*the title of a U2 song written for the 2013 film “Long Walk to Freedom,” based on Nelson Mandela’s book.
We can’t fall any further if
We can’t feel ordinary love
And we can’t reach any higher,
If we can’t deal with ordinary love
When we think of “front stage” leadership, Simon Walker’s description of “Commanding,” “Pacesetting,” and “Affiliative” strategies seem fairly obvious. Even the “Visionary” strategy seems like a fit from a “dynamic back-stage” perspective. However, Walker places the “Consensual” strategy as an “attentive front-stage” style in which the leader “works collaboratively toward group goals… (and) may abdicate responsibility.” Walker’s example for this strategy is Nelson Mandela.
Walker writes, “you might look at Consensual leadership and feel at once how weak and fragile it is….It feels more like a gentle, self-effacing and fundamentally collective approach….(The) essence of the PWC strategy is to build up the strength of the relationships between people.” When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he faced the challenge of seeking to unite his country by securing support of his own people and earning the trust of the white population. “In that effort, Mandela’s obvious integrity, combined with the wisdom and moral authority he had acquired over the years of suffering patiently endured, gave his voice power and credibility.”
What made Mandela successful, and what makes the Consensual strategy effective, is “strengthening the ‘spaces’ between people. In technical terms, this is what is known as ‘social capital.’…(The) notion that a community’s wealth lies not just in people’s pockets or their brains but in their relationships- their trust of and commitment to one another.”
In his book, “Bowling Alone,” Robert Putnam explores social capital both for how it can bond people together in tight, inwardly-focused ways or bridge people, connecting them more loosely and more broadly. He also outlines how social capital, while sounding very positive, can also be understood and used in negative ways as well. Social capital is a way of thinking about how different relational systems and spheres of influence intersect with each other.
Walker describes Mandela’s leadership as one with “a deliberate commitment to build the social capital of the … nation.” This is statesmanship with a purpose that is much bigger than the leader. For Mandela, the challenge was crystal clear. During apartheid, social capital drained quickly due to lack of trust and the power structure which gave privilege to a few at the expense of the many. It was not enough for people to merely get along. The political structure had to be redeveloped. Mandela’s predecessor, F.W. de Klerk, was key in making this happen as he took steps to end apartheid knowing it would cost his personal and political power. Mandela built on this as he sought to unite the country.
I can’t fight you anymore
It’s you I’m fighting for.
“The vision that must inform a PWC strategy and underwrite its values is one of a common humanity, that sees people as equally human, possessing equal worth and dignity. No other vision will prove strong enough to withstand our tendency to sectarianism.” Last fall, Jer Swigart blogged about his participation in a peacemaking effort during a time of racially-charged tension in central Oregon. He wrote, “we need to learn to walk like Jesus, a truly differentiated leader, in relationship and ever at the pace of trust.” Whether we are trying to unite a divided nation, heal a fractured church, or bring restoration in a broken family, the important work an undefended leader is to be strong enough stand in the tension as trust and social capital is being cultivated.
 These are broad-stroke generalizations from Walker’s diagram in “The Undefended Leader” page 192.
 Simon Walker, “The Undefended Leader,” (Carlisle, UK: Piquant, 2010,) 192.
 Ibid, 265.
 Ibid, 264.
 Ibid, 266.
 Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2020,) 19-22.
 Walker, 267.
 Ibid, 271.
 Jer Swigart, “Walk at the Pace of Trust,” dminlgp, October 6, 2020, https://blogs.georgefox.edu/dminlgp/walk-at-the-pace-of-trust/, accessed March 17, 2021.