NEWS about the Green report and Dean Percy's reflection (News
and Comment, 12
December) raised an interesting response at Sarum College which,
with others, was invited to tender for developing leadership
training for bishops in 2011.
Having worked on leadership training in the Oxford diocese over
ten years, I invited two lay colleagues, whose leadership
development experience was in the commercial and the charitable
sector, to join me. We were appointed to collaborate with Waverley
There were six of us, all Christians: one priest, and the others
working mainly in the corporate sector, delivering leadership
development at the most senior corporate level.
It is worth being clear about what we were asked to tender for.
The commissioning document highlighted:
• the exercise of leadership in complex and ever-changing
environments, including emerging models of ministry, diminishing
budgets, and a world that increasingly sees faith as
• the need for bishops to be expert
relationship-builders/sustainers - to build and work in, with, and
through teams of lay and ordained colleagues;
• finding ways to develop emotional intelligence to sit
alongside highly tuned general and spiritual intelligence;
• equipping bishops for their extra-diocesan ministry as leaders
in the public square.
Compare these with the competency framework in the Green report,
and you will notice significant differences as well as
OUR programme started with the idea of vocation, and threaded
worship and Bible study throughout. A central idea was that each
bishop was uniquely called to be his own fullest expression of his
vocation in the context in which he found himself.
Our task as trainers, therefore, was to help bishops realise the
needs of their context, take hold of the call of God to them with
their particular gifts, and to shape some learning and development
goals that would enable them to be as close as possible to what God
wanted in that place.
I want to argue that this matches the best contemporary thinking
about senior-leadership development, besides being both
theologically and spiritually congruent with the ecclesiology of
the Church of England. Read Goffee and Jones, for instance, in
their Why Should Anyone be Led by You? (published by HBS).
Goffee and Jones focus on the idea of the unique shape that each
leader has, and the need for authenticity to emerge from that shape
or even misshapenness.
The Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) has also reported on
senior leadership. Green makes no reference to it, even though FAOC
was commissioned by the Synod. This report, which I also worked on
for a short time, comes up with the phrase "faithful
improvisation". The Green framework starts from a place called
"organisational goals". This is the corporate world par excellence,
and the industries that adopted this mindset, such as banking and
oil, have hardly served us well recently.
Once I, too, believed in the world of competencies. I now
realise that the view that change and development can be driven by
a top-down, "corporate culture" programme is a dated, failed
modernist view. Very few contemporary organisations believe this
A careful study of the proposed training programme shows bits
and pieces bundled together to fit the framework. Why, I wonder, do
we not believe that a healthy church organisation is shaped by
worship and prayer? Where does one fit holiness into such a grid?
What is more troubling still is that the report believes that this
is a "complete set" of characteristics.
There is much that is excellent in the report, and the release
of significant sums of money is to be welcomed. I am glad that what
we did on charity money is now owned by the Church Commissioners.
But what hurts is the phrase: "Evaluation found that these
[existing] providers failed to provide sufficient challenge for a
senior church cohort."
Our evaluation, carried out by external evaluators, never
mentions this, and scored 7s and 8s out of 10 throughout. Three
bishops on Lord Green's steering group were members of the cohorts
that gave that feedback; two of them worked closely with me
throughout one programme. They never said they were not being
There is little in the Green framework about an individual's
character, except that he or she "owns difficult conversations". I
certainly hope the new programme will enable them to do just
Canon Keith Lamdin is Principal of Sarum College,