Simon Walker is a Christian author and teaches Leadership at Oxford University and trains social leaders in corporate, educational and Not for profit organizations in the UK. He draws his thoughts of leadership from the life and death of Jesus, leadership which places exercise of vulnerability and self-emptying at its summit rather than strength and power. Simon defines a leader as one who takes responsibility for other people.
Leadership is concerned with the task of helping people to move towards fully mature, responsible personhood. The goal is for both leader and followers to be changed. ‘Leadership is an activity that leads other people into full humanity: which enables them to take hold of, and take responsibility for, the life that they, as a unique, particular person within the created human race, has given to live.’
Walker tells us that leadership involves influence and power over others but each person is trapped by a psychological imperative from within us to use whatever control for our own interest. He attributes this imperative to four ego patterns that are formed during our childhood and determine our drives and fears including, shaping, defining, adapting, and defending. The ego patterns determine the needs we try to meet as leaders. He describes ‘defendedness’ as the natural instinct to meet our own needs rather than the needs of others. The leader builds a ‘frontstage’ and a ‘backstage’ as one of the strategies to reveal or conceal aspects of themselves depending on how threating the leader perceives the audience to be. While he says that the best human audience of secure relations, loving marriages, and deep friendships, can help fulfil the leaders need for unconditional and dependable approval, there’s the ultimate need for a spiritual source of approval, in order to be available to serve others with freedom. Walker seems to acknowledge rightfully, the limitations of the human being without a spiritual source of approval which, can only be from having a good relationship with God. Walker draws his thoughts from the life and death of Jesus Christ, who lived and died for the sake of saving mankind. He makes his life purpose statement in Mark 10:45; “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus was available and lived to freely serve others and ultimately gave his life for others as the ultimate undefended leader. He is the leader that should inspire every leader that desires to overcome ‘defendedness’
At the core of the undefended leader is character which is the product of a process of formation, walker clearly shows that leaders are not appointed but are a product a process of overcoming the inner self to be selfless and ready to take responsibility for others. The formation process is a combat where character is put to the test, wrestling against the ego and all negative emotions like anger, thirst for power, and hatred. The undefended leader has fought and won the inner battle with self and have rightfully gained their moral courage and conviction, personal freedom and security, and willingness to embrace personal loss. There are no more gains and losses at the political level that they have not experienced at the personal level, they are vulnerable and self-emptying. The undefended leader has no need to dominate, conquer, consume, acquire, or oppress because they themselves free from within, they are secure.
When the leader is free and secure, they no longer look after their own interest but the interest of others. They become servant leaders that look for the good and empowerment of the followers. The leader is no longer dependent on their skills and resourcefulness for security and freedom but rather their attachment to another one that is big enough not to be overwhelmed by failure or their weaknesses. They celebrate success but they are not overwhelmed by failure or mistakes because their source of approval is not overwhelmed by failure, they have the freedom to give, they lead with the innocence of a child, they have moral authority, and they set undefended goals of helping people move towards fully mature, responsible personhood. The leader eventually becomes an enabler of others, its no longer about themselves but about others.
As a Christian leader, this book is very enlightening and was very captivating. I did not mange to read it all but it’s a book that I will want to read again and to retain in my library of reference books. I could not help thinking about my fellow leaders in our ministry organization whom I will encourage to read and to discuss as a team. I was able to see myself in my ‘defendedness and how I operate in my ‘frontstage’ and my ‘backstage’ which, is call for me to re-examine myself and work on my leadership. Working on my ‘defendedness’ is about cultivating a closer relationship with Jesus in my spiritual formation as I become more like Jesus in the formation of my Christian character. It became clear that the spiritual source of approval is God, the more I allow God to be my source of approval, the more freedom and security I gain to serve others. I am so thankful for this doctoral program because it is not just an academic program but part of the formation process of the leader that I should be. Setting the undefended goal for me is to grow into the undefended leader who will enable others to be better and to seek their welfare. As I research on my doctoral project, ‘the case for holistic ministry’ I have a better perspective of the kind of leaders that can be effective in doing holistic ministry in vulnerable communities to bring positive change for both the leaders and the followers.
 Simon Walker. Leading out of Who you Are: Discovering The Secret of The Undefended Leadership. (London, England. Piquant Publishing, 2007). Pg 154.
 Simon Walker. Leading out of Who you Are: Discovering the Secret of The Undefended Leadership. (London, England. Piquant Publishing, 2007). Loc. 2630 kindle.