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Archive for November, 2007

Have you ever thought, “what is leadership?”

I have. Often. My M.Ed is in Global Leadership and Administration. That program scratched an itch that I didn’t even know I had. But like a scab on a healing wound, the scratch is only intensifying.

I looked at a variety of programs: Organizational Psychology; Human and Organizational Systems; and the many varieties of Leadership (Organizational; Global; and Higher Education). The program I chose is just plain ol’ “Leadership”. I should add, quickly, that it is also the most customizable program at which I looked.

I discovered the program quite by accident. I was doing a google search on leadership and competencies. The Andrews’ program surface in the top 10. I looked over the page and realized I had met the program director. I called her daughter (who I also know through Adventist Virtual Learning Network) and asked her what she knew about the program. Anyhow, to make a long story shorter, met with a few of the faculty and was impressed, so I signed up.

I think one thing that “sold me” is that Shirley Freed, the program director, mentioned that leadership is about relationship and influence. The folder I received during our orientation week states “Leadership: A platform for service”.

When I look at any individual, I see the potential for a great leader. Admittedly, their actions sometimes bring me back to reality. But then, I too have that potential and my actions get in the way of “being” a leader and rising to my potential. Leadership starts with the self and extends outward: first to intimates and then to work and then to our communities.

Being a leader doesn’t suggest “greatness”; “power”; or “position”. Rather “being” suggest a method of living. Living as a “leader” suggests always seeking to know and understand one’s “self”; and seeking to know and understand others. “Being” a leader suggests being principled and disciplined; “being” a leader suggests being committed to truth that is bigger than personal perspective; being a leader suggests stewardship of life and everything in it.

We certainly see “leadership” styles. I see these as more “personality” traits than anything else. There is a larger reality – a larger truth: We are called to be more than simply who we are. We are called to grow and help others in their journey of growth.

Leadership as a platform for service isn’t automatically grandiose. Service is not being a “yes-man” to the wants of others. Service is committed to a bigger picture. Leadership isn’t simply about being in the service of profits; or environmental protection; or of universal health coverage. Leadership is in the service of life. This means that, people who are being leaders, wrestle with what is right or wrong; struggle with choices that are not clear cut; struggle with decisions that might not have been the best; struggle with helping others find their own calling. People who are being leaders are in the service of the big picture. If someone loses, everyone loses. People committed to being leaders seek NOT to win or defeat others.

When I think about leadership as “being” in this manner, the manner of serving humanity, in fact all of creation, there are precious few examples. Leadership in this method isn’t selfish, nor is it completely self-less. Leadership in this method considers it all. Being a leader in this way, there is a dance between love of self and love of others.

I am still thinking…

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Welcome! I will be blogging my experiences and insights as I work through my PhD program. Hopefully I will just write and not worry about the “what”. I sometimes get “stuck” thinking about all the “stuff” and miss opportunities to simply let things emerge.

This will be wonderful practice of patience and emergence.

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