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Global Leadership in an age of unknowing

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07 February 2012

Talking leadership:

Extract from - Encounters Mission Journal

by Rob Hay, By Rob Hay, MA, MIOD and Principal & MA Course Leader at Redcliffe CollegeTalking leadership

Back in 2005 I wrote an article called ‘The Toxic Mission Organisation: fiction or fact?’. In it I suggested that the work in the secular world that increasingly recognised the phenomenon of toxicity in organisations had significant implications for mission organisations. Since then I have continued to study leadership and listened to many more stories from leaders across the sectors. Many mission leaders did not enter mission to be leaders, many had never had leadership experience, never received any training in leadership and certainly never felt called to be leaders. Most of them were the best in the organisation…in their field. They were the best doctor, the best teacher, the best evangelist and so they were asked by the mission to become the leader…of the area, the country, the field or even the whole organisation. They begin feeling insecure, about their own ability to lead, about the legitimacy and rightness of their leading and particularly struggle with self-worth. Because they knew they were good at being a doctor, teaching, or sharing their faith; but they don’t know that they are good at leading and in fact live with a permanent sense that they are a fraud, an imposter and rarely ever feel that they reconcile the fact that their supporters started supporting them so they could be a doctor…not a leader. Each day they spend much of it feeling they are not leaders because they don’t know what the right decision or action is at each point in the day when situations greet them and demand their attention. I am continuing to work on this area – explore leadership identity, how leaders cope with the unknown and the role of sense-making.  I republish the Toxic Mission article here because 8 years ago it was pretty much a taboo subject, but now it is being talked of more widely. However, many organisations are recognising issues for themselves but don’t always know what to do with them. It is also here because it lays the ground for many of the other articles.  Gary Sloan, Leader of OM UK shares his own personal journey into leadership…often feeling that he is learning it or at least making sense of it after he has experienced it. Chris Ducker attempts to unpack a new in-vogue term “Global Leadership” that has often felt as slippery as a bar of soap in a bath!

Alongside these we have 10 book reviews to help you get a feel of whether these books would be useful to you or not in your own leadership journey. Some you will have heard of, may have heard of, or at least have contemplated buying…others you won’t have discovered and I hope you enjoy engaging with some new material.

Talking organisations

Are you bored of change processes – fed up with the huge effort of planning, building the case for change, championing it, and then it not quite turning out as Kotter, Senge or some other Management Change Guru says it should? Do you doubt your own leadership ability? Simon Caudwell shares a new and…complex way…that might just challenge your assumptions and leave you feeling a renewed sense of hope about effecting change in your organisation.  Lynn Caudwell does the Christian sector a huge service with an exploration and evaluation of two tools to help you understand your organisation and its culture. Don’t be put off by the size of the paper – it has real examples of where these two tools have been applied to an organisation and allows you to see how they might, very practically help you and your teams understand the organisations in which you operate.

There is one common thread to the writers in this issue – they have all engaged in Redcliffe’s MA in Global Leadership in Intercultural Contexts (MAGLIC) – a flexible learning postgraduate course for leaders in real leadership roles who want to reflect on their own leadership and learn from others in similar senior leadership situations…if you want to find out more please see

For the whole article and supportive articles and books suggestions see: Encounters