“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

More About Leaders...

My friend and colleague read my blog and sent me another email elaborating on the Harvard Business Review on Leadership:

"Here’s a bit more that struck me from the essay, written by Abraham Zaleznik, Professor of Leadership emeritus at Harvard, called “Managers and Leaders: Are they Different?” Published in the “Harvard Business Review on Leadership” Harvard Business School Press, 1998

“Managers tend to adopt impersonal, if not passive, attitudes towards goals. Managerial goals arise out of necessities rather than desires and, therefore, are deeply embedded in their organization’s history and culture.”

“Leaders adopt a personal and active attitude toward goals. The influence a leader exerts in altering moods, evoking images and expectations, and in establishing specific desires and objectives determines the direction a business takes. The net result of this influence changes the way people think about what is desirable, possible and necessary.”

“Managers relate to people according to the role they place in a sequence of events or in a decision making process, while leaders, who are concerned with ideas, relate in more intuitive and empathetic ways. The distinction is simply between a manager’s attention to how things get done and a leader’s to what the events and decisions mean to participants.”

“One often hears leaders referred to with adjectives rich in emotional content. Leaders attract strong feelings of identity and difference.”

Leading On Eggshells


A friend of mine sent me an email that included this:

"I thought about you yesterday as I was reading a collection of essays on leadership published by Harvard Business School. One writer emphasizes the differences between a manager and a leader. A manager, he said, copes with complexity through the accomplishment of daily, necessary tasks – in short, maintaining things as they are. A leader, on the other hand, is concerned with change – articulating its vision and ensuring its accomplishment, not by imposing it from above but by developing it from among the existing staff, getting people excited about the future. Organizations need both managers and leaders; it seems to me that what you are doing in small town big church is providing leadership – exactly what they need."

Reassuring words from my gifted and knowledgeable friend as I struggle to claim my voice in this new place.

In that same Alban Institute conference (previous post) the facilitator Susan Beaumont told us that the Senior Pastor, the Rector, the primary leader of a parish is the ONLY person who can be responsible for these 7 things:

1. Mission/Vision/Outcomes: who we are, who we serve, and how we do this. (My words, not hers)

2. Structure and Hierarchy: How the structure we function in enables us to live into our Mission and ministry. What do we believe about power and authority and leadership relationships? What does our structure communicate about what we believe?

3. Leadership Style: What does the leader believe about motivation, ability, skill, and worth of the people who serve on the leadership team? How are these reflected back in the leadership style?

4. Role Management: How do we manage our roles and the expectations that others have of our roles? How do we balance spiritual and organizational leadership?

5. Performance Management: What are the essential functions, core competencies and targeted outcomes expected from each member on the team? How will team members be encouraged and held accountable for their portion of the work?

6. Strategic Decision Making: How will we make decisions together? What will we choose to pay attention to? How will we recognize and seize strategic opportunity? What value do we place on planning? Does our decision making process leave room for discernment of the Spirit?

7. Team Culture: What kind of organizational culture will we embrace? What values do we espouse? What behavioral norms will we covenant together?

The course was designed to help those attending examine and strengthen the messages we create in these seven dimensions of team life. We worked on skill building, individual reflection, and small group support.

In relationship to the materials presented in that course, and incorporating the email from my friend, I am left pondering this. I am clearly the leader in my parish leadership team. I think the vestry and staff are functioning as managers. But in that process we are not working as a team.

I think the staff and vestry view me, rightly so, as younger than they. But as a result they also think (unconsciously) that they are supposed to "correct" me when I veer off the well worn path of having always done it this way. The do not (yet) trust me. I do not (yet) have the authority that comes with my position. And more importantly I don't trust them. I don't know who I can trust.

And, so I am leading with every thing I know and understand, all the while walking on egg shells hoping that they don't crumble beneath me.

The one thing I do trust is that after this team has worked with me for a year, and gone through an entire liturgical year, they will trust me more. And that is what enables me to be a non-anxious presence in very anxious times.