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

Command vs leadership

Written by: on November 8, 2013

As I was reviewing this week’s reading I came across this quote, “Will leadership largely be seen as a means of getting ahead, of gaining power, rather than of being understood as a serious professional calling with social responsibilities?[1] in chapter 1 and it reminded me of a leadership principle and truth that I learned several years ago.  This is that there is a difference between leading and commanding the people whom you are leading. As a leader I have to determine how I wish to be viewed and remembered by the individuals whom I led. I can either be remembered as a leader or dictator, as an individual who use people for his own gain or as a leader who cared and supported the individuals I was in charge of.

In the military we are taught to respect the rank and uniform an individual wears and not so much the individual himself. While there is a reason for this type of leadership structure it can foster and promote bad leadership from an individual for the simple fact that you have to do what I say because of the rank my caller or sleeve. I will say that the military has taken great strides to ensure that this does not happen, but no organizations perfect. The same analogy holds true in the private sector with regards to someone who in leadership not because they’re good leader but because:

  1. They may have been promoted from within the company because of their past performance
  2. They can talk a good game and are good politicians.
  3. They may be a good visionary or entrepreneur, but after the business is up and running they have no leadership ability to lead the company or individuals.

The point I am trying to make here is that this is what this week reading assignment is all about. The Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice is a well-written book and I enjoyed reading it, but at the core of it is about leadership vs command. The authors go into a little more theory than what I think they should have, but the practical exhalations are good and clearly stated. They used a lot of words to basically say this is what good leadership is and how we identify it and put it into practice.

The book touches on several key areas including, leading teams, cross-cultural leadership, women in leadership, and leadership development. I appreciated the authors touching on each one of these key points as well as the other topics within the book, but I kept coming back to the core dogma of the book and it is understanding that there is a difference between being the “boss” and being a leader.

A good leadership trait that John Maxwell outlines in one of his books is that the way you can determine if you are a good leader is by your ability to get others to want to follow you not because of the position you hold, but because of the person you are. Leaders inspire and instill a desire in others to want to follow them and work with them. The question I have for us as leaders in the church is how can we move other leaders in the Christian church away from the “I’m the senior pastor I’m in charge dogma” to the understanding that as leaders of the church we are here to serve the congregation and empower and equip them to do the work of the kingdom?

[1] Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (Kindle Locations 112-113). Kindle Edition.

About the Author

Richard Volzke

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