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. 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. 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. Authentic leaders tend to “function according to their true self” and are more “centered, balanced, compassionate, forgiving, sensitive, peaceful, secure, and self-confident.” 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.  And finally, Kets de Vries is teaching me how to keep it simple by taking complex concepts and making them “palatable to others.”