“Leadership will always play a key role during those times when a society faces a new problem and must develop new responses to a given situation. One of the functions of leadership is to provide guidance at precisely those times when habitual ways of doing things no longer work.”- Edgar H Schein, ‘Organisational Culture and Leadership’
The world is in search of a new brand of leadership that can take the initiative in times of change.
There are basically two kinds of people in this world – those who make the movies and those who watch them. Would you rather be a consumer of other people’s agenda or be part of a group that sets a higher agenda?
We live in a time of remarkable transition and great opportunity.
The future belongs to those who can discern the times and know how to proceed in them; those who can discern the emergence of a new narrative, and those who have the faith imagination to respond positively to it. It belongs also to those who have the courage to commit themselves to help inspired people find their role in shaping a better tomorrow.
The emerging role of the leader producer.
To achieve these goals we need leaders who are producers; who can see a story and bring the needs and resources together to resource the story, and are willing to help others become the stars. They must be able to create the social architecture so others can find their roles. They must also be able to take initiative without fear and move forward with great courage in the face of inertia and collective doubt.
Institutions shaped by questions of the past seem to lack real and functional answers for today.
We have come to a time when our institutions are foundering, and seem to have passed their use by date. There are three responses we can have A : Deny it’s happening B : Complain that its happening, or C : See it as a creative God given opportunity to lead captives to the freedom of a ‘promised land.’
The need for visionary producers who also have the discipline to be good managers.
There are only two characters we see in the Old Testament who have no sin recorded against their names, though we see them in times of great stress – Daniel and Joseph. They are noted for their capacity to handle dreams and visions, as well as for being great and efficient managers. They rise to great heights because they can anticipate the future and lead people to it.
We tend to have visionaries and administrators, and never the twain shall meet. It has been said, ”It’s those who can see the invisible who seem to do the impossible.”
Dr Ann Dosher from San Diego University saw it in terms of the various roles that function in the process of transformation. First there’s the Agitator who sees what’s wrong; those things that focus frustration. Next there is the need for the ‘Prophet Mythmaker’(see my book The Divine Art of Networking), who can see not only what’s wrong but also what might be, and tells the story about the preferred future. It is the prophet myth maker who shows what is not only the moral thing to do but, but also helps people see the specific role they can play in changing the course of history.
An agitator may point out the breakdown in modern society. A prophet mythmaker calls people to what he believes to be a God given strategy to remedy it. Let me illustrate further.
The three multilayered objectives approach.
A new multilevel approach to mission designed to hit four strategic targets in the one event, initiates a transformational process.
The catalytic opportunity: The alienation that takes place at Christmas.
An example might be the use of Advent Pageants in the local community to achieve a larger objective. The timeless vision might be, to “transform the world one community at a time by bringing young people and their communities together with hope.”
It is not just about having an Advent Pageant; It’s about transforming the world one community at a time. It forces the leader and their team to think about how they can work with this to set in train a redemptive process. The one action done thoughtfully can achieve multiple important objectives.
All genuinely expressing the ‘real meaning of the season.’
It is about using the tactic of an Advent Pageant to work with schools so as to complete the school year by having children in costume move in procession to the centre of the town singing carols. They are led by Mary, Joseph and a donkey. It’s a design I helped formulate in the year 2000, and is not simply an idea but if pursued with generosity it has proven to be an idea whose time has come. All the questions as to why it won’t work have been answered over a decade. It has now spread around the world to nations like China, Hindu India, Africa, and Jamaica. Muslim nations are more convinced than many in the west that Jesus was born of a virgin, and have willingly joined in, ensuring the events are inclusive and not divisive.
Repeated over three to five years at Christmas, the Advent Pageant achieves three integrated objectives all designed to build bonding and bridging social capital while sharing the Christmas story.
The three objectives are 1: To precipitate over 3 to 5 years a process that minimises alienation by building bonding and bridging social capital in a local community.
2: To bring various schools and their neighbourhoods together to the heart of the community, where the children’s singing and performance enriches the whole community. The goodwill of the entire region can be won through use of media coverage that places the children and the Christmas story front and centre.
3: To do it so that it becomes a template easily replicated in other parts of the nation and around the world, so that eventually 75% of the world’s children not only hear the Christmas story, but by acting it out internalise its message. All this is done in such a way as to empower the children to build a new sense of connectedness, at the centre of their own community.
This is transformational mission designed to build community.
If it was simply a message yelled at the people though an amplifier by someone neither the children nor the community knew, it would alienate. If the event is done thoughtfully it can further build connections between young people and their communities, by inviting local mayors, dignitaries and well known members of the community who may not normally connect with each other. It is all built around the Christmas story. This is simply one of many tactics that can be used to turn an alienating moment into a redemptive moment. One Advent pageant this year saw two schools come together – a notable act in itself – on the border of two poor and volatile communities in Kingston Jamaica.
Once the community has experienced the joy of being together, you can expect more chances to do similar things on special occasions, such as Easter, Remembrance Day, or around special events like World Club Soccer, Olympic games, World Cup Cricket or a royal wedding! You will have begun to have prepared the soil for a harvest of peace. After all the prophet Jeremiah tells us we are to seek the peace of the city.
Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the family of God.