Thursday, December 06, 2018

What Makes a Great Leader in the 21stCentury?

The church needs not just good but great leaders for the 21st century.  A TEDTalk by leadership consultant Rosalinde Torres suggests three questions to determine whether you will be a great leader in today’s context.

First, where are you looking for change?  Who do you spend time with? Where do you travel?  What are you reading?  In all of your activities, are you open to seeing the discontinuous change that characterizes our time?  Torres calls this “the ability to see around corners.”

For church leaders, this means prayer walks in your neighborhood, reading outside your area of expertise, talking to business leaders about the changes they see in their industries, and connecting with community and not-for-profit executives.  Change is happening but are we placing ourselves where we can perceive it?

Second, what is the diversity measure of your network?  We all have networks but are they homogenous or heterogenous?  Are we connecting with people who are different from us culturally, economically, racially, and ethnically?  If we spend time only with people who are like us, we will continue to see and hear the same things. We will be locked in an echo chamber.

For church leaders, we must not only engage secular leaders but faith-oriented leaders who are different from us.  Networking with the Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Catholics is a good start, but we must go even further and connect with the Islamic imam and the Buddhist priest as well.

Third, are you courageous enough to abandon the past? What are you willing to give up?  Daring to be different is not easy.  To do so, we may have to find partners outside of our usual networks with whom to work. Torres urges leaders not just to take a step but a leap.  

For church leaders, this can be particularly painful and scary.  Do we have the courage to kill some “sacred cows”?  We do this not just to change, but to offer something better.

Being a great leader for the church in the 21stcentury means being willing to ask these hard questions.

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