Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Distributed Leadership

Most of the leadership theory we read centers on one person as THE leader.

There are other theories such as Ken Blanchard’s situational leadership approach that in my mind describes reality pretty well. Roles are critical to this type of model. When setting up such a situation it is probably necessary to have external authority as well to guide the potential chaos that could ensue while the right leadership mix is attained. It was Harry Truman said “the buck stops here.” Makes one wonder why the buck was being passed in the first place. It should have stopped sooner.

The self managed team model relies on using several leaders in tandem or sequentially in a group. There are four basic kinds of leadership in view- envisioning leadership which focuses on creativity and overall vision; spanning leadership, which is focused on acquiring and stewarding resources external to the group’s social leadership, which centers on interpersonal relationships within the group, and organizing leadership, which focuses on developing task structures and maintenance of the control systems that are related to the group.

In many churches you see this taken on in the form of various staff to meet the organizational needs. Hierarchies need not attain, necessarily. But there is one thing I can say about this – a “bossless” group needs MORE leadership not less- it’s just that it is distributed. More gifts are exercised in the process. Formal authority must be there or things tend to degrade into power struggles and politics. However this authority ned not be centralized in one person in the group. It derives from the ONE who is the head over all, though He be not present physically.

Unity is the keyword. If we all sink or swim together, if we have a corporate covenantal view of the blessed bride, distributed leadership can make a lot of sense and actually accomplish marvelous things. Developing heterogenous leadership styles within the same group increases the possibility of serious conflicts, but this requires that they be exercised at different times- to every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose… when you are hitting on all cylinders, a breakthrough can be expected.

No comments: