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

Leadership? M.I.A. The Healer

Written by: on November 30, 2023

Terrorism, political upheaval, mass murders, world-wide pandemic, mass migration, racial strife, discord in global politics, depression era economy, mass poverty, the #Me too movement, financial oligarchies, and mass hunger. The years 2020-2022 have felt like our entire societal structures were crumbling beneath our very feet. We have entered an age of disruption. Yet the possibility of profound personal, societal, and global renewal has never been more real. We need leadership with a global perspective. We need a different type of leader and leadership. Otto Scharmer said in his book, Leading from the Emerging Future, “This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.”1 Maybe the type of global leader that has skill, heart, and wisdom to lead us into the 21st century and beyond is the leader who is known as “A Healer?”

This week, I enjoyed reading Peter G. Northouse’s book, Leadership: Theory & Practice. It provides a comprehensive exploration of leadership theories, styles, and practical applications. It has a balanced approach, covering both historical perspectives and contemporary leadership theories. My ninth edition was written in 2022, which means the world was already in an upheaval with so much hatred, emotional pain, job loss, anger with the government and the other political party, etc. Yet, nothing in Northouse’s book is mentioned about a new kind of leader who is needed in our world: The Healer. The healer is a style all by itself and yet can be incorporated in all of Northouse’s styles. Why? Because our societal structures are crumbling beneath our feet. Our world needs leaders who have dealt with their shadow side, because our “suffering hollows us out, tears at veils of spiritual persona, smashes religious idols, and ultimately leaves us bereft.”2 As this leader continues to face her shadow, issues, she becomes more vulnerable and authentic. This “generates engagement and fulfillment for their employees, delight and loyalty for their customers, positive contributions to their communities and to the environment.”3

Even though Northouse did not include the leader as a healer, his book, “provides an in-depth description and application of many different approaches to leadership.”4 His definition of leadership is excellent and lays a great foundation for the book, “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.”5 Also according to Northouse there are various theories of leadership that explain what makes a proper leader. A few are:

The trait approach to leadership posits that leaders possess a set of qualities that separates them from followers. According to this theory, leaders are born, not built.
Another theory is the skills approach. According to this view, leadership isn’t innate, it’s earned. The skills approach emphasizes that leaders learn and develop attributes that allow them to influence others.
The behavioral approach suggests leaders use two kinds of behavior to influence others: task behaviors and relationship behaviors.
The situational approach to leadership emphasizes that circumstances dictate a leader’s style. To be effective, leaders must adapt to the situation they encounter.
The other leadership theories emphasized how the leader influences the followers, but nothing was mentioned how the leader is a healer to her followers.

For the next few chapters Northouse discusses leadership styles such as:

Transformational leadership is about changing people for the better, not just meeting goals.
Authentic leadership derives from the transparency of the leader.
For authentic leadership, transparency is crucial. Followers have to trust the leader is genuine in their intentions.
Servant leadership prioritizes the best interests of the followers. Servant leadership flips the typical leadership model on its head. It’s about putting the interests of the followers above those of the leader. According to this view, the best way to lead is to help followers reach their potential.

To end his book Northouse argues what separates destructive leaders from productive leaders is ethics — the morals and values they practice and promote. “In regard to leadership, ethics is concerned with what leaders do and who leaders are.”6 Christian leaders have no problem believing ethics are important and necessary because they are! But…in this age of disruption, how ethical is it, when a leader has staff members, employees, co-workers who have hidden pain from wayward children, divorce, abuse, financial struggles, anger issues, marital problems, anxiety, depression, unhealed wounds, and the list goes on. The leader as healer cares about the pain of those he influences and intentionally has core values such as:

1. Partnering with a counseling agency to provide 2 or 3 free counseling sessions for those who need it.
2. Providing different types of mental health workshops.
3. Embodying empathy as she listens to others pain.
4. Encouraging employees to make a difference in the community through service.
5. Engage and collaborate with every employee to hear their concerns and challenges as a real person.
6. People over profit.
7. Encourage emotional growth through training.
8. Being skilled in deep listening
9. Embody hope, healing, and restoration as a company

No matter what leadership theory or style is presented, being a healer in the 21st century has to be at the top.

1. Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer. Leading from the Emerging Future, 3.
2. Connie Zweig. Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path, 113.
3. Raj Sisodia and Michael J. Gelb. The Healing Organization, 20.
4. Peter G. Northouse. Leadership: Theory and Practice, 2.
5. Ibid, 6.
6. Ibid, 423.

About the Author

Todd E Henley

Todd is an avid cyclist who loves playing frisbee golf, watching NASCAR, making videos, photography, playing Madden football, and watching sport. He is addicted to reading, eating fruits and vegetables, and drinking H2O. His passion is talking about trauma, epigenetics, chromosomes, and the brain. He has been blessed with a sensationally sweet wife and four fun creative children (one of which resides in heaven). In his free time he teaches at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and is the Founder/Executive Director of Restore Counseling Center.

9 responses to “Leadership? M.I.A. The Healer”

  1. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Todd,
    I appreciate your post and how you identified another kind of leader, the healer. You have introduced me to two new authors, Ottos Scharmer and Connie Zweig. Is Otto Scharmer specifically proposing a healing model for leadership? If so can you explain more? The healing approach to leadership is an intriguing concept. I found hints of it in servant leadership (p. 255). It also made me think of leaders as mediators and reconcilers. Might these be tasks of leaders or potential models?
    You mentioned ethics. While I was reading Chapter 15: Leadership Ethics I kept coming back to how specific professions have there own ethical standards. Many leaders fall under these, but it seems many don’t. Simon Walker’s books and this book by Peter Northouse are keepers for sure as them seem to complement each other quite well.

    • Hey Jenny, Otto believes the purpose of business is to enhance the well-being of society. His framework for transforming capitalism matters because it addresses a blind spot in our current discourse: how to create institutional innovations that could shift our economy from ego- to eco-system awareness. I have only read three pages of this book and I was highly impressed. No, I would not say he is proposing a healing model of leadership but there’s healing in his approach. I’ll let you know when I read it.

  2. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    The healer! Yes! One leader I heard talk about transforming healthcare titled his session “We are the Medicine”. That our true investment, is in ourselves, and through our own transformation, we are healers. Carl Jung utilizes the “Wounded Healer”. Here is what I found on that on Wikipedia Wounded healer is a term created by psychologist Carl Jung. The idea states that an analyst is compelled to treat patients because the analyst himself is “wounded.” The idea may have Greek mythology origins. Victor et al. (2022) found that 82% of applied psychology graduate students and faculty members in the United States and Canada experienced mental health conditions at some point in their lives.[1]

    As an example, of the “wounded healer phenomenon” between an analyst and their analyzed:

    The analyst is consciously aware of his own personal wounds. These wounds may be activated in certain situations especially if the analyzed wounds are similar to his own.[2]
    The analyzed wounds affect the wounds of the analyst. The analyst either consciously or unconsciously passes this awareness back to his analyzed, causing an unconscious relationship to take place between analyst and analyzed.[3]

    We have an opportunity to not just finish our life by healing our wounds but allowing them to transform us so that we can transform others! thank you for bringing this style of leadership into the context of Northouse! I think this category needs to be added to his next edition!

    • C’Mon Lady! The wounded healer! I like that because I am seriously contemplating changing my title to reflect what God has called me to do in the 21st Century. I love what you said about healing our wounds and allowing them to transform us so that we can transform others. That’s Making Disciples!
      I also like how we cause “unconscious relationships” Beautiful insight, Jana! You never cease to amaze me!

  3. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

    I love that you brought forth the Healer as a Leadership Type. It is also not surprising. You have a gift at seeing the beautiful core of a situation/person and speaking to it. I appreciate that about you. Your closing statement was so very powerful, you said: “No matter what leadership theory or style is presented, being a healer in the 21st century has to be at the top.” YES and AMEN!

    • Thank you for your kind and gracious words Jonita They were definitely a compliment coming from you and I appreciate them and you! Just trying to be a healer just like you! 😊

      • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

        Referring to me as a Healer is the greatest compliment that I have received. You are the second person to say that to me. The first is a person that I believe was an angel.

        Let me tell you a story that I have only shared with a handful a people.

        I was walking down the street in Ashland, Oregon and an unhoused gentlemen caught my eye. I only had a twenty on me, so I asked if I could give it to him so that he could get some food. He looked me in my eyes, never looking at the money that I was giving him and he said, “your face holds healing” he then reached in his pouch and handed me a pair of angel earrings and said, “My name is Stephen and I am your guardian angel” I took the earrings and said thank you and I said, ” Bless you, Stephen!” he looked me in my eyes and smiled. I walked down the street and picked up a sandwich and when I walked back past the spot, he was not there. He was not there the next five days either. I looked for him. I still have the earrings; they are so special to me. Here is the thing…He never took the money from me. It was days before I realized that I still had the twenty-dollar bill.

  4. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Todd!

    I had never come across this idea before. You are a genius and a man of God. Thank you for bringing this point to our attention.
    My question is, does the idea of healing leadership require a leader to first experience healing from past wounds, grudges, and trauma? If yes, what is the process, is it simple or fast, or vice versa? If it takes a long time and is complicated, it means that a leader who is chosen, while still having wounds, should solve his/her problems before continuing his leadership.

  5. Man, I love your posts.

    Your reflection on the need for “The Healer” as a new type of leader in today’s challenging times is insightful. It’s crucial to incorporate healing elements like empathy, mental health support, and emotional growth into leadership. This holistic approach can better address the hidden pains and challenges people face in an age of disruption.

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