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

Consider the Possibilities: The Dynamics of Leadership

Written by: on November 10, 2013

The Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, is a wealth of knowledge for those teaching and interested in the practice of leadership. What is leadership? It is obvious there are multiple styles in leading; however, what defines “good” leadership is differentiated by the variety of leadership situations and opportunities. There are a large number of books relating to leadership readily available, however, in some ways this book is quite unique. The authors express concern that within academia there has not been sufficient research on leadership and they indicate the specific purpose of the essays presented in the book is to “stimulate serious scholarly research on leadership.”[1] According to Nohira and Khruana, there has been an increased recognition by leading business schools of the need for better leadership training which has resulted in a clearer mission statement and a more deliberate and stringent attempt by these institutions to meet higher standards in leadership training. At least one motivating factor in the renewed emphases on research and classroom instruction has been the disconnect “between the mission and everyday practice…” (Ibid, loc 93). In this case, the authors are addressing the fact that in many business schools, the mission is not being carried out in the academic classroom setting.

The author’s clearly stated purpose allows for a better use of the book in the context of our [cohort] present course of study.  As with course introductory books in critical thinking, theology, and social theory, Nohira and Khruana’s handbook on leadership has provided a reference book for leaders which  will be helpful in our leadership development and in disciplining leaders. The five sections distribute the leadership topics into twenty-six chapters which permit the coverage of a large breath of material into portions that stand alone. With a difficult reading and research schedule[2] this week, the essays by multiple authors allowed me to peruse the material and highlight the applicable areas where I experience the challenge of leading.

The essays offered encompass a broad spectrum of leadership subjects that are relevant to leadership in a global context. In particular, the definitions and applications of leadership styles and leadership in times of change and transition clarify the need and role of those who are sharing in positions of leadership responsibility. As leaders in the Christian church, we are confronted with establishing identity and leading through transition and change. Numerous essays spoke to the effort to lead cross-culturally in a global context. Marshall Ganz[3] in “Leading Change” defines leadership in terms that are relevant in the context of global philosophical change. The church leader must define who we are in current cultural context. It is essential to understand and accept the local-global diversity in cultural contextualization and the insecurity and ambiguity of mission and purpose in the present society. Ganz states, “Leadership is accepting responsibility to create conditions that enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty” (Ibid, loc 6451). We lead as we tell the story of our commitment to a common future as we build on a shared past.  Building relationships in transition and change provides “social capital” as a result of shared purpose and the commitment of sharing resources.

Additional leadership concepts are expressed through innovation[4] as leaders create a consensus for belonging and co-opting for shared community by “developing the individual and collective capacity for co-design.” (Ibid, loc 7527, italics original). Applying innovative leadership recognizes that potential and creative genius can only be developed in community and the individual’s innate ability to create and innovate is fully expressed through social interactions (Ibid, loc 7537). It is in this context that leadership concepts interact with social theory making the achievement of identity and shared purpose possible.

I learned this week at my mod1 research project that leaders must lead, that is; step-up in taking charge of the bridge-building processes that lead to innovative and creative change in cross-cultural relations. Christena Cleveland in Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart, refers to this as the “extended-contact hypothesis’ which states “people who are friends with people who are friends” are “more likely “to break down barriers” as they “model cross-cultural relationships.”[5] This aligns closely with the style of “leading from behind” (Ibid, see note4).  Leaders bring unity as they shape individual and collective experiences into a common design and purpose. In a similar manner, Alvin Sanders in Bridging the Diversity Gap: Leading Toward God’s Multi-ethnic Kingdom, indicates that leadership must be “transformational.”[6] By this he means that leaders must always advocate for unity through innovative change but they do so through cooperative community advocacy; another way of saying we lead from behind. He metaphorically refers to this as the “ripple of the ripple effect” (Ibid). Sanders states that as individual leaders “we are to practice what we preach; and corporately, we are to preach what we practice” (Ibid).

Understanding principles and practices of leadership is an on-going developmental process. The Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice is a major resource that will provide continuing inspiration and guidance in this process.

[1] Natin Nohría. Rakesh Khurana, eds., Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice(Harvard Business Press, 210), loc 76.

[2] Note: This week’s schedule included four days to attend the conference, “The Multi-ethnic Church – 2013” sponsored by Mosaix Global Network., Long Beach CA.

[3] Marshal Ganz, “Leading Change: Leadership, Organization, and Social Movements,” loc 6447 – 6969.

[4] Linda A. Hill, Maurizio Travag, Greg Brandeau and Emily, Stecker, “Unlocking the Slices of Genius in Your Organization: Leading for Innovation,” loc 7495 – 8082.

[5] Christena Cleveland, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart(Downers Grove, IVP Books, 2013), 173.

[6] Alvin Sanders, Bridging the Diversity Gap: Leading Toward God’s Multi-ethnic Kingdom (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House,2013), 162-163.

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