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

Leadership development starts with leadership selection

Written by: on October 24, 2013

The Leadership Mystique by Manfred Kets De Vries is one of the best practical books on leadership that I have read.  In the book he covers the full range of leadership aspects, from the ‘inner life’ of a leader, to dealing with change, understanding failure, characteristics of effective leadership, to global leadership profile, and leadership development.  The theme of his book is summed up by his statement, “My main objective in studying leadership is to bring the person back into the organization… . Far too many organizational specialists give structures and systems precedence over people.” (xix).  The purpose of his book is to be “a workbook, a volume that uses practical exercises to actively engage practicing executives who what to learn more about leadership and its vicissitudes – individuals who want to increase their leadership effectiveness.”

My review will focus on one chapter that is of particular interest, chapter 12 Leadership Development.  Many good quotes before and after that chapter caught my attention.

  • “The most effective leaders are those who can reframe complex situations.  By changing how they perceive a problem, they alter what they see.” (9).  I actually used this tactic one day after reading it.  I was meeting with a pastor that I am mentoring and we were discussing an issue when it dawned on me that I was approaching it in the same analytical and customary way (for me) and that I was coming up with similar solutions which had failed before!  I suggested to the pastor that we look at the issue through a ‘different window‘ and try to see solutions rather than fixes.  Within minutes we hit upon a really good alternative approach which we will implement immediately.
  • “There are three kinds of leaders: rule takers, makers, and breakers.  The breakers are those that reframe problems and get extraordinary results.”  (pg. 9)  This is what we call “out of the box” thinking.  Related to the above quote, this is certainly not a new idea.  However, we need someone who will remind us how much we are ‘in the box’ and when we need to get out!
  • “The higher up a person is in an organization, the more important emotional intelligence becomes (and the less important technical skills become).”  (pg. 32).  This is obvious but nonetheless critically important.
  • “Organizations dominated by control, complacence, and compartmentalization (the three C’s) are being outpaced by orbs that focus on ideas, information, and interaction (three I’s).” (pg. 52)  This quote, to me, exudes an ethos of creativity, energy, and offense whereas the former C’s elicit the opposite emotions in me.
  • One of the most meaningful descriptions of a good leader was found in the context of describing resiliency.  De Vries writes, “In general, resilient people deal with emotionally difficult problems proactively, reframe experiences in a positive way, have a great capacity to fantasize a more optimistic picture of the future, give themselves time for self-reflection, and work hard at maintaining a network of supportive relationships.”  (pg 89).  Work for and with such a person would be a joy!
  • “getting the pocess of change into motion requires a strong inducement in the form of pain or distress – discomfort that outweighs the pleasure of ‘secondary gains’” (pg 140).  I have long postulated that change, personal or organizational, is not generally embraced until there is sufficient pain.
  • I found his remarks on pages 182-183 very interesting.  I feel like we in the United States are moving from the charismatic model to a managed democracy, albeit in the early stages.
  • I totally agree with the writer’s thesis that “aspects of charisma can be ‘learned’ (if there exists a sufficient foundation within the individual) (pg. 204).  In my limited mentoring experiences, some mentees have exercised the discipline to become knowledgeable about charismatic roles and then act in accordance with that knowledge and they have become rather successful.  Their early formative years have usually played a foundational role in their success.

Leadership development is a major focus of my ministry.  Most of the people I engage for this purpose are interested in how they may assist others to develop their leadership.  However, they are usually more attentive for how they can grow in their own leadership.  I appreciated that De Vries sees both nurture and nature at work in leadership development and particularly affirm his statement, “What matters is the selection process itself.”  (pg. 229).  It is my experience that far too many ministry leaders are in positions of leadership for the wrong reasons.  Many have experience God work in their lives in transformational ways, completely changing their life attitude, to say nothing about their relationship to God.  Having such a life changing experience leads many to embrace full time ministry, confusing their experience with a “calling” of sorts.  The selection process should help people to move in another direction if their only justification is their new life and passion.

I appreciated the author’s emphasis on past track record as being the “best indicator or leadership ability” (pg. 231).  Undergrads and graduate students studying for ministry will do much to test their leadership capacity by engaging significant ministry.  Many academic institutions do encourage and require ministry experience, but real leadership experience is often different and too often not tested.

The author identifies those ‘developmental tasks’ that are important and unpacks them a bit.  I particularly appreciated that one of the tasks is to have “positive mentoring from an effective leader” (pg 234).  Most would not argue with the importance of such mentoring but few really engage the dynamic as mentors or mentees!  Too often informal or occasional mentoring takes place instead of mentoring that intentionally assists the mentee to grow in specific areas.  Yes, even occasional mentoring is good, how much more benefit would result if intentional and focused!

“Ethnocentricity has no role anywhere in this world” (pg. 239).  Great comment and certainly true in the context in which it is made, that being the digital and global age we live in.  So much more so for the Kingdom leader!  I found so much value in the writer’s comments and perspectives and though he was offering insights for global leadership, many are truly Kingdom oriented.  Except for the one position, high and lifted up, Kingdom leadership will be rather flat!

This was a good read!  It prompts some questions.  Jesus offered a leadership style that was explicitly dissimilar to the world’s.  Note his comment in Mark 10:42-43, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (NASB).

  • How is leadership in the local church too much like that of this world?
  • How is leadership in the local church “not this way among you?”
  • How do church leaders claim to be servant leaders without actually serving?
  • How can the church better prepare possible candidates for full time ministry?

About the Author

David Toth

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