In the rapidly changing climate of leadership within organizations there is rarely a smooth transition of influence from existing leaders to emerging leaders. Instead of a baton change, what's more likely, suggests Jimmy Long, is a biatholon… or better… a jump. Can an organization make the leap?
Long speculates that emerging leadership challenges will force new leaders to change paradigms, not inherit the same course of action. Rather than receiving the tag from the former runner to race around the same course, new leaders will need permission and empowerment to tackle a new mode of challenges in a completely creative manner free from prior practices.
In his book [Long, Jimmy. The Leadership Jump: Building Partnerships Between Existing and Emerging Christian Leaders (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009)] Long passionately presents the leadership tensions facing organizations like churches that rely upon multi-generational investment. Existing leaders are caught with having control of organizations and having difficulty in giving that control over to emerging leaders for a myriad of reasons. The most glaring reasons could be that existing leaders can't find emerging leaders who are ready to accept their positional authority… and emerging leaders don't want to receive the type of leadership that existing leaders have to give. Up-and-coming generational trends are shifting from a top-down reliance upon a singular leader towards an environment of shared leadership, trust, giftings, and actival-mission. Churches need to prepare for this. What's needed is a cultural shift of typology where existing and emerging leaders partner in valuing the past and adapting for the future.
I personally resonate with the themes in The Leadership Jump.
It doesn't take long to scope my writings and my practice to realize
that the emerging modes suggested by Long are embedded into my praxis
of life. And those who know me know that I have too often struggled
with the "old way of doing things" that often dictates the methods of
ministry in churches. But those who know me also know how much I love
churches and bleed in prayer and sweat for them. I respect so many
former and existing leaders… those people who have lead me to Christ
and shaped my heart for God's mission. But I fear that a new day in our North American society has dawned and the church was caught sleeping in.
I highly recommend Long's book as an introduction to the changes that are necessary if organizations and churches are going to successful merge into new millennial structures. A new kind of leadership is in the works… and Long does well in describing what it will take. I agree with Long's principles and insights, even when I don't agree with his terminology [e.g. Long suggests that existing leadership could be titled as a "heroic" model and emerging leadership is "post-heroic." These terms aren't incorrect, but to use a title that implies that emerging leadership is not heroic is a misnomer. Obama's campaign proved otherwise… and emerging church leaders like Erwin McManus are often referred to as "heroes." Better would have been "Solo" or "Superman" over 'heroic" and "Shared" or "Justice League" (to be silly) over "post-heroic".] Here is a very useful summary of the book provided by Long table on page 42 along with my all-too-brief parenthetical explanations).
The Leader's Position
- Heroic Leader —> Post-Heroic Leader (Movement from solo to shared. Again, I don't like these titles, but I agree with Long's principle.)
- Guarded —> Community (Movement from impersonal to personal networks)
- Positional Authority —> Earned Authority (Movement title to practice)
The Leader's Role
- Task —> Community (movement from office to starbucks)
- Directing —> Empowering (movement from top-down to bottom-up)
- Destination —> Journey (movement from ends to means)
- Aspiring —> Inspiring (movement from self-pursuits to catalyst of others)
*** One final note: This book was recommended to me from my old college friend Chris Theule-VanDam, the Young Life Regional Director for Western Great Lakes. The principles laid out in Long's book at times strongly correspond with the major themes discovered in my dissertation study (e.g. collaborative culture, adaptive leadership structures, etc). I was delighted to find Long referencing Len Hjalmarson's site, a good friend and fellow doctoral cohort of mine. Also, I found Dr. Larry Perkins' review of Long's book
very insightful and offering a healthy perspective on the issues of this book. Larry is a
professor and friend whom I respect and whose Scriptural perception
humbles my own. He reads Long's book through the honest lens of an
existing leader who has instrumentally shaped hundreds of
ministry-minded people over the years.