The Journey Blog

Reflections on the art of leading

Leadership Shaped for the Future

From what I’ve seen and learned there is a surprising, unexpected blend of qualities that the best leaders share, and it is often counter to the definition of “success” as commonly defined.

Some qualities are things you would expect, like vision, courage, and willingness to take risks of faith. Some are not the typical values of the corporate world: like humility, caring for people they lead, and willingness to let others have credit for successes.

What I find most interesting is that best leadership is servant leadership—Ken Blanchard has observed that this was exemplified by and taught by Jesus. It is an unlikely blend of qualities and practices. The practices range from helping organizations learn and adapt instead of merely fixing problems quickly (Ron Heifetz and Marty Linksy call it “adaptive leadership”) to being “humble-ambitious” (what Jim Collins named “paradoxical leadership” where a leader is driven by high ideals and ambition but not a "driver" and user of others). One of my mentors was Jack Miller. He called it the “weak-strong” person, who finds strength in the Spirit out of an honest ownership of one's weakness.

This is leadership that has enduring impact. It is "oxymoronic"...paradoxical...and truly uncommon.

In upcoming blogs I will be sharing more of the principles and practices I’m learning, and why they help to create healthy, lasting organizations while others do not.