Leadership is Unbiblical!
This is the shocking discovery I made last week.
I was asked to prepare a short reflection for a bunch of senior Baptist leaders, meeting in our Graeme Irvine Centre.
My topic was "leadership."
As with most things, the best wisdom is in the Bible. But instead of going to the usual places I find inspiration about leadership (Moses, Nehemiah, Jesus etc...) I decided to do a search on the word "leader" in the New Testament.
What do you know?! In the King James and New International Versions of the Bible, the word "leader" does not even appear in the New Testament.
The reason, if you think about it for even a minute, is pretty obvious.
Jesus contrasted two kinds of leadership and he used different words to describe them.
The first kind of leadership is "ruling."
The Bible often refers to people as "rulers." Perhaps the best known is the "rich young ruler." He was qualified in all manner of things that, at least in the world's terms, identified him as a leader.
But not in Jesus's thinking.
So what is the other kind of leadership? What is the word Jesus uses?
It is shepherding.
Nothing, in my view, is having an impact on our lives as great as the digital revolution.
And its impact will grow.
One shift, already glimpsed in the growth of the Internet, is that power moves from the information provider to the information seeker.
Right now, someone who owns the TV show and the transmitter decides what will be sent to our TV sets and when.
Pay-TV does not change this. It simply increases the options.
But already technology is available to allow the ordinary user to decide what program to watch whenever you want to watch it.
There are a million movies out there. After you've had a nice dinner, stacked the dish washer and put the kids to bed, simply dial up your video store and click on the one you want to watch tonight.
No need to even take the tape back. The store may not be in your country anyway!
An accompanying trend, highlighted in this week's issue of The Economist is the death of distance in telephone communications.
The cost of a telephone call now has little to do with how far the call has to travel. It costs the telephone company just as much to connect Burwood to Boronia, as to connect Burwood to Bulawayo.
Soon, the whole world will be a digital library accessed at the click of a mouse. Or maybe with whatever replaces the mouse...
Such a revolution changes lots of things. Accounting for example.
Right now, when I go through the Customs gate in India, they ask me what the value of my laptop computer is.
If I say "two million dollars" the clerk says, "No. I think it is about two thousand dollars."
"OK," I say, "as you like."
The machine itself might be worth a couple of thou, but what is stored on the hard disk? Or what I can access on the Internet when I get to my hotel room?
Indian customs put a value on the atoms. I put a value on the bits.
How will our accounting principles and methods need to change to value knowledge?
Increasing access to information also changes the way we work and the ways we manage work.
In the past, a favourite method of control was the control of information. "Give them just enough information to do their jobs."
Won't work today. Definitely won't work tomorrow.
When the sheep know where the best grass is, how does the role of the shepherd change?
Such changes are making traditional methods of strategic planning, and operational control obsolete.
One writer describes the changes in this way:
"People at every level will be encouraged to be more self-managing, because they have a sense of purpose and the requisite and appropriate authority to act."
Yet, "these extraordinary changes will require new and far more sophisticated skills, competencies, attitudes, and knowledge" from both organisations and the people in them.
If we are to do whole jobs, we shall need to be whole people.
The implications for training, personal development and counselling are very interesting.
I find it an exciting and confusing time to be in an organisation.
I had lunch this week with two of Australia's cutting-edge organisational thinkers. One of them said, "In fifty years, we shall look back at the 1990s as a time of great innocence. We really know so little about what makes organisations work."
How exciting to be on the edge of brand new discoveries!