In his book, The Leadership Mystique, Manfred Kets De Vries states, “effective business leadership is never limited to the acts of one “heroic” individual; rather, it operates in a context of employees and of the business, industry, and larger social environment. Leaders who recognize the nuances of that context and guide their followers accordingly provide their organization with an extra stimulus.” There is so much focus and discussion on leadership, yet many people often neglect to consider the internal and external influences that can impact a person’s ability to effectively lead. Many of us have been in difficult situations that challenge our influence and ability to move an organization in a positive direction. Internal and social or political dynamics drive how decisions are made, how money is spent, how people are promoted, and whose voice is heard or listened to. Kets De Vries provides interesting insights into what leadership characteristics contribute to high-performance of an organization.
Have you ever worked with a bad leader? A good leader? It can be frustrating when someone is put into a position of leadership, but lacks the skills or desire to actually lead. Kets De Vries, points out “executives aren’t always paragons of rationality” . This is what he calls the dark side of leadership. He asserts that there are three types of leaders: the rule takers, the rule makers and the rule breakers. It is the rule breakers who are able to deliver extraordinary results in the workplace. Rule breakers aren’t widely accepted in Christian organizations. Thinking outside the box often goes against the norms and traditions that have become institutionalized. Those who do things differently are often chastised for not being team players, for being disagreeable, or for failing to consider other’s opinions. For those leading, navigating the complexity of political and social environments can be tiresome. It requires high levels of emotional intelligence to navigate through the nuances and politics that are hidden beneath the depths in many institutions. Personal change and organizational change is often difficult. Yet change is necessary to move forward in today’s world.
Kets De Vries offers some interesting insights on ways that we can assess our emotional intelligence. For example, he asserts that our dreams can offer us insight into those things that we are attempting to master or into conflict resolution. There are times when I’ve been in difficult or stressful situations in the work environment, and I have trouble sleeping due to fact that my mind is racing and repeatedly mulling over the situation. My family claims that I talk in my sleep when I am trying to solve difficult problems. I must say that I’m not very good at paying attention to my ‘inner world’. Reading Kets De Vries book has reminded me that I must slow down and pay attention to my own emotional health, so that I can continue to be more and more effective in my own leadership.
Just because we are good at leading in the past, doesn’t mean we will be good at leading in every situation in the future. Organizations and people can get stuck, living on their past laurels. Sometimes leaders can prevent positive change from happening within an organization when they fail to adjust their practice. In today’s world, leaders must drive innovation and interaction. It is necessary to have a strategic and entrepreneurial mindset. People today are more likely to respond to leaders out of respect vs. their position. The relationships between people and organizations are often broken, so leaders must work diligently at building trust and rapport if they intend on retaining talented employees.
Kets De Vries outlines ten characteristics of leadership in high performing organizations, which translates into the following actions:
- Stay Focused.
- Pay attention to the customers.
- Take stewardship and loyalty to the organization seriously.
- Share information broadly – be transparent. Keep secrecy to a minimum.
- Be a coach or mentor – develop leadership skills in others.
- Be a catalyst of innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Create a positive climate for employees.
- Set the example of good customer service.
- Have diversity in thought and action – share knowledge and be decisive.
- Be a bridge builder – work cross functionally. Tear down silos.
- Monitor key financial indicators & metrics. 
If leaders of Christian institutions performed these actions consistently, would the church world be transformed?
 Manfred F R. Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise, 2nd ed. (Harlow, England: Prentice Hall/Financial Times, 2006).