Leadership and consensus

i’ve been reading a lot on leadership, lately… philosophies and styles and approaches to navigating through organizational structure and decision-making.

there seems to be a growing consensus among the movers and shakers of modern church leadership trend-setting towards a shared poo-pooing of…consensus.

the thinking goes something like this:  if god is the one who truly anoints leaders and calls them to pastor and lead…and god is the one who is imparting the vision…and god is the one who is inspiring,  motivating,  empowering,  and leading… then we (the leader) can’t afford to get bogged down with the pettiness of what people think.

and we are really only to be concerned with what god thinks…and what he is apparently communicating to us leaders, as god’s anointed top dogs.

really?  i’m not buying.

consensus is biblical.   you know that unity-be of one mind thing?   it seems to exist pretty close to the heart of god.   we live in a church world that is more influenced by the american understanding of democracy than the biblical concept of the lordship of christ. that discussion will be better left for another day.   i’m not testy enough today to do it justice…

so here are two practical reasons why i am committed to consensus leadership:

first,  i believe consensus can lead to much higher quality in the decision.   if a leader is absolutely convinced of an idea,  a LACK of consensus gives the leader time to build a strong case…to spend the necessary time to gather information,  see all sides of the issue,  gain perspective,  and build a strong and understandable  foundation for the vision.

along the way,  patience can be developed and a depth of humility will be cultivated…so not only does the idea get some seasoning,  but the leader does as well.

second,  because consensus is usually a much slower process,  it forces relationship building.   opposition builds accountability.   it’s through the process of consensus-making that people are forced to deal with different ideas…different temperaments…different values…and where the essential “team” pillars of trust and healthy communication can be forged.

my opinion?   leadership without consensus is always inferior.   unless you’re on a rapidly sinking ship.

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2 thoughts on “Leadership and consensus

  1. Jesus was the greatest leader the world has ever known. While He had the answers and He had the power He still involved others in His plan. He didn’t do it because He needed them. Not by a long shot. He did it because for others to believe and buy into a plan or direction they must feel connected. If you don’t have ownership in it then you don’t care about it. If I can rely on others to do my “church” for me then why do they need me? I could simply show up on Sunday and enjoy all the cool stuff Rector Mike comes up with. “Church” and “Leadership” without involvement from others is simply going to a show. I don’t need a show. I have a TV at home. I need something I can connect with on a much larger stage than Sunday mornings or Christmas plays.

  2. Wow, I am involved in corporate leadership development, and as an Elder in our church I have to agree with you on a number of points. Today’s leaders must must must have a unique partnership with their people. They cannot lead solely based on positional or pastorial “power”. As a leader or leader in training, they have the incredible opportunity to bring out the best in people. To do this they must draw out the best in Themselves.

    Effective pastors/leaders play the most important part in the success of their church. As a leader you discern the right course for your church, set the pace for your church, influence others to follow, and inspire them to excellence and success. Many of our church pastors need to “not be along for the ride” but get out of the back seat, and get behind the wheel.

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