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


Written by: on April 21, 2024

A Critique

Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories is a timely book that evaluates the leadership theories that have been around for decades and have had minimal impact on changing corporate behavior. Annabel Beerel, the author, is an accomplished international corporate consultant on leadership and ethics, and she has published various books, several of which are on leadership. Rethinking Leadership was initially started in November of 2019, but when COVID-19 hit, Beerel admits that she had to rewrite the first several chapters because of the lack of leadership she witnessed during the pandemic. As a result of reviewing the mistakes of COVID-19 and her extensive background in leadership, Beerel offers an insightful assessment of the challenges that leaders will face in the uncertain world ahead, the skills that will be needed, and the premise that a new world is emerging and cannot be met with old leadership theories.[1] Several points from Rethinking Leadership were insightful, and I will comment on them in the following sections. The first is a foundational principle from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Secondly, the chapter includes key points on the multigenerational workforce. And lastly, a few comments on courage, the essential leadership skill that will be required in the future.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Beerel reminds us of the foundational principles in Adam Smith’s book, Wealth of Nations, to contrast how far the twenty-first century global capitalist system has come compared to its original intent. According to Beerel on page 3, “not one of the foundational principles” is currently functioning. One of Smith’s fundamental principles was that a free market would consist of small buyers and sellers with equal power levels, ensuring “perfectly competitive markets.” According to the SBA, small businesses (less than 500 employees) make up approximately 99.9% of all US businesses that contribute 43.5% to the gross domestic product; the other.1% of the companies account for the other 56.5% of GDP.[2] This uneven output distribution is only one indicator that confirms Beerel’s assessment that Smith’s principles are no longer operational because the market is dominated by large corporations. Exacerbating this issue is the lack of corporate responsibility, as demonstrated during COVID-19. According to Beerel, few leaders could be found, most lacked any preparation, and even fewer thought through their workers’ health and safety needs.[3] The timely reminder of Smith’s principles on how free markets were intended to operate established a clear baseline to begin the process of rethinking leadership and contrasting what is needed in the global economy.

Multigenerational Workforce

It was fascinating to read the chapter on leading a multigenerational workforce. Beerel’s assessment of the multigenerational workforce was appropriately summed up as having four different generations, which equated to four different cultures, with different values and priorities.[4] This reminded me of the last few months spent working with the community college in North Carolina. I have spent over 15 years at the college working in the same department. I witnessed many changes in leadership, organizational structure, how classes were delivered to students, and the various assessment tests used. I have worked on several special projects to design new registration processes. And I had created new instructional content based on changing federal guidelines.

It was time to move on when the team I was working with was on their third attempt to re-invent a student registration process. I calmly expressed that the process had been tried several times not that long ago and had yet to succeed. I even offered suggestions for how to improve based on the analysis done on the previous solutions. As a side note, my corporate project management experience taught me to complete a project beta test and then debrief to understand what worked versus what didn’t. That type of disciplined approach needed to be more robust at the college I worked at. Typically, what would happen is that during an initial launch or test, at the first sign of a problem, staff would panic and attempt to re-work everything before completion of the project. Fast forward to the new team, comprised of members of the other multi-generations, who insisted on moving full steam ahead with their ideas. The point is that from that experience, the younger team members did not value the insights I had from over 15 years of experience. In Beerel’s book, she recommends ways for the multigenerational team to improve their collaboration. One recommendation is to establish a reverse mentoring relationship where a young team member mentors the older worker. I found that to be backward. Perhaps, this is one reason teams do not move forward: rather than innovate new solutions, they continue to rehash the existing ones rather than try to avoid missteps by relying on team members with prior experience.

In 1 Chronicles 22:1-9, the story of David preparing the way for Solomon is a lesson for all of us working on multigenerational teams. David humbly accepts that he will not be allowed to build the Temple, and he prepares everything Solomon needs for the task. During those years of preparation, David was able to clearly articulate the vision and encourage Solomon that he would be more than able to accomplish the mission.[5] This story reflects the skills needed by all parties operating on any team, especially a multigenerational team. Those skills are humility, respect, communication, the ability to encourage, and long-range planning.


The last insight that resonated with me was Beerel’s argument that to face the challenges and complexities ahead, leaders will need to have an essential ingredient, which is courage.[6] In my Syntopical Essay, I commented on the need for courage as I proceed with my project. I referenced one of Joseph Bentley’s essays, “Life in the Messy Middle.” In it, he focuses on the wicked problems (comparable to what Beerel describes leaders will face). He states that flying in the messy middle is needed. Below is an excerpt from my Syntopical essay on Bentley’s take on courage.

Bentley establishes that we must “face contradictions, complexities, and paradoxes in our lives, and the uncertainties of the consequences of choosing one alternative over another, we hesitate to decide, …we face something for which we are not prepared: life in the messy middle.”[7] And so, his first premise is that to survive in the messy middle, he speaks of the need for courage. Most of our decisions do not require courage, but then there are those life decisions that require one to act courageously despite any fear. Using Aristotle’s view of courage, he expands the concept of courage by considering decisions as the tension between making a reckless decision and cowardice on the other end…before taking action, courage requires one to decide if the action is reckless or worth doing…and while one may feel fear, they do not fail to act.[8]


As leaders, I pray we are all strong and courageous and do the work the Lord has assigned based on our projects. 1 Chronicles 28:20 – NLT.


[1] Annabel Beerel, Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories (New York: Routledge, 2021), 2.

[2] “ The State of Small Businesses Now,” US Chamber of Commerce, April 10, 2023, https://www.uschamber.com/small-business/state-of-small-business-now.

[3] Beerel, Rethinking Leadership, 1.

[4] Ibid., 359.

[5] Dr. Sid Buzzell, Dr. Kenneth Boa and Bill Perkins, editors, The Leadership Bible: Leadership Principles from God’s Word ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), 489.

[6] Beerel, Rethinking Leadership, 6.

[7] Joseph Bentley, ‘Life in the Messy Middle’ Taming Wicked Problems (blog), December 23, 2020, https://tamingwickedproblems.com/life-in-the-messy-middle/.

[8] Bentley, ‘Life in the Messy Middle’ Taming Wicked Problems (blog).

About the Author


Audrey Robinson

16 responses to “Courage”

  1. Tonette Kellett says:

    I’m so thankful we were placed in the same peer group these past two years. Yours is a voice of reason and reconciliation that the world desperately needs. I love your passion and your love for Jesus. Looking forward to being together in just a few short days!

  2. Caleb Lu says:

    Audrey, thank you for sharing your wisdom with me these last few years. I have valued reading and hearing from you!

    The obstacles you run into with a multigenerational workforce reminds me of my initial research with the Chinese heritage church. So much of the focus has been on how the older generations have hindered growth and evolution of churches and specifically for younger generation English speaking congregations. Your blog reminds me that moving forward begins with introspection, which I know is true for individuals but should also be true for organizations and communities.

    It’s funny how without doing that, English-speaking Chinese-Americans struggled with remarkably similar obstacles and situations 60 years ago as they do today.

    • mm Audrey Robinson says:

      I would gladly agree to the reverse mentoring roles Beerel spoke about (the younger mentoring the older) if you were my mentor!

      I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses you.

  3. mm Daron George says:

    Dr. Robinson,

    I love how you brought in 1 Corinthians 22! That is such a great story and a wonderful way to tie it into what we have been reading.

  4. Audrey – This sentence made an impact on me: “Beerel’s assessment of the multigenerational workforce was appropriately summed up as having four different generations, which equated to four different cultures, with different values and priorities.” As you suggested, what if we could harness the collaborative power of all those perspectives? Perhaps we could actually make headway with some of the wicked problems our generation faces.

  5. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Dr. Audrey – Thank you for speaking to the chapter on leading in a multigenerational context. This reminds me of the church. It is interesting that with the number of generations that are present, that it is like different cultures interacting. This divide exists in the church as well. This was a small aspect of my research but I certainly could’ve gone further with it. Leading across generations is a place to be explored!

    • mm Audrey Robinson says:

      Dr. Chad, you are absolutely correct about the church.

      Perhaps this topic will be on your next list of episodes for your podcast.

      See you soon.

  6. Audrey,
    Thank you for bringing to the discussion your thoughts on the intergenerational cultural differences and how we engage in these spaces as leaders. Your wise words are also so timely and I am grateful to learn from you.

  7. Michael O'Neill says:

    Great post , Dr. Robinson. May God continue to bless your journey with Courage, always in Him.

  8. Alana Hayes says:

    Another great post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on cultural differences! You are so wise, and I have so much to learn from you! I am not done! I appreciate you so much!

    I appreciate how you consistently brought in the word with each blog post throughout the last 3 years.

    • mm Audrey Robinson says:

      Dr. Alana, Thank you for the encouraging words!

      We have learned from each other. I’m so blessed to have walked this journey with you.

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