In Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence, Mary Kate Morse does something amazing. She gets us outside of living inordinately inside our heads. That is, it’s not that we are overthinking things (though that can happen); instead, it’s that we have had a tendency to incorrectly be thinking about a lot of things. One such thing often thought about unhelpfully is power.
If you want a subtitle for this book, here’s the redemptive one that I would like to offer from a quote straight out of the book, “how power used well can make a big difference in someone’s life.” It does seem that there are a lot of times when those “with power” are one’s that haven’t really reflected upon their power and how it is affecting them and others around them. As well, it seems like there are a lot of times when those “without power” have thought about such aspects, but are not appropriating their giftedness due to a variety of reasons. Mary Kate Morse’s book is about changing this dynamic and she does a good job of getting at it.
Recently, I have been reading quite a bit on economy and its relation to the practice and understanding of faith. In this book too, Mary Kate in her discussion of leadership notes Jesus’ practice of self-giving hospitality in relation to economic structures in contradistinction to a primary orientation of self-focused consumption. She focuses on the idea of sharing over taking.
Leading the way that Jesus led is in one way, shape or form incumbent upon all of us who follow Christ. Actually, perhaps it would be just as well to write “living” as well as “leading.” A piece in Morse’s book I find refreshing is when she writes, “Although Jesus had a tremendous amount of power he did not refer to himself as a leader or a king. Yet no one else has influenced this world as much as Jesus has.” This should be eminently encouraging to us. It’s not the kind of understanding that will make all of the problems of the world disappear, but it will assist in recalibrating our perspectives which well might make a number of the problems of the world disappear.
Over my years in leadership, one thing that I have desired to exemplify is authenticity and openness to participation. Of course, like any person, there are days when I am better at this and days which I could have been better. But, overall, I think that due to my focus on these aspects and my desire to live into them well, I have done reasonably well at making this part of my practice. Certainly, I see many people in leadership positions that at the very least don’t seem to be actively working to exemplify this. I hope to influence more people along these lines and it is encouraging to have Morse write a bit about this.
“Authentic leadership – leadership that catalyzes a group toward deep change and moves its members in positive, energizing directions – involves the group acting together.”
Navigating the waters of leadership is anything but simple. However, by the grace of God and with some training and ongoing practice I think that we all can come together a bit more and accomplish greater goals than we expect.