Wednesday, December 17, 2008

thoughts on leadership 1 (or, lost in a forest drawing a map)

For me to write anything about leadership is like a guy lost in a forest drawing a map. It might be interesting to read, but i certainly wouldn't recommend anyone trying to follow it. In fact i would say i have more thoughts on what doesn't work in leadership then on what does and way more questions then answers.

My favorite image for leadership is that of a gardener. As a gardener your job is to create good environments for things to grow on their own. What I like about this image is that it respects the innate ability of things to grow on their own and it carries with it an implicit embrace of a certain amount of chaos (there is no such thing as a perfect garden, or if there is one, no one would want to hang out there because it wouldn't feel like a garden). i think it is both an apt description of what a leader actually does (whether they know it or not) and a good image for a leader to strive for.

Here's my problem. though i like the image of a gardener, its not actually the image i find myself working out of. The image i find myself working out of is of a pizza baker trying to make a ball of doe a round flat pizza crust. i pull here, then stretch there, then need here, only to find the thing retracting back into the center.

The problem with this image is that is sets me (the pizza baker) directly in tension with the people I am trying to lead (the dough).

So the question i am living with right now is how do i change my own image that i work out of from the latter to the former? It isn't just a matter of changing my mental image. For it to be true i actually have to make decisions based on a desire to create better environments and not based on creating something that looks like a pizza (successful church or whatever).

Lost in a forest indeed.

1 comment:

  1. you don't think the dough wants to be a pizza? (This happens to be an experience I know about, kneading and shaping baked goods.) It can feel kind of oppositional, the pulling and snapping back...but in the long run, the kneading and shaping are what make it possible for the stuff to become what was 'born' to be. Yeast, without the gluten strings to give it structure, just makes useless bubbles.

    It does need more intervention than, say, seedlings.

    Matthew uses winemaking as a metaphor for spiritual development. (And then we get angry emails from Baptists and 12-steppers.) It's not like a plant, is his point. Both bread and wine take human intervention as well as the natural tendancies/qualities of the materials.


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