In order to foster better personal relationships and more fruitful work, I have drafted the following personal leadership philosophy. Although this document is a product of years of experience and deep reflection, I consider it a work in progress. In some ways, you may know me better than I know myself. I invite your feedback and dialogue in pursuit of clarification, understanding, and modification.
What I Believe About Leadership: Biblical and Conceptual Foundations
• I believe the Bible's primary leadership metaphors represent highly instructive images that should characterize my leadership: Steward (emphasizing our accountability to God for the resources - including human and material — and responsibilities He has entrusted to us); Servant (emphasizing our disposition toward those over whom we have authority and our exercise of position power); and Shepherd (emphasizing our relational responsibility for the welfare of those under our care).
• I have concluded that leadership consists of four primary elements:
Doxological. I believe leadership is not about foisting my agenda on others. It is about catalyzing the process of discerning, recognizing, and embracing God's agenda. Relational. I believe leadership consists of an influential relationship between leaders and followers based on credibility, not coercion. "Managers have subordinates; leaders have followers.
Directional. I believe leadership should move people in the direction of growing in Christ-likeness, becoming more aligned with His purposes, and moving toward a coherent vision and common goals.
Situational. I believe leadership involves "fit" and/or adaptation, between the leader's style, the followers' characteristics, and situational factors.
Personal Leadership Values
• I believe leadership is about movement — toward God and with God.
• I believe perpetuation (of mission, message, values, etc.) is preferable to preservation; preservation often confuses form with function, means with ends; "institutions preserve culture; movements create culture." [McManus]
• I believe that, generally speaking, collective wisdom is more trustworthy than privately ascertained and confirmed personal understanding.
• I believe that resources are to be invested liberally and wisely; there is a relationship between sowing and reaping; there is a vast difference between an investment and an expense.
• I believe that mission and vision go together; vision captures the imagination and sustains the soul of a people; mission is about definition and duty; vision is about direction and destiny.
• I believe that resources follow vision, not "need;" people are moved to invest in a
compelling cause that is demonstrably effective, where their investment may be seen to make a long term difference and in which they have the opportunity to be involved.
• I believe that quality and quantity are not competing values; both can and should be pursued.
I believe that human resources are an institution's most precious resource (and more difficult to acquire and retain than financial resources); I believe that leaders have particular responsibility to ensure that ministry partners are cared for, developed, celebrated, and empowered.
Leadership Expectations (of myself and my associates)
• Embrace and embody the association's mission and core values.
• Be an authentic, discerningly transparent model and mentor of Christian vitality and relentless pursuit of Christian maturity.
• The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have the do unto you.
• Take problem-solving and program-enhancing initiative within the framework of your role, consistent with the organizational mission, values, & plans.
• Take initiative to develop fair and accurate means by which you and I can monitor your effectiveness/progress within your sphere of responsibility.
• Take responsibility (which is not the same as affixing blame) for failure of yourself and your subordinates.
• Don't conceal significant dissenting opinion from me when forwarding a recommendation from your unit.
• Don't hide impending failure or potential problems; I want to work with you to correct and solve difficulties.
• Constantly invest time and resources to learn and grow in your professional knowledge and practice.
• In general, praise publicly & in writing, criticize/confront privately face-to-face.
• Dishonesty in any form; withholding or "shading" facts in such a way as to leave a false impression.
• Failing to share credit or blame.
• Use of position power as a primary tool for getting your way.
• Failing to impute good motives to colleagues (superiors, peers, subordinates).
• Tedious explanations or processes (remember, I'm a global, "forest vs. trees" thinker).
• Thinking in a "box" — zero-sum game, win-lose, yes-no alternatives.
• Failing to distinguish between the important and the urgent by the means of communication and/or the words you use.
• Flouting (especially passive-aggressively) established policies, especially by those in positions of power and authority (i.e., attitudes and actions that communicate, I'm above the rules?).
• Treating policies as though there can never be a reason to make an exception or reverse the policy. The Sabbath [policy] was made for man, not man for the Sabbath [policy].
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(Ralph Enlow is the president of the Association of Higher Biblical Education)