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

This is No Groundhog Day!

Written by: on November 15, 2018

Manfred Kets de Vries’ The Leadership Mystique is a behavioral self-discovery guide for aspiring global leaders. As a distinguished professor and author of over 40 books and 350 academic papers Kets de Vries is a scholarly voice to hear from concerning leadership. I have been a student of leadership for over 30 years and look forward to adding the author’s principles and techniques to lead more effectively. This post will engage two of his five leadership topics, succession planning and global leadership, while looking for ways to advance my Spiritual Warfare dissertation research. I believe that effective leadership with succession planning and global leadership strategies will help me advance my ideas on how to both understand and withstand spiritual warfare in the 21st Century.

First, identifying and training replacement leaders is not something new leaders normally put on their first “to-do-list” after getting promoted, ordained, or hired into a new position.  However, I remember my first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) job I had with a large humanitarian aviation organization and on my first day of the job I found three notes on my desk left behind from the outgoing CEO. The first two notes were wishing me luck and where the toilet was located. The third note was a strong encouragement to begin training my replacement right away, as if he knew something I did not know! Succession planning for ministry leaders can be especially challenging if the senior management team, elders, or board of directors maintain a wait and see attitude. During a leadership change, if the succession process has not been planned for, the management team often becomes confused, disoriented, and dysfunctional and the organization or congregation suffers.[1] I can attest to many challenges of taking over when there has been no succession planning. In my example, it took almost a year to rebuild the team and begin operating efficiently and effectively after the organization ran without a leader for only three months.

Another example that strikes home for me is my home church leadership. My church is currently struggling with succession planning for their senior pastor position. The senior pastor is approaching the 30-year mark and the Elder’s have not planned for his replacement. In addition, three supporting pastors have been released in the past two years and they do not have any candidates on staff for the senior pastor position. I hope they will form a search committee in the future. Since I chair the Foreign Mission Committee, I try to find opportunities to pray with and encourage the elders and pastoral staff from time to time. I plan on using this book and other strategic planning resources for succession planning to help them “get ahead” of the senior pastor need and hopefully minimize the spiritual leadership gap and disruption to the congregation.

On a personal level, this self-help leadership guide is inspiring me and my wife to start succession planning for our package delivery marketplace ministry. The Lord has blessed our business and it has quadrupled in size in five years. We planned on it becoming a missional income source and agree with Kets de Vries that it is our stewardship responsibility to plan and prepare successors to carry on our legacy ministry. We think it will be one or both of our daughters but are trusting that the Lord will show us who and how to begin our replacement leader process.

Second, I am drawn to global leadership strategies as one of Kets de Vries primary themes. Being able to live, breath, work, and ministry around and inside multicultural environments is how God seemed to wire me. My cross-cultural experiences began in Scotland as a newborn. Since then I have traveled, lived, worked, missioned, and ministered in many countries around the world. So, leading in a global context works for me. The author termed the word “authentizotic” as the ideal employer or organization whose “vision and values” promote the opportunities for employee self-development and self-improvement in the areas of assertion, competency, and effectiveness.[2] It comes from two Greek words that combine being authentic and vital to life. Authetizotic leaders have the following characteristics: they are focused, they know how to build a team, they can coach others, they can listen to others, they can inspire others, and they put the interests of others before themselves.[3] Authentic leaders tend to “function according to their true self” and are more “centered, balanced, compassionate, forgiving, sensitive, peaceful, secure, and self-confident.”[4] After writing this superhuman list of leadership adjectives I flashed to Bill Murray’s famous line in the movie Ground Hog Day after hearing Andie MacDowell describe her perfect date qualities; Murray said this, “Me, me, me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV0h0j0eCSM

Being a good leader is a lot like being a good date. The proof is in the eye(s) of the beholder. While Kets de Vries and others advance many good leadership models I tend to follow the “It Depends” method and the “KIS Method” or Keep it Simple. I think some of my best leadership moments were achieved more by accident than strategic design. What I am trying to say is that sometimes just being there, being persistent, being watchful, and as a Christian being a servant to others helps move people in the right direction. I like big words too, but most followers would rather see your deeds that help them feed their family, achieve their goals, inspire their creativity, and help them feel part of the organizational family more than how much you can talk the talk. Walking the walk, as the author says, it the difference that makes the difference for effective global leadership strategies.

In summary, The Leadership Mystique is a good book for me and my dissertation research into Spiritual Warfare. It helps me start succession planning for the Armor of God challenge coin ministry. It helps me focus outward to extend my global ministry reach. [5] And finally, Kets de Vries is teaching me how to keep it simple by taking complex concepts and making them “palatable to others.”[6]

Stand firm,

M. Webb

[1] Manfred F. R. Kets De Vries. The Hedgehog Effect Executive Coaching and the Secrets of Building High Performance Teams. (San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass, 2011) 10.
[2] Bryan Love. “Manfred Kets De Vries: The Leadership Mystique – a Users’ Manual for the Human Enterprise. Prentice Hall, Great Britain. 2001.” SA Journal of Industrial Psychology 28, no. 3 (2002): 99.
[3] Kets De Vries, Manfred F. R. The Leader on the Couch: A Clinical Approach to Changing People and Organizations. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006) 368.
[4] Ibid., 371.
[5] Sarah Powell. “Manfred Kets De Vries. SPOTLIGHT: Cultural Approaches to Management.” Management Decision 42, no. 7/8 (2004): 929.
[6] Manfred Kets De Vries. “An Interview with Manfred Kets De Vries.” Strategic Direction 23, no. 3 (2007): 31.

About the Author


6 responses to “This is No Groundhog Day!”

  1. Kyle Chalko says:

    Great points mike. Your summary was very helpful to me and you gave great palatable action steps for me!

    I sometimes wonder if I should be concerned about my successor or if that can be a distraction. I do however very much pour a lot of my time into developing people.

    • M Webb says:

      Thanks for your review and comments. I always enjoy swapping ideas with you. As a Pastor, you might need to empower your elders, board of directors, or some trusted agents to plan the succession planning for you so you can stay focused on the more pastoral tasks at hand. Nevertheless, keep an eye on it and watch for future leaders. You may not be mentoring your replacement, but maybe someone else’s?

  2. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Mike,

    Succession planning! You and Mark are making me think.

    I have a Pastor who has been at his church for 39 years, we are working on his succession plan, and it isn’t going all that great.

    The middle age of my Lead Pastors is 48–which means in 15 years half of them will need a succession plan.

    Keep helping us with your writing! My favorite fun line of yours was, “Being a good leader is a lot like being a good date…”

    Keep those coming, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. M Webb says:

    Jay, the next time you travel through Idaho we should get together and table top the whole succession planning idea.
    Like I just told Kyle, you are a natural leader’s leader, a mentor, and you have a good eye for potential leadership. Reproducing leaders, even if it not yours, is healthy for the church and maybe God is using you to train up someone that God has incredible good works planned for.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  4. Chris Pritchett says:

    This is really important and helpful for me, Mike. It is helping me to realize the difficulty I faced leading the church I did after a very ugly pastoral departure of my predecessor. It made my work and the work we needed to do together very slow and laden with land mines, all because I spent much of my time and energy cleaning up the mess he made. I was blessed by being able to help the church succeed and thrive following my departure 5 years later, with an amazing successor that I was grateful to be able to set up. I think the PCUSA has their polity wrong on this issue, and you have it right. The PCUSA does not allow for succession planning (I did it under the radar) – “Just get out of here and don’t talk to anybody anymore,” is the command for any pastor who will be called to a new ministry or retire. It’s quite sad, but I’m hopeful there is a better way..

  5. Jean Ollis says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog – just like Mark you connected well to succession planning. It is such an important concept which is frequently forgotten/ignored/avoided. It’s great to hear of your experience with the organization (I can’t believe the CEO left post it notes on your desk!!??) and how you hope to apply these concepts to your FedEx business. I always appreciate how you connect these texts to spiritual warfare and your research. I’m intrigued by your home church’s experience with succession (30 years of ministry in the same congregation?). I attend a Methodist Church which moves pastors frequently for this very reason…you’ll have to keep me posted on how this rolls out. It certainly has potential to be a bumpy road.

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