A New Understanding of Leadership

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Chapter Three: Servant-Leadership


In the previous chapter I briefly laid out the theological foundation for an organic model of church-in-mission \Yhich can be found in the Vatican II documents. I also noted some of the developments that have taken place since then, and concluded that a changed leadership style is required to translate a renewed ecclesiology into practice. Such a style is hardly present in church documents and in practice exists only sporadically where particular efforts are being made in a number of countries to implement a mission-oriented ecclesiology. In this chapter I shall make a study of some leadership theories from the corporate world which has been busy studying and experimenting with leadership styles for decades, a time-frame which parallels the post-Vatican II years. My purpose is to discover if the world of commerce and industry can make a contribution to the church. Is there, for example, .1 leadership theory that might show us how to implement a missiological ecclesiology, whose seeds we discovered in the Vatican II documents?

 \Vhere is Leadership Today?

One thing that has tecome more obvious to me over the years is that there is a lack of leadership in the Ren.an Catholic Church at a number of levels. Although the terms « leaders » and « leade:-ship » are commonly used, in most cases they refer to what Bums calls « executive lea:.ership » which is based on bureaucracy (paragraph 3.6.2). Homsby-Smith ( 1989: 190) offers many examples of how parish priests have used coercive forms of what he calls « veto-power » to suppress the intrusion and dissemination of views. In my experience it is rare to come across a bishop or pastor who has a clear vision for the ecclesiastical region under his authority. For example, how many church leaders – the more relevant question is « How few? » –  have brought in an outside facilitator and worked out with their diocesan I parish leaders a mission statement and a plan of operation? Even when such action has taken place, how many have followed through with a number of evaluation stages, which include a re-planning process in the light of their reflection on experience? It seems obvious to some (for example, Bums 1978:460) that the least a leader should do is work on immediate, short-term and easily definable goals. Reflection on these can lead to intermediate and long-term planning. These are presumed steps for those institutions – both companies and churches – which are well organised, efficient and successful.
Among some efforts in this direction, a particularly effective contribution is being made ecumenically within the Southern African church by the professional services of Community Consulting Services and Sophia Consulting Services, both of which are run by Dominican Sisters from Johannesburg. The South African based Lumko Institute is perhaps the best example of an organisation which has a clear vision of a church-in-mission at parochial level. It produces publications which offer a participatory methodology to bring this vision about. I have pointed out in detail elsewhere (Prior 1993) how even this Institute’s publications lack a fully missiological basis and that many church leaders use them to motivate laity to shoulder more parish activities without, however, changing their own style of leadership.
This poor quality of leadership is not confined to the church (see, for example, Coleman 1992:241). Despite the progress being made by many companies, and a plethora of books written on the subject ofleadership, the majority of businesses still seem to suffer from a lack of good leadership. Many writers on leadership theory bemoan the fact that there is such a dearth of leadership in the business world. Bums writes of a craving for compelling and creative leadership and believes that today’s crisis of leadership comes from « mediocrity or irresponsibility of so many of the men and women in power » (Bums 1978: 1). The call for good leadership, he says, « is one of the keynotes of our time » (1978:451 ). Gardner sees the problem in the followers: they are looking for a parental figure to call all the shots (Gardner 1990:xi-xiii). One of the major assertions of Greenleaf s theory is that society suffers from a widespread alienation because of so many low-serving institutions. He believes that the churches have failed to fulfil their crucial role in societal and institutional renewal (Greenleaf 1996: 179). Jaworski believes that the static, hierarchical model of leadership is stultifying unused potential. In order to harness this wasted, hidden talent, a new « open, flexible and participatory kind of leadership is necessary » (Jaworski 1996:6-3.65). Among many other authors who have written on the subject, similar views to the above are to be found in Greeley et al ( 1981: 120), Wyn (1984:6-13), Carver (1990: 1-23), Bianchi & Ruether (1992: 10), Gilmour (1993:85) and Robbins ( 1998:482-486).

Studies on Leadership

There has been a vast amount of material published on leaders and leadership during the twentieth century. Bass, picking up on Stogdill’s work (1974), analysed 4,725 works in his 1981 study (quoted by Rost 1991:4). Rost himself studied a further 550 books, chapters and journal articles from the 1980’s for his own volume (1991:9). Faced with this enormous amount of material I wondered where I should begin. Many of the books left me with a dissatisfied taste until I found a few outstanding works which not only lifted the quality of study to a higher plane, but confirmed for me that most leadership books do not have much to offer the serious student. They are full of platitudes and often centre their work around an endless list of qualities required by leaders. D’Souza (1989), for example, lists 18, DeBrin (1998) offers 30, Brown and Brown (1994) give us 33 and Greenslade (1984) expects the leader to have 46 discernible qualities! Not only is this expecting the impossible – must all leaders possess all these qualities? – but such lists beg the question as to whether a leader should be the only one « in leadership ». Is everyone else merely a passive follower?
Another problem with many of these studies is that they do not have a careful definition of leader and leadership from which they work out their theory. Shaw (1981) describes how everyone knows what a leader is until one is asked for a definition. He then offers five definitions himself, beginning with a person « who leads the group toward its goals » and ending with « a person who engages in leadership behaviours » (Shaw 1981 :318). While the latter is too vague to be useful, the former is a limitation of what is regarded by many as the three areas of group influence: goals, relationships and personal fulfilment. See, for example, Benson (1987:63-73), D’Souza (1989:69-71) and Parker (sa: 17-18). Douglas ( 1978: 102-120) prefers observation, intervention and assessment. In a placatory gesture Chemers suggests that despite the seeming chaos, the various theories are saying the same thing in slightly different ways (Chemers 1984: 105).
A further difficulty arises from confusion over the terms leader and manager. Many authors use the words leader and manager interchangeably. For example, Brown and Brown (1994:13), in an otherwise excellent study of empowerment in organisations, speak of managers, empowered persons and leadership without defining any of these terms.
Bridges (1995:7) deals only with managers, though their task is not only to manage transitions in an organisation but also to exercise leadership. Other authors also use the term manager only, although they are describing what many would call leaders, for example: Stewart (1994), Henry (1991) and Weaver & Farrell (1997). It will be important to define our terms, particularly as this study is concerned with leadership and its effect on the missionary nature of the church at parish level. We will need to know who can be called a leader and how that leadership can be exercised to lead a community into mission.

The Development of Leadership Theory

I described in Chapter One the reasons for my own interest in the subject ofleadership. Major authors have theirs. In the following paragraph I shall outline the influences on three seminal thinkers, Robert K Greenleaf, James MacGregor Bums and Joseph C Rost. I shall then describe what I regard as the main themes which need discussing under the title « leadership », pointing to the three above-mentioned non-mainstream authors, but also referring to others who have a contribution to make. I will include comments on the influence they could have on a parish attempting to become a church-in-mission. My own summary description of leadership will conclude the chapter. While developing this I shall keep in mind the overall purpose of this chapter which is to seek for a leadership style which would be appropriate for leaders who wish to implement the missionary ecclesiology of Vatican II. In the process we shall discover if such a theory offers a contribution to the science of missiology.

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Influences on the Major Authors

There were five major influences in Greenleaf s life which were to culminate in the outlining of his theory of servant-leadership (Greenleaf 1996:43). The first was his father who, although of limited formal education, left « a little corner of the world a bit better than he found it » and for this he « stands tall as a true servant » ( 1995: 17). Greenleaf followed the advice of an unnamed lecturer at university who advised members of the class to become involved in a large institution and influence it for the good (1995:18). A third influence was a writer who encouraged him to look holistically at life. The fourth influence was a radio commentator who spoke about the important contribution that older people have to make. Greenleaf regarded his 38 « working years » as a preparation for his most productive and satisfying work, during which he developed his theory of servant- leadership between the ages of 60 and 75.
The fifth major influence came about during the student unrest in the l 960’s. « The students’ attitudes », he wrote (1995:21) « seemed to me to stem from a lack of hope, a lack of belief by those young people that they could live productively in the world of institutions as they then were (and still are). » He regarded the student unrest as symptomatic of a massive mental illness in society. He discovered that one of the more popular books among the students was Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East. Reading this book was to prove pivotal for Greenleaf in outlining his theory of servant-leadership (Spears 1995:21). He summarises the story as follows.
In this story we see a band of men on a mythical journey, probably also Hesse’s own journey. The central figure of the story is Leo who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song. He is a person of extraordinary presence. All goes well until Leo disappears. Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned. They cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader (1977:7).
Leo is the leader because he is the servant first. His servant nature cannot be taken from him because that is what he is « deep down inside ». Because of this people bestow leadership on him. « Leadership is something given or assumed » (1995:20). Greenleaf wrote The Servant-Leader in order to offer hope to the students and, to anyone else who would listen, with the hope that they might join forces to work for a better society.
Greenleaf s theory is explained in his three core books The Servant as Leader, written in 1969, The Institlllion as Servant and Trustees as Servants (published along with other essays in 1977). Also important for this study have been recently published shorter essays and collections of essays concerning religious leadership (Greenleaf 1996; Greenleaf 1998; Spears 1995; Spears 1998; Bogle 1999; Carver 1999;) which include formerly unpublished talks by Greenleaf. as well as articles about his leadership theory by other authors.
The major influence in Bums’ life was his decades as political advisor to a succession of United States’ Presidents, both Republican and Democrat. His major publication, Leadership (1978). which Kellerman refers to as « his path-breaking book » (Kellerman 1984:79), appeared a few years after Greenleaf s first book. Among his dozen publications Bums has co-authored two high school textbooks on the American political system (1958; 1981 ), as well as books on leadership, such as State and Local Politics: Government by the People (1963) and The Power to Lead: The Crisis ofthe American Presidency (1984).
Rost, a student of Bums, claims he has been thinking about leadership since his high school days. Thro:.:ghout his own teaching career he kept the subject to the fore in his teaching of history and social studies, including a programme to develop church lay leaders. His interest in the subject intensified when he became a schools superintendent and this led to a career at the University of San Diego where he set up the first doctoral School of Leadership in the United States. Leadership is not his job or profession, he says, but his life (Rost 1991 :xiv). His major work, Leadership in the Twenty-First Century, is a critique of the contributions of both scholars and practitioners of the twentieth century and a proposed direction forward for an understanding of leadership for what he calls a post-industrial paradigm.

A New Understanding of Leadership

Rost ( 1991: 18) has described how the emphasis on leadership studies has changed throughout the twentieth century. During the first two decades writers spoke of how only great men (and a few women) could be leaders. In the 1930’s attention was given to the contribution of democracy to leadership. During the next twenty yea scholars described the traits that should belong to all good leaders. In the l 960’s leadership became a study of the behaviourists: how should leaders act? The next contribution, during the 1970’s, was made by those who demanded that each particular situation be taken into account. From the 1980’s onwards there has been an emphasis on excellence: to excel as a leader one needs to possess a list of qualities and be able to use them to get one’s followers to willingly put into action one’s own wishes. While Rost’s list of mainstream authors is somewhat artificial – it is roughly paralleled, though, by Shaw (1981 :315-316) – it does point to the development of ideas about leadership throughout the last century. It must be noted, however, that the movement is cumulative. As new ideas are introduced, so they are carried on into the following decades.

Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Personal Involvement in the Issue
1.4 Significance of the Study
1.5 Methodology
1.6 A Qualitative Research Method
1.7 Fieldwork Sources
1.8 Validity
1.9 Structure of the Study
Chapter Two: A Renewed Roman Catholic Ecclesiology
2.1 The Roots of a New Ecclesiology
2.2 The Fundamental Structure of the Church
2.3 Leadership According to Vatican II
2.4 Developments in Local Churches
2.5 Conclusion
Chapter Three: Servant-Leadership
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Where is Leadership Today?
3.3 Studies on Leadership
3.4 The Development of Leadership Theory
3.5 A New Understanding of Leadership
3.6 Definitions of Leadership
3.7 The Ethics of Leadership Decisions
3.8 Education and Growth for Leadership
3.9 Leadership for Change
3.10 HopeinYouth
3.11 The Institution as Servant
3.12 The Growing Edge Church
3.13 The Primus inter Pares in the Parish
3 .14 Towards a Description of Pastoral Leadership
3 .15 Conclusion
Chapter Four: The Church in the Philippines
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Geography of the Philippines
4.2 The History of the Church
4.3 The Seventeenth Century
4.4  The Growth of Filipino Nationalism
4.5 The Resurgence of the Roman Catholic Church
Chapter Five: Leadership for a Participatory Church
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Parish Structures
5.3 Initial Efforts
5.6 An Image for the Whole Parish
5.7 Youth Leadership
5.8 Efforts at Inculturation
5.9 The Role of the Parish Formation Team
5.10 Conclusion
Chapter Six: Leadership for Liberation
6.1 Introduction
6.2 First Efforts at Social Involvement
6.3 The Charity Model of Social Ministry
6.4 The Organisation Model of Social Ministry
6.5 Strategy Guided by Values
6.6 Development as Formation
6.7 The Pagkalinga Workers
6.8 The Liberation Model of Social Ministry
6.9 Two Concerns about Social Ministry
6.10 Conclusion
Chapter Seven: Leadership as Empowerment for Service
7.1 Introduction
7.2 The Annual Formation Cycle
7.3 Ministries in the Barrios I Ugnayon
7.4 Leadership for Empowerment
7.5 Basic Ecclesial Communities
7.6 Conclusion
Chapter Eight: Leadership in Service of Mission
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Integration of the Thesis
8.3 Leadership for Service
8.4 Conclusion

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