Sunday, March 05, 2006

Countercultural Leadership

When Laurie Beth Jones established an advertising agency she found it disturbing that while women represented the fastest growing segment of business owners in the USA, almost all of the management and leadership books had been written by men. To think through her style she reflected on the leadership of Jesus and the way he related to his team.

She thought, what does it mean for leadership to put a child in the midst and say, “This little one is the epitome of greatness?” What type of leadership might emerge in my business if the paramount symbols are a mustard seed, or leaving 99 sheep to search after the one lost sheep? Or if the governing image is taking up the towel and washing the feet of my staff?

She thought, what does staff welfare mean for me, if I model myself on this one who began by forming a team, whose greatest investment was not only in their training, but in preparing them to take over his business?

Laurie Beth Jones wrote her insights in the book entitled Jesus CEO. Listen to her chapter headings and the way they capture the counter cultural style of Jesus’ leadership:

He had a clear vision of himself.
He stuck to his mission.
He did the difficult things.
He said “Thank You.”
He was constantly in a state of celebration.
He did not waste his time judging others.
He was willing to look foolish.
He had a passionate commitment to the cause.
He was keenly aware of his resources.
He did not despise the little things.
He was bold.
He was visible.
He took the long view.
He took one step at a time.
He served only the best wine.
He changed the unit of measurement.
He gave them a vision of something larger than themselves.
He said, “Yes”.
He was open to people and their ideas.
He empowered women.
He clearly defined their work-related benefits.
He treated them as equals.
He held them accountable.
He spent lots of time with them.
He set an example for them.
He acknowledged them in public and in private.
He kept urging them on.
He defended them.
He gave them authority.
He played with them.
He wanted to take everyone to the top.
He loved them to the end.
He knew that nobody wins until we all do.

What might it mean for us to exercise leadership that honours the least, that values the newest, that elevates the least experienced in our team?

Geoff Pound

Image: Laurie Beth Jones