12 states God’s purpose in the five fold ministry which is the perfection of the saints for the work of ministry. The leaders (Apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors and teachers) in reality, are there, to enable the saints to mature enough to take responsibility in doing the work of ministry.
Mario, I love how you connected this post to your research. I do think the goal of leadership presented by Walker is interesting and true for certain leaders, but I do think some leaders just point you in the right direction. This is especially true with leading children. I am excited to see how this all fits with your research.
Stellar post Mario. I love how you highlight this section of Walker – not only does it weave so well into your research, but it also is an applicable pastoral strategy as well. Your church is so blessed to have you!