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  • Jun11Mon

    Leadership Shift

    Our future depends on the partnership of existing and emerging leaders. June 11, 2012 by Colonel Floyd Tidd
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought

    Bob Dylan may have penned the song The Times They Are a-Changin' almost 50 years ago, but the words still ring true today. Change is all around us and happening at an accelerated rate. With these rapid shifts in culture, many people question whether the Army can change quickly enough to keep up or even risk not changing.

    While the Christian Church—including The Salvation Army—has been forced to navigate the often confusing and turbulent waters caused by the shift from a modern to a post-modern world, it's helpful to remember that today's leaders are not the first to face the challenge of a changing culture. In the Early Church, the Apostle Peter was confronted with a similar situation (see Acts 10-11). In spite of his personal convictions about how the Church should be organized and operated, Peter's views were challenged as the Church moved from an almost exclusively Jewish context into a Gentile one. Although difficult, Peter understood that God was calling the Church to minister in a radically new way as it expanded into new cultures. These changes would begin with Peter—the leader—and continue with other emerging leaders as the Church adapted to a changing context while remaining committed to the
    unchanging gospel.

    Leadership looks different in our post-modern culture. In The Leadership Jump, Jimmy Long suggests that, “If the modern leader is represented by hierarchy and directing, the emerging leader is represented by a culture of networking, permission giving and empowerment.” Long proposes that the key issue facing church leaders in these years of transition is not so much a choice between two leadership approaches but rather how best to form partnerships between leadership styles. A healthy partnership between existing and emerging leaders will effectively guide the Church through these changes, gracefully engaging the emerging culture without compromising the gospel.

    Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, notes: “The best and most innovative work comes only from true commitments freely made between people in a spirit of partnership ….” The gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of The Salvation Army deserve the best and most innovative work. Partnerships are not always easy to achieve or manage, but they are critical to our future as a Movement.

    In true partnerships, existing and emerging leaders need to listen to each other. Existing leaders will benefit from the insights and interpretation of the current culture from emerging leaders, and emerging leaders need the experience of existing leaders and their understanding of how God has brought his Church to this point in time. Existing leaders can also provide power, resources, wisdom and encouragement through the difficult times ahead.

    However, partnerships are only as strong as the level of trust between the parties. Trust is not easily earned in the world or within the Church and requires time, effort and a willingness to be open and honest. Existing leaders must be accountable to emerging leaders and not just seek accountability from them. In turn, emerging leaders must honour the interest and trust shown in them by existing leaders. Trust shares the resources, the power ... and the mistakes.

    As I reflect on my own leadership journey, I appreciate what the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, refers to as the privilege of being partners in the gospel (see Philippians 1:3-11). At various points in my life, existing leaders entered into partnerships with me, even when I didn't recognize it. In so doing, they strengthened and developed my potential for leadership. A junior soldier sergeant, a cub pack leader, corps officers, divisional youth leaders and other senior officers and local leaders mentored me in various ways. They listened, invested time and opened themselves to questions and shared accountability. They demonstrated and developed trust through the releasing of power and resources. And they took risks that did not always result in success.

    Now that I'm an existing leader, I also need to seek out and commit to strong partnerships with emerging leaders. Just like Peter, I need to revisit my understanding of how the Church—and The Salvation Army—will function in this strange, new post-modern culture that is increasingly post-Christian and post-denominational.

    If the times they are a-changin', then we should not be surprised by the desperate need for an accompanying shift in leadership—nor should we resist it. The command-and-control leadership style, so effective in a modern culture, needs the influence of a different leadership style that will be effective in a post-modern culture. Our future depends on leaders—existing and emerging—committed to partnering with mutual respect, a joyful openness and willing accountability.

    Colonel Floyd Tidd is the chief secretary of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.


    On Saturday, August 11, 2012, Mike Brown said:

    Leadership is very important however we must always as Christians check what our Lord has to say (The Bible) not only rely on our earthly leaders as we all are sinful people saved by His Grace. As soldiers of the Salvation you should be continually praying for your Leaders not forget them as they move to another appointment. I am no longer a Salvationist but I do continue to pray for many that I have met in my travels. Most of the leaders are now retired but I continue to pray for them and even the few that are still active that I know. God has truly blessed me in having met men that have helped me change my life, Thank you Bob,Don,Floyd,Dave, Herb, James, Brian and so many more. May God bless the S.A. as they serve Him.

    On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, Mark Stanley said:

    This article hits the key issue for leaders today - trust. It is hard to earn, easy to lose, and is not automatically endowed with appointment or promotion. Where trust exists, we who lead are given a great deal of latitude, "benefit of the doubt", and forgiveness by those we serve. Where trust is absent - be it followers who do not trust their leaders, or leaders who do not trust their followers - relationships suffer and true partnership is impossible.

    Partnership requires accountability. The notion that "existing [senior] leaders must be accountable to emerging [junior] leaders" can be problematic in a command-and-control, hierarchical organization like The Salvation Army. How can we operationalize this imperative? What would this upward accountability look like? I would offer that in addition to the recommendations of my colleagues who have posted earlier (the need for openness, transparency, inclusion, consultation, and an atmosphere of trust), we need accountability - and that requires a climate and culture where fair process is ingrained, where existing, senior leaders actively pursue, value, and act on feedback, and where healthy, constructive debate between existing [senior] leaders and emerging [junior] leaders is normative.

    I am encouraged and appreciative of Colonel Tidd’s willingness to engage in this discussion.

    On Sunday, June 3, 2012, Kathie Chiu said:

    This article is timely in many ways. I want so much to be hopeful, but I'm not sure that all of the existing leaders today around the SA world will see the idea of openness and sharing the same way. This is a delicate dance. I agree with Rob. We need our leadership to see openness and vulnerability as a positive and have faith that God will use that openness to lead others to a greater trust in our organization.

    However, perhaps the greater challenge will be to create an atmosphere of trust within the organization between the leaders and the officers on the front lines - and the people who follow them both. Open dialogue, more input from corps leaders on the issues of church practices and appointments, and less command and control from the top and shared power. A true leader empowers others and doesn't exert their power and control over them. This is not a new idea.

    Mark 10:42-45
    “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life ransom for many.”

    True leadership is servant leadership - putting others needs before our own. Transformational leadership seeks to see people grow and change and here we are wanting to be a transformational influence in the world. If that is true of what we want, then we need to be servant-transformational leaders.

    May God help us to be what He wants us to be. In the midst of our human behaviour, that is so different from God's vision for us, I pray for HIS Holy Spirit to come upon us and help us with this change. For if we don't do something soon, there won't be anything left to change.

    I believe we have the courage to do this. I pray for our leaders to step out in bold faith and lead us through this era of rapid change and help us adjust. Thank you to Col. Floyd Tidd for putting the challenge out there to all of us.

    On Sunday, June 3, 2012, markbraye said:

    This is a great article. Wonderful insight. Timely. I wonder, however, if the Army as an organization is truly ready for such a shift. Command-and-control and hierarchy are part of our very DNA; has been since our inception. What are some of the implications of such a shift? Do you think the Army could make this shift? Do we need an even bigger shift?

    On Saturday, June 2, 2012, Major John Gerard said:

    The Chief has plainly outlined the staples of leadership. All well and good! But one prop that appears missing is communication with retired Officers.The Retired Officer numbers outnumber the Active Officers in this Territory. Yet, when and where does the Leadership actually seekout our advise on matters of state or functionality? Leadership wants our support and body count but where is the sharing of the old with the new in real Council. There is so much to learn from each other.

    Officers Councils are not enough. What is appreciated is when an Active Officer seeks out one or several Retired Officers to discuss and pray over a proposed policy change or local circumstance.

    May God use this combined resource for His honour and glory!

    On Friday, June 1, 2012, Rob Reardon said:

    Great points - openness, transparency, accountability & integrity are essential to creating trust with younger leaders. However, if this trust is to be maintained and built upon, secrecy or even the appearance of secrecy needs to go away. I'm not talking about confidentiality - there are issues and circumstances that need to remain confidential. But, secrecy for the sake of withholding information is a practice that must be put aside.

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