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

Follow the Leader

Written by: on October 27, 2016

The Leadership Mystique, Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise by Manfred Kets De Vries is a workbook collection of academic lectures with real world application. De Vires writing is not a simple “how to” but rather a real insight and reflection into the ever evolving subject of leadership. He begins with defining what leadership is and what it does. Then he delves into a series of lectures highlighting a series of real world leadership issues: EI (emotional intelligence), change resistance, leadership failure, life-draining organizational structure, toxic leadership styles, leadership competency, global leadership demands, leadership styles, succession planning, and leadership development.

De Vries begins with looking at the etymological look at the word: leadership. He defines a leader as: “one who shows fellow travelers the way by walking ahead.” (De Vries, 2). Throughout the book De Vries does just that, he takes the reader on a journey of who, what, where, when, and how concerning the leader and his or her job of leading. The workbook style learning applications throughout the book are a wonder mechanism to explain and apply the various leadership lessons.

The perspective that I noticed throughout was the various tensions. From personalities to disorders, there was an underlying tension given or alluded to each tension. In Emotional Intelligence there is a tension between the right and left brain. The Mussel Syndrome there is resistance to change. In leadership failure there is the dysfunctional patterns of avoidance, power play, transference, falsehood, and pride in the form of narcissism. In the Dilbert phenom there is the tension of value verses devaluation of human capital. Rot at the top deals with tension resulting in the effects of leadership styles and personalities. Characteristics of effective leadership deals with the internal tension of leaders, inner theater verses leadership style verses competencies, and how these result in whole leader. Global leadership deals with tensions resulting from the complexities of a global and connected world, wheel of culture. Leadership roles demonstrates tension through the various differences between leadership and management. Leadership succession deals with the tensions and struggles of the leadership life cycle. Last is leadership development, it is here where the tension of growth comes to light because there is no growth without struggle.

The common thread for me is that leadership is not any easy paved road. Rather, it is a narrow path that is not very worn or well trod. It is not for the faint of heart or the weary traveler, but rather for the courageous. It is less about pedigree, perfect personality, well connected, highly educated individuals and more about the adventurous soul that believes there is a better way. One that is willing to fight with oneself through self reflection and evaluation. One who is tenacious in their pursuit of the mission. One who is willing to take the road less traveled. The leadership journey is filled with tension within and without, but it is the successful management of internal and external challenges that forms the leader and makes him or her suitable as the ultimate guide for others to follow.

About the Author

Aaron Cole

12 responses to “Follow the Leader”

  1. Hey AC. Thanks for this. I agree with you that the leadership road is narrow. I am guessing that is why the author points out that there are so many books written ABOUT leadership. Maybe it’s just easier to write about it and not so easy to be one. You are a great leader!
    You mention that great leaders have “successful management” of their internal and external challenges. Could you share one way you successfully manage one internal and one external challenge?

    • Aaron Cole says:


      Thanks for your kind words. As for internal management, it would be managing the desire to quit because of my personal faults, failures, and struggles. Many times I don’t feel adequate. I choose to continue to move ahead and learn instead of allowing the challenges to overtake me. As for external, this is the areas that people see, I endeavor to manage perception. Being mindful of what I say, how I act or react is very much up to interpretation that I have little or no control over.


  2. Aaron,

    Very clear and concise blog this week. The definition that you quoted from the book is spot on…..He defines a leader as: “one who shows fellow travelers the way by walking ahead.” I have heard of leadership being that but if you are walking ahead and no one is following you then you are just out for a walk…. I think the practical of this week is what is so effective. Did the long list of definitions of people help you in having even more clarity as a leader?


    • Aaron Cole says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. I don’t think the long list of definitions helped me. It is more from my experience that has resonated with this book and others.


  3. Marc Andresen says:


    You included several sentences in your blog that addressed the issue of tension.

    How did reading this book affect your dissertation, and what you imagine yourself writing?

    • Aaron Cole says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. This book is a gold mine of quotes and information for my subject matter. The entire book has leadership tension all over it! As for how it will apply, not quite sure.


  4. Phil Goldsberry says:


    Being a great leader that you are, you said:
    The common thread for me is that leadership is not any easy paved road. Rather, it is a narrow path that is not very worn or well trod. It is not for the faint of heart or the weary traveler, but rather for the courageous.

    Using Ket de Vries’ definition of a leader as one who takes “shows fellow travelers the way by walking ahead”, what are a 2 principles that you live by that keep you courageous in leading fellow travelers?


  5. Aaron Cole says:


    Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. 2 Principles: 1. Is calling – this allows me certainty in my life and leadership when all around me is screaming my faults and inadequacies. 2 is tenacity – Galatians 6:9-10 – don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit.


  6. Jason Kennedy says:


    I am someone who believes that in order to be a good leader, you also should be following as well. Would you agree?


  7. Pablo Morales says:

    I found your concluding paragraph very powerful. Courage and the ability to manage the internal and external challenges is at the core of leadership. It reminds me of the pastoral epistles and the requirements for Eldership. How we manage our inner world (self and home) is a direct indicator of our ability to manage the church. Good blog! Continue to be courageous as you manage your own challenges. Be strong in the Lord!

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