The third weekend in Advent 2018

Without being overly political or overly anti-clerical, I would say we have major leadership problems in church and state: dishonest and disingenuous politicians, claiming to be virtuous; and religions leaders, claiming to be good Christians, but concealing and lying about their sexual abuse of children, men, and women…..Clerical sexual abuse by the way is not just a Catholic problem…….We are in the dark days before Christmas and we need light and enlightenment.

Leadership? Leadership is all about getting people to work together to make good things happen that might not otherwise occur or to prevent bad things from happening that would ordinarily take place.

Doing some pre-holidays cleaning, I found a forgotten book: Daniel Goleman’s Primal Leadership. For me this was real Advent serendipity……

Goleman co-directs the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University.

In his book Primal Leadership, Goleman describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can be helped to move among these styles, adopting the one that best meets the needs of the moment. Leaders need support but also ongoing and constructive criticism.

(1) Visionary Leadership: This style is most appropriate when an organization needs a new direction. The goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. Visionary leaders articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, and even take calculated risks.

(2) Coaching Leadership: This one-on-one style focuses on developing leaders, showing them how to improve their performance, and helping them connect their goals to the goals of the organization. Regular performance appraisals are a great aid here….good for teachers, pastors, and bishops.

(3) Affiliative Leadership: This style emphasizes the importance of team work, and creates harmony in a group by connecting people to each other. The authority structure here is not the vertical pyramid (as in ancient Rome) but the horizontal circle of colleagues with shared leadership and shared decision-making. Goleman argues that this approach is particularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.”

(4) Democratic Leadership: This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals. This works best when the direction the organization should take is unclear, and the leader needs to tap the collective wisdom of the group.

(5) Pacesetting Leadership: In this style, the leader sets high standards for performance. He or she is “obsessive about doing things better and faster, and asks the same of everyone.” Goleman warns, however, that this style should be used sparingly, because it can undercut morale and make people feel as if they are failing.

(6) Commanding Leadership: This is the classic model of “military” style leadership – probably the most often used, but most often the least effective. We see this in today’s church of course. Since it rarely involves praise and frequently employs criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. Goleman argues it is only effective in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed.

Now we move closer to Christmas; but there is good material here for New Year’s resolutions. ☺️

May we better observe, better judge, and better act!


PS And: May we all be the kind of leaders we wish we had!

One thought on “Leadership in Dark Days

  1. Thank you for discussing the types of leadership and our current critical need for it, both in church and state.

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