Church Times Bookshop £9 (Use code CT856
LEADERSHIP, Keith Lamdin
writes, is about change and about power. Power, he writes, is
derived from personal qualities (charisma, knowledge, skill) and
institutional structures (what he terms "projected power"). Lamdin
is a skilled leader of leaders who draws on well-honed personal
qualities. Power, he writes, can be used or abused: Lamdin knows
how to enable others to use power wisely.
Finding Your Leadership
Style is a personal and reflective book. In it, Lamdin sets
out what he calls the landscape of leadership styles, and invites
his readers to gaze on that landscape in reflective mood. The
defined landscape comprises six paradigms, styled as monarch,
warrior, servant, elder, contemplative, and prophet. Lamdin allows
each landscape (at least partly) to speak for itself. His craft
resides in the skill with which he presents the landscape,
employing engaging metaphors, informed reading, and clear analysis
within connected and connecting personal narrative.
Lamdin describes his
technique as more like a medicine man's bag (containing a wide
range of potentially useful components) than anything else. Here
are two memorable examples from the medicine man's masterclass.
Here are four characteristics of clergy identified as leading
growing churches: following an unpopular (and unsuccessful) leader;
displaying skills of relating well; being reliable and trustworthy;
and leading worship with a sense of presence.
Here are four models of
effecting change: the engineer who takes something to pieces and
puts it back together in better shape; the diplomat who builds
alliances behind the scenes; the gardener who works with the
seasons and allows change to grow naturally; and the surfer who
catches the waves of change as they sweep in from the deep.
Of course, as a conversation
partner in the medicine man's masterclass, I wanted occasionally to
ask questions, add a footnote citing contradictory evidence, or,
more controversially, assert that my experience did not coincide
with his. As a psychologist, I am not convinced that we can ignore
the substantial literature linking personality with leadership
styles. As an empirical theologian, I am not convinced that we can
ignore the emerging literature linking theological ideas with
professional practice among the clergy.
Lamdin recognises that two
models (monarch and warrior) are the ones most popular within the
contemporary Church, and he sees both as carrying within them seeds
of dysfunction. For Lamdin, a problem with the monarchical model is
rooted in the psychological profile of those who are attracted to
it. "The people we select to be our clergy and bishops often turn
out to be exactly the kind of people who are keen to take our
projections and begin to believe in them." Similarly, a problem
with the warrior model is rooted in psychological theory that
discusses the regressive attraction of denying complexity in favour
of unambiguous demarcation between good and bad, right and wrong,
light and dark.
Of the other four models,
Lamdin has shown strong commitment to the servant model through the
Developing Servant Leaders programme in the diocese of Oxford.
Here, his chapter on the servant gives full reference to the roots
in Isaiah and to the Gospel narrative of Jesus, provides two lists
of the characteristics of servant leadership, and discusses three
main criticisms of the model. There is plenty of food for thought
in this rich landscape.
The other three chapters, on
the elder, the contemplative, and the prophet, are less well
developed, especially the chapter concerning the contemplative.
The final chapter closes
with wise advice on how to cope with the strain of leadership.
Combining self-awareness with a critical friend makes a good start,
but the friend really must be critical enough to expose and test
those delusions to which the clergy so easily succumb.
The Revd Dr Leslie J. Francis is Professor of Religions and
Education, and Director of the Warwick Religions and Education
Research Unit, within the University of Warwick; and Canon
Theologian and Canon Treasurer of Bangor Cathedral.