Thursday, September 20, 2012



A fellow believer and Regent University alumnus, I also count Courtney McBath among the best orators whom I have ever heard. He has typically presented information in ways wherein I have felt like 15 or 20 minutes had passed, when an hour or more had actually gone by. Bishop McBath shared a tweet today, with which I agreed. However, as those who tweet have sometimes complained, "it just didn't seem to go far enough." In his tweet, he said, "the oxymoron of leadership is that you are often forced to depend on people that you can't depend on." After reflecting on this, I responded, "I know many more followers than I do leaders who suffer through that oxymoron."

Arguably, few people "in the know" would argue with the Bishop's conclusion. Regardless of whether referring to leaders by position, role, or behaviors; it seems that people who "go before and show the way" sometimes interact with followers who, for whatever reasons, fail to live up to their responsibilities. In fact, some of those followers even fail to initially (or ever) acknowledge, as their responsibilities, the requirements asked of them. Maybe they lack shared visions, compelling (self-) interests, authority or other organizational or societal entitlements, or the resources necessary to accomplish the tasks at hand. Maybe they lack the clarity needed to succeed, regarding the applicable organizational structures, goals, and missions. Whatever the reasons, however, many leaders have had to overcome the lack of participation of undependable followers, simply by doing "it" themselves or by trusting others to do the required deeds. In that regard, I have known many dependable followers who have accomplished their own work and then taken the responsibilities for and accomplished the work of their undependable colleagues, as well; especially in organizations that have proven successful over the long run.

On the other hand, regardless of position or role -- or the lack thereof, those who accept the mantel of leadership take on the responsibilities associated with going before and showing the way, by definition. People who lead, place themselves in positions wherein they must provide directions (like it or not, to show the way means to provide directions), even when they might not actually know their present positions; much less how to navigate to desired locations or outcomes. The very nature of leadership requires its use when: (a) no validated, standardized procedures already exist; (b) someone needs to choose the situationally correct proceedure(s) to follow; and (c) the existing procedures no longer meet the required levels of efficiency and effectiveness to meet the needs of the stakeholders. Conversely, when validated, standardized procedures (knowingly) exist, no need for leadership exists. Oh, some followers or peers might need training, diplomacy, marketing, or some other form of influence to overcome lacks of knowledge or motivation. However, once the selection and implementation of the correct procedures occur, the appropriate form of directing immediately and automatically shifts to management (or some other form of directing that few people enjoy discussing in public conversations). Therein lie the cruxes of undependable leadership. Of course, leaders may suffer from the same ailments as followers, in that they can also lack shared vision, authority, resources, etc. However, the fatal flaw has most appeared to present when they have either failed to appreciate the scope and dynamics associated  with their leadership responsibilities or they've applied leadership when some other form of directing (or no form of directing) presented as more appropriate. Either set of shortcomings has arguably rendered leaders undependable.

Please check a short biography of Bishop B. Courtney McBath on the website at this link: http://bit.ly/OLolHg

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