bits from bob....


by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, writes a personal blog which focuses on intentional leadership [http://michaelhyatt.com]. His purpose is to encourage thoughtful, purposeful leadership. He recently compared what he calls Leadership 1.0 with a new style of leadership which he labels Leadership 2.0 [http://michaelhyatt.com/leadership-20.html].

Our interaction with the Web and the expectations it creates have shaped what we expect from our leaders. Therefore, if leaders are going to be effective with the current generation of Internet-savvy web-users, they must shift their leadership style. I call this Leadership 2.0.
In this article I share some of his thoughts, then build on and expand the concepts with specific applications to church leadership.

Not quite eight years ago in December 2003, Eric Knorr, executive editor of InfoWorld, coined the phrase "Web 2.0" to describe the movement to a different kind of Internet web experience that focused more on the user than the publisher. Less than a decade later, this new web experience (and the social networking that is one result of the change in the way the web works) is known to almost all web users. This second generation of web development and design focuses on communication, information sharing, and collaboration. Today web users are also the providers of information in web-based communities, video-sharing, and blogs.

This cultural shift has significant implications for leadership and demands a new understanding of leadership styles and applications. This is especially true in the church. Christian leaders must learn how to adapt to the cultural changes that are driving our society toward new versions of community, participation, involvement and interaction. Adapting to such changes will mean adopting new models. Previous models of leadership, although informed by Scripture, were to an extent culturally driven. In evaluating new leadership styles, we must continue to be informed by Scripture while keeping an eye on cultural shifts. Church leaders today are leading a new kind of follower. Today's follower wants direct involvement but also wants to control the level, timing, and nature of that involvement. Enhanced communication is shaping what we expect from our leaders, especially in the area of connectivity, interaction and information sharing. This societal change is altering our understanding of leadership, demanding a new style of leadership capable of meeting new challenges. If leaders are going to be effective, they must shift their leadership style. Consider some aspects of this new challenge.

The previously accepted leadership style was relatively static; the new leadership style must be dynamic. The new leadership style can handle rapid change; in fact, it embraces and facilitates thoughtful, meaningful change. Formerly, leaders resisted change and were largely focused on preserving the status quo. New-style leaders are on the cutting edge of experimentation. If something does not work, they change course quickly; they are more concerned about driving the right outcomes than maintaining business-as-usual. This focus on outcomes is essential to becoming a missional organization rather than a maintenance organization.

The previously accepted leadership style was maintenance oriented; the new style leads the church missionally. The cultural context in which the current leadership style developed was largely Christian in some broad meaning of the word. Today's cultural context is much less Christian, at times even anti-Christian. The mission field is everywhere around us, and the effective Christian leader cannot limit leadership to the building or assemblies. Church members face grave difficulties and challenges just outside the church door. The church that operates in maintenance mode will slowly but surely diminish, decline, decay and die. Maintenance leadership will not maintain much, and will certainly not grow anything. Leaders must lead the church to new dreams and methods based on living in a largely non-Christian world. Such leaders will serve as pathfinders as the church exists and lives missionally in its context. Maintenance leadership generally focuses on right thinking-the new leadership does not cast off right thinking, but demonstrates right living as the intentional outcome of right thinking.

The previous leadership style was closed; the new style is open. The new leadership is transparent. Old-style leaders were usually opaque. They met in closed rooms and no one knew what they talked about behind closed doors. Minutes were not published; leadership was secretive; open communication was not a primary characteristic of the model. Leaders from the old school do not tell you anything they do not have to tell you. They keep themselves shrouded in mystery. New-style leaders are open and transparent. They let you see them for who they are-warts and all. They risk self-disclosure, preferring to acknowledge the truth of who they are rather than pretend to be something they are not. If the former leadership style was protected and closed, the new leadership is vulnerable. If the former style was aloof and separated, the new style is "among the flock" and directly involved in people's lives.

The previous leadership style was limiting; the new leadership style is limitless. This point is clearly illustrated by the way the web is changing. Content control is now in the hands of the user as much or more than in the hands of the web host. Similarly, the new leadership wants to know what others think. The new leadership recognizes the church as dynamic, capable, and involved. As a result, the new leadership celebrates dialogue. Old-style leaders made decisions and delivered the results in a monologue. They did all the talking. There was no model for formal listening; there was little if any dialogue. The fact that they were leaders was proof enough that they were in charge (and more capable than anyone else?). They were not to be challenged. New-style leaders listen more than they talk. They ask questions. They lead powerful conversations.

The previous leadership style was controlling; the new leadership leads by collaboration. Old-style leaders were competitive and controlling. They held their cards close to their vest. They refused to help anyone they perceived as the competition (ministers?), even if they were theoretically on the same team. New-style leaders are committed to teamwork. They are inclusive in the way they lead; drawing others in and making all feel rewarded that something great is being accomplished-together. The new leaders enroll as many others as possible in the roles of colleagues and partners. The new leaders understand and encourage the "every member is a minister" model of church.

The previous leadership style hoarded resources and the leaders were the sole dispensers; the new leadership style disburses resources widely for the use of the entire organization. The new leadership practices and leads through sharing. Every person can direct resources to needs. Resources are freely spent on ministry, service, mission, and needs-meeting. New leaders demand accountability but do not demand knowledge of every detail. Old-style leaders hoarded resources-including their contacts, their insights, their time, energy and money. They played a zero-sum game. They did not believe they could be generous without depleting their own pile of stuff. New-style leaders are just the opposite. They have an abundance-mentality. They freely share their resources, believing that "there is plenty more where that came from." They know "it is more blessed to give than to receive."

The new leadership welcomes engagement; old-style leaders were aloof and detached. They did not expect to get their hands dirty by actually being involved in the work-teaching, visiting, evangelizing, talking to and encouraging members, reaching out to meet needs both in the church and outside the church. Often they stood above the fray, dispassionately observing the masses. The old-style leaders discussed what "they" (the members) needed to do and why "they" were not doing anything. New-style leaders don't think in terms of hierarchy, as if something exists beneath them. They jump in with both feet, passionately engaging anyone and everyone. They see themselves as servants, leading from the bottom rather than from the top.

The old leaders were directors; the new leaders are shepherds. Directors are responsible for making sure that "stuff" operates. Directors make certain that nothing goes wrong in operations. In the church, directors organize and run finances, worship assemblies, education programs, and every other kind of program-building and grounds, vehicles…. The previous leadership style saw many of these tasks as the work of the elders, so that the elders became managers rather than spiritual shepherds and mentors. The new leaders are people oriented, not task oriented. The new leaders recognize that people are built up when they are involved according to their gifts. This understanding encourages leaders to become equippers, facilitators, and mentors, accepting their role as shepherds.

The new leadership builds community and togetherness; old-style leaders functioned alone or in a small subset as individuals. Formerly, leaders pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. They did not need anyone else. They could do it all themselves. New-style leaders enjoy working with others and building a sustainable community that will go on long after they are gone. They get great satisfaction from working together rather than working alone.

You can undoubtedly think of other contrasts. This new kind of leadership is essential for effectiveness in today's cultural context. The new style of leadership is not anti-biblical; in fact it may be more biblical than the older model of leadership. The new leadership enables leaders to connect with their followers in ways that were not possible previously. The irony is that this may not be so new after all. Jesus himself was this very kind of leader.

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Last updated July 24, 2011