Monday, November 09, 2009

Leadership Jottings

Have you ever heard someone say “Nope, it’s not going to happen on my watch?” I think every leader I’ve ever served with has found that non-negotiable place where they’ve had to use whatever leadership capital was available and put it on the line. They do it because their sense of ownership of a mission, an ideal, or an organization is high and the cost of failure is unacceptable. Good leaders don’t cash in their chips all that often but when the appropriate push comes to shove they’re not afraid to do what’s necessary.

I’ve found myself in places where I’ve caved in when I should have said ‘not on my watch’. There’s a fine line, at times, between being a determined leader or a reluctant doormat. I like being a determined leader. But I have a doormat default mechanism that kicks in at the most inopportune times.

Leadership is hard these days. We want someone to lead us but we’ve lost the art of being followers. Instead of following we critique. And as a result movements stall, initiatives never get off the ground, and morale dips. Leadership has never been for the faint of heart. It’s even more so these days.

I’m a boomer and not sure if I should apologize for that or not. So I won’t. The truth is that I’m in late middle age (thinking I will live to be about 118). There’s a tendency to want to fade into the sunset, thinking my time has passed. The problem is that I’m not ready to become an old curmudgeon, blaming someone and anyone for anything that goes wrong.

Folks my age have to believe that there’s a real need for us to links arms with a new generation of leaders. I’m realizing, however, that a new generation thinks differently, has different expectations, and has been educated and acculturated quite differently than what I’m used to. With that in mind I still believe that I have leadership capital needing to be invested. And if I can resist my urges towards dogmatism, entrenchment and laziness I can still be a factor within my circles of influence and allow others, often much younger, to impact my life.

What’s dawning on me is that I don’t have deep insights about how to solve problems but I do have some strong convictions about how we talk about solving problems. The ‘how’ is important.

In the midst of this continuing leadership involvement I bring to the table my ‘faith’ which can be scoffed at and labeled as both uninteresting and irrelevant. Being a ‘Christ-follower’ is not for those prone to cowardice these days especially for anyone trying to lead outside the walls of the church. There’s a whole world out there that is quite dismissive of what I value deeply. If I can just keep that world from dismissing me as uninteresting and irrelevant God might be able to use my place at the table for something that has kingdom impact. Without sounding trite my job is to show up authentically in leadership circles and allow God to do his thing in and through and despite of me.

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