There comes a point in any human endeavour where people and activities need to be organised. When this happens we need to decide how to organise, and what leadership model to adopt.
However, I suspect that for most of us, it is more likely that we find ourselves in situations where the model for organising and leadership are already in place.
In either case, Christians should aspire to organise and work in ways that are congruent with our beliefs, values, missiology.
My sense is that many ‘not for profit’ or ‘value-based’ organisations have been seduced by commercial management methods. There seems to be a continuing notion/story/myth that this is the professional thing to do. Research has shown that many charities, public authorities such as schools, hospital, civil service and churches have gone this way.
Yes there are things we can learn from the world of commerce. However, it is important to remember that commercial methodology is based on a particular worldview, ie, capitalism. And that any techniques or solutions thereof come imbedded with capitalistic values and assumptions, which we may or may not agree with! In my experience, many Christians:
1. are not (philosophically) motivated by capital.
2. would prefer methodologies that are ‘Apolitical’ (rather than right wing).
3. want to be less individualistic, competitive and meritorious.
An alternative model is relational practice which has at its heart a philosophical commitment to inclusivity; empowerment and ethical practice. It is based on a human developmental process informed by relational attributes such as nurturing, love, connectedness, and expressions of feelings.
This is in contrast to modernist models which are based on “rational values” associated with autonomy, scientific methodology, and independence. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to use reason, and to make our thinking rationally coherent. However, a relational orientation focuses on communal interactions rather than on rational individualism.
In the relational ‘paradigm’, leaders are participants in the communal construction of meaning, purpose and action. Rather than relying on power derived from command and control, they play a key role in sense-making; and motivating people to fruitful and coherent action/s within complex situations.
This series of blogs will explore how leadership and organising might look like as relational practice. I will share these thoughts over the coming weeks. They are meant for discussion, comments, suggestions and re-working. I am hoping that this will be a way of developing these ideas further.