Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do leaders need to be good followers?

Mikey puts some interesting thoughts out there. He concludes:

Some people have skills in collaboration, support, anticipation, reflective listening, humility and so on that make them amazingly gifted followers. And some have temperaments that PREFER following. They are not necessarily more spiritual or godly, they just like being behind the scenes.
Some people are great at reflecting, analysing, synthesising, clarifying: they may overthink things and overcomplicated things in a way that makes them indecisive or clumsy as leaders - and yet they maybe be BETTER at explaining how great leaders do what they do.
Some people might struggle with leading things on their own, or struggle managing a small team - and yet be extraordinary at leading a team of leaders - or providing an even higher level visionary leadership. We would miss out on their unique high-level leadership skill set, if we required them to rise up through the ranks.

In a way, there's nothing controversial here. Different people have different gifts. But I find where it ends concerning.

Leaders don’t necessarily need to be good followers - except in one way. To be Christian leaders they need to be good followers of Jesus. It sounds very pious to point this out but I think it needs to be said because (as I’ve said before) some of the personality traits and practices that we value in ‘high level visionary leaders’ are contrary to the gospel. There is a ruthlessness, an drive to succeed at all costs, a lack of concern for the little people, an arrogance that is closer to narcissistic personality disorder than it is to godliness. 

The fierce imagination of some 'visionary' type leaders makes them very uncomfortable in a 2IC position or in a small church. But being an uncomfortable 2IC or small church pastor does not mean you should have your own bigger gig. Churches and christian organisations are notorious for letting s*** rise to the top.

So while I mostly agree with what Mikey's saying, caution is needed. If someone feels he is capable of greatness and the size of his current church/staff team is holding him back... I'd be asking questions. But people with NPD interview very very well, so I'd want to speak to everyone they've ever worked with.


  1. I would wonder how a suitable pastor who was not a good team player could be "a servant and a slave to all"

  2. Thanks for the link, Simone!

    1. Simone: Of course any level of leading/following cam be abused - from passive-aggressive team members , co-dependent single pastors, micro-managing leaders, to narcissistic visionary leaders.

    2. Caroline: I am not defending those who are BAD team players, but rather saying that good leaders might not be GREAT team players. There is a degree of giftedness there, not just godliness.