Saturday, July 22, 2017

Destructive Leadership

Transformational leaders appeal to the moral values of their followers, seek to elevate their ethical awareness, and motivate and involve them in the mission of the organization. Followers will trust, admire, give loyalty to, and respect these types of  leaders. The opposite of this visionary and ethics-based leadership is a self-serving unethical leadership that leads to the destruction of organizations and the people associated with them. Have you ever witnessed this type of destructive leadership?

(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)

In his classic article “The Dark Side of Leadership,” Conger (1990) identified a number of reasons why some visionary leaders fail and fail miserably, highlighting negative leaders who place their personal needs as paramount, chase their visions while miscalculating circumstantial realities, and use their communication skills to deny flaws in their vision and manage their image. 

In their book, The Allure of Toxic Leaders, Lipman-Blumen (2005) described destructive and toxic leaders as those who exhibit highly dysfunctional personality characteristics. But they also placed blame upon followers who seek out such leaders in the midst of challenging and often fearful circumstances. Often, both destructive leaders and those who follow them rationalize their views and mutually support one another and end up advancing a system of destructive leadership.

Recently, Padilla, Hogan, and Kaiser (2007) provided a useful description of destructive leadership theory in terms of a toxic triangle made up of threes dimensions, the “confluence of destructive leaders, susceptible followers, and conducive environments” (p. 176). 
  • Destructive Leaders exhibit the characteristics of “charisma, personalized need for power, narcissism, negative life history, and an ideology of hate” (p. 182). 
  • Susceptible Followers come in two groups, conformers and colluders, “conformers comply with destructive leaders out of fear, whereas colluders actively participate in a destructive leader’s agenda” (p. 183). Conformers make themselves vulnerable because of their “unmet basic needs, negative core self-evaluations, and immaturity” (p. 180). Colluders actively support destructive leaders because of the opportunity to enact their “similar ambitions, worldview, and values” (p. 180). 
  • Conducive Environments for destructive leadership include four factors: “instability, perceived threat, cultural values, and absence of checks and balances and institutionalization” (p. 185).
Have you ever observed destructive leadership theory at work in an organization? What could be done to help those involved dismantle the toxic triangle of destructive leadership, susceptible followership, and conducive environmental factors? What might be the role of prayer, repentance, forgiveness, and the use of wisdom for instituting change?

Conger, J. (1990). The dark side of leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 19(2), 44-55.

Lipman-Blumen, J. (2005). The allure of toxic leaders: Why we follow destructive bosses and corrupt politicians—and how we can survive them. New York: Oxford University. 

Padilla, A., Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R. B. (2007). The toxic triangle: Destructive leaders, susceptible followers, and conducive environments. The Leadership Quarterly, 18(3), 176-194.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Organizational Citizenship Behavior

In simple terms, organizational citizenship behavior basically refers to “being civil or polite with regard to others in an organization” (Konopaske et al., 2017, p. 200). Does this describe the culture of the organizations to which you belong? Does it characterize you? Are you a good organizational citizen? Do you help others become better organizational citizens?

(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)

Good Citizenship

The Apostle Paul opened and closed his letter to the Philippian church talking about good citizenship (1:27; 3:20). He emphasized their heavenly citizenship as Christians; yet, he played off of their pride (in a positive sense) of being good citizens of their city and the Roman empire.

Philippians 1:27 ESV (modified) “Just one thing: behave as citizens [Gk., politeuesthe] worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in the One Spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” 

The Philippians prided themselves on being Roman citizens. But as Christians, they were to be proud of their heavenly citizenship even moreso. The Apostle Paul was playing off of, and playing against, their Roman citizenship, just like we do in the American church, and churches around the world do, as well. As Christians, we posses dual citizenship (as Martin Luther taught); we are members of two kingdoms at the same time—Christ’s heavenly kingdom and some earthly kingdom (political entity).

Future Citizenship

We are already citizens of heaven, because of Christ’s righteousness, and will live there eventually (cf. Ephesians 2:19). For now, we are governed by Christ as a “colony of heavenly citizens” (as one biblical dictionary put it) here on earth as “aliens” (1 Peter). And He is ruling from heaven with all power all things on behalf of His Church. Our future should be strongly guiding our present lives.

Philippians 3:17, 20 ESV “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. . . . For our citizenship [Gk., politeuma] is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

We are eagerly waiting a Savior from heaven, the Lord, Jesus Christ. This is a direct reference to Caesar Augustus and his imperial titles of “Lord” and “Savior.” He was called the “Savior of the world” because of bringing order and peace throughout the civilized Roman world. But, Jesus Christ, the True Lord and Savior, will return to this earth from heaven as the True Emperor of All. He will deliver us from our suffering and fears and trials in this world—He is our hope!

Daily Life Citizenship 

Let’s return now to Konopaske’s et al. (2017) definition of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) as referring to “being civil or polite with regard to others in an organization.” After reviewing the Apostle Paul’s correspondence with the Philippian church, this seems so basic, and truly a simple reality for Christians to live out at their places of employment, in their churches, and within their mission organizations.

Podsakoff et al. (1990) described OCB as discretionary behavior by an employee that goes beyond the role requirements of one’s job. Think about your job—your secular job, your job at church, your job in the mission, and your job in whatever other organizations you belong to. Podsakoff et al. identified five key dimensions of OCB: 
  1. Altruism, which refers to helping others; 
  2. Conscientiousness, which refers to exceeding minimum role requirements;
  3. Sportsmanship, which refers to toleration without complaining; 
  4. Courtesy, which refers to prevention of problems; and 
  5. Civic Virtue, which refers to taking an active part in the life of the organization.
What if we as citizens of the kingdom of God lived out, and encouraged others to live out, such recognized concepts of OCB in our workplaces, churches, and missions as part of the worthy behavior of Philippians 1:27? What difference do you think this would this make?

Konopaske, R., Ivancevich, J. M., & Matteson, M. T. (2017). Organizational behavior and management (11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H., & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviors and their effects on followers’ trust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 1(2), 107-142.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Authentic Leadership

Contemporary society desires authenticity from its leaders, whether the leaders are high profile or simply the leaders people encounter and work with every day in their jobs or volunteer organizations. Positive, healthy, and trustworthy leaders build confidence in their followers and contribute to their satisfaction and productivity. However, repeated public scandals in business, government, and non-profit sectors continue to raise suspicion about leader authenticity and fuel the demand for greater accountability to achieve it. 

(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)

As a recent working theory of leadership, authentic leadership has attempted to bring together effective leadership and ethical leadership. Authentic leaders possess a high degree of self-awareness and self-acceptance, and are guided by strong personal positive core values. Because of their integrity and transparency, followers readily identify with them and perceive them to be optimistic, confident, and worthy of trust. Authenticity also involves consistency between the followers’ values and the leader’s values and behaviors. 

Researchers have proposed various definitions of authentic leadership and ways of measuring it. Most commonly accepted, Walumbwa et al. (2008) have defined authentic leadership as “a pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency [emphasis added] on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self-development” (p. 94).

Four Dimensions of Authentic Leadership with Applications for Church and Mission

Self-awareness refers to an awareness of how one “makes meaning of the world” (p. 95) and how this process impacts one’s view of self. Furthermore, self-aware individuals grow in their understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses through exposure to, and experience with, others and observing their impact upon them. What about leaders in the church and mission, how might such leaders seek to grow in awareness of their strengths and weaknesses?

A leader with internalized moral perspective will consistently make decisions based upon internal moral standards and values. Those possessing deep personal self-regulation will guide themselves based upon moral convictions even in the face of “group, organizational, and societal pressures” (p. 95). What about leaders in the church and mission, how might such leaders develop deeper moral integrity and exhibit this more consistently?

Balanced processing of information refers to the ability to “objectively analyze all relevant data before coming to a decision” (p. 95), which includes intentionally seeking out alternate viewpoints from one’s own. What about leaders in the church and mission, how might such leaders learn to seek out and appreciate input from others with differing viewpoints?

Relational transparency refers to the presentation of one’s true self to others, building trust through open disclosure. Those who exhibit relational transparency can also control their emotions, “minimizing displays of inappropriate emotions” (p. 95). What about leaders in the church and mission, how might such leaders build greater trust by sharing more of themselves?

Authentic leadership theory offers much direction and content for reflection on leadership in the church and mission worlds. We also want and need authentic leaders and followers who demonstrate relational openness and exhibit congruency in their values and behaviors.

Walumbwa, F. O., Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Wernsing, T. S., & Peterson, S. J. (2008). Authentic leadership: Development and validation of a theory-based measure. Journal of Management, 34(1), 89-126.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Culture And Leadership

The Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research program began in 1993 and to date has studied 60 cultures organized into 10 culture clusters. The GLOBE study has served as an incredibly useful resource for examining leadership across cultures and will in the years to come. Below is a brief overview to stimulate thinking about culture and leadership where you work or minister.

(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)

The GLOBE researchers discovered six global leadership dimensions of culturally endorsed implicit leadership theories. In other words, these leadership approaches would be implicitly believed to be what makes leaders effective. Two were universally endorsed by all cultures: (a) charismatic/value-based leadership and (b) team-based leadership. Two were endorsed by a majority of cultures: (c) participative leadership and (d) humaneness leadership. Two were endorsed differently by different cultures: (e) self-protective leadership and (f) autonomous leadership. Effective leaders will make use of the appropriate culturally endorsed theories of leadership within a specific culture, while also taking into account further dimensions of culture. 

The GLOBE researchers described nine dimensions of culture: (a) uncertainty avoidance, the alleviation of unpredictability of future events; (b) power distance, the acceptance of unequal distribution of power; (c) social collectivism, the collective distribution of resources and collective action at a larger group level; (d) in-group collectivism, the pride, loyalty, and cohesion within organizations or families; (e) gender egalitarianism, the minimization of gender inequality; (f) assertiveness, the aggressiveness or confrontation in relationships; (g) future orientation, the engaging in behaviors such as delayed gratification, planning, and investing; (h) performance orientation, the encouragement and rewarding for improvement and excellence; and (i) humaneness orientation, the encouragement and rewarding of fairness, altruism, generosity, caring, and kindness.

Certainly, culture consists of far more fascinating complexity than the nine cultural dimensions and the six culturally endorsed implicit leadership theories. However, these explain a lot and help us see more clearly and understand more thoroughly how leadership works in various cultures around the world. They also help us think through how leaders shape and can re-shape culture. So, when we serve cross-culturally, how can we make full use of culturally endorsed implicit approaches to leadership? How can we do this most effectively considering all the various dimensions of the culture in which we are working?

Dorfman, P., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., Dastmalchian, A., & House, R. (2012). GLOBE: A twenty year journey into the intriguing world of culture and leadership. Journal of World Business, 47(4), 504-518.

House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., & Dorfman, P. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: An introduction to project GLOBE. Journal of World Business, 37(1), 3-10.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Servant Leadership

We talk about servant leadership a lot in our churches and missions, but different leaders mean different things when using the term and practice servant leadership differently. 

(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)

Robert K. Greenleaf developed the leadership theory we call “servant leadership” in 1970. Greenleaf (1977) based his theory of servant leadership on examples from the New Testament. Other theorists have continued to explore the Scriptures and leadership studies and have furthered the description of servant leadership. Jesus Christ set the example when he washed his disciples feet and finished with these words:

John 13:14–16 ESV “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

The Theory

In servant leadership theory, leaders primarily attend to the needs of followers, while accomplishing organizational goals as a secondary priority. Servant leaders build trust with their followers by communicating openly and honestly, exhibiting personal integrity, and trusting followers themselves. Servant leaders listen to their followers’ personal concerns, help them grow wiser and healthier, and empower them to achieve their individual goals. Such leaders seek to create a culture focused on caring for the needs of all the organization's members as they work together to achieve common goals, all the while seeking to develop many other servant leaders within the organization. 

Patterson (2003) developed seven constructs for describing servant leadership: (a) love, (b) humility, (c) altruism, (d) vision, (e) trust, (f) empowerment, and (g) service. In Patterson’s definition, love concerns itself with moral judgment and action. Humility shows itself by keeping proper perspective of oneself and staying focused on others. Altruism consists of concern for the welfare of others and acting with complete fairness. Vision focuses on the personal vision and faith of followers, not the organization’s vision, rather the individual’s goals and fit within the organization. Leaders build trust through integrity and mutual respect. Leaders empower others by truly sharing power, emphasizing teamwork, and valuing input. Finally, the mission of servant leadership will be achieved by service as a way of life, attitude of the soul, and manner of being.

Servant leaders primarily concern themselves with serving their followers, while also helping them contribute to the organization's mission. How applicable is servant leadership in leading your church or mission?

Greenleaf, R. K. (1977) Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist.

Patterson, K. A. (2003). Servant leadership: A theoretical model. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable, Virginia Beach, VA. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Approved And Entrusted

The concepts of being “approved” by God and “entrusted” with His gospel played a key role in the Apostle Paul’s self-understanding of his mission, his relationship to God, and his relationship with all people including the Thessalonians. This approval and trust empowered him to minister boldly in the midst of great opposition, to remain committed to avoiding error, impurity, and deceit, and to stay focused on pleasing God rather than people. 

(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)

In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul recounted God’s powerful working among the Thessalonians in their radical conversion to Christ from idolatry and their immediate zeal for spreading the gospel throughout the region. Intense opposition followed Paul wherever he went and the Thessalonian church had already begun to experience it for themselves. And so, Paul, Silas, and Timothy wrote this letter to encourage this new community of Christians in their faith and identity in Christ. They would need to be able to withstand, persevere, and triumph in their new life of adversity and persecution.
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-4, English Standard Version)
Empowerment of the Apostle Paul and His Team

Motivation and empowerment increase when people’s work matches their values, when they possess confidence that they will be successful, when they can choose when and how they perform their work, and when they believe they can make a difference. God delegated to the Apostle Paul tasks of appropriate difficulty that related to his career as an Apostle. In his empowerment of the Apostle Paul, God delegated in a manner consistent with what is considered good delegation: (a) specifying his responsibilities clearly, (b) providing adequate authority, (c) monitoring his progress, (d) providing necessary information, support, and assistance, and (e) turning his mistakes into learning opportunities (Yukl, 2013).

God’s empowerment of Paul noted in 2:1-4 fits with psychological empowerment as a leadership theory. Paul referred to himself in 3:2 as a co-participant, sunergon, with God in the Gospel, and described the delegation of duties in 2:1-4 in various ways. God approved Paul and his team and entrusted them with the Gospel. Consequently, Paul ministered with great motivation to please God and appeal to people with the Gospel. 

The four elements of psychological empowerment are: (a) meaning, (b) self-determination, (c) self-efficacy, and (d) impact. Paul felt empowered because God changed his life and gave him a new mission (meaning), trusted him to develop his own strategies and methods (self-determination), infused him with confidence that he could be successful (self-efficacy or competence), and allowed him to witness the results of conversion and transformation of people, and the establishment of churches (impact).

Empowerment Continues for Us Today

As a public Apostolic epistle, 1 Thessalonians was meant to be read aloud to the faith community in Thessalonica and to all faith communities (5:27) for their encouragement. God’s empowerment of Paul extended to the empowerment of the Thessalonian believers, and it has continued to extend to His Church ever since and all throughout the world. From the Apostle Paul’s ministry model with the Thessalonian church Christian leaders and churches today can shape and re-shape their ministries accordingly, and by God’s Spirit and grace can expect similar results that will bring Him glory through increased effectiveness and spiritual joy. 

Christians should proclaim the gospel boldly and live out the gospel genuinely. The Apostle Paul served as an entrusted messenger, teaching Christ-followers how to live out the gospel they preach. Can Christians today likewise appeal to others to examine their lives as Christians, and ask God to do the same? Such transparency speaks volumes to the world about honesty, integrity, and authenticity. The world needs more Christians like this. This will further strengthen and empower the church as God keeps supplying a greater boldness and the grace to prove faithful as those “entrusted with the gospel” (v.4). 

Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.