Scott Hodge


What Every Good Leader Knows

Jun 16, 2010

Been reading Richard Rohr's latest book, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See. It's truly been one of the most soul-refreshing books I've read in a while. 

Rohr offers some great leadership reminders in chapter 21: "What Every Good Leader Knows".  There are too many for me to share, but here are a few that I've really resonated with. 

Good leaders are:

  • Seers of alternatives.
  • Move forward by influencing events and inspiring people more than by ordering or demanding.
  • Learn to study, discern, and search together with their people for solutions.
  • Know that total dilemmas are very few.  We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, overidentified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the other opinion might be offering. 
  • Search for the middle ground where the most people can find meaning; they work for win/win situations. (This is hard to do if you assume you are the higher, the more responsible, the in-charge, the senior, the more competent – or once you have made a harsh judgment about the other.)
  • Know that the rule of law and obedience can inform you only about what is illegal or immoral; it cannot itself lead you to God, truth, goodness, or beauty. (Romans 3:20 and 7:7)
  • Know that when done well, compromise and consensus-seeking is not a way of abdicating essential values, but very often a way of seeking – and finding – other values, especially community-building, along with giving more people a personal investment in the outcome.
  • Know that wisdom is "the art of the possible."  The key question is no longer "How can I problem-solve now, and get this off my plate?"  It is "How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for the next generations?"
  • Increase both freedom and ownership among the group – not just subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
  • Let people know the why of a decision, and show how that is consistent with the group's values.

Some great thoughts & reminders. 

Leaders – which ones resonate with you the most?

2 Responses to “What Every Good Leader Knows”

  1. Scott.
    Glad you posted this. Rohr is a great thinker. All points resonate with me, but two seem rise to the top:
    1)Learn to study, discern, and search together with their people for solutions.
    I think with the resurgence of missional thinking, church leadership has once again been placed in the pioneering phase. This is a good thing. Tends to make us all learners again. How we process that journey with our people is key.
    2) Let people know the why of a decision, and show how that is consistent with the group’s values.
    This is critical for a leader in a day where positional authority is fading and moral authority is so easily lost. Communicating the why – not just the what – is a much necessary (and often neglected) part of gaining and maintaining moral authority with both staff and lay leaders.
    Good stuff. thanks again.

  2. Scott, thanks for sharing this. I’ve never heard of Richard Rohr, but it sounds like a great book to add to my always growing must read list.

    @brandon I personally agree and would take the why concept a step further, not only with decision making but begin with the why of a tribe/church/organization’s very existence. If the decision can’t be tied back to the why of the existence, it might not be in alignment with your core values and/or mission.

    As beneficent as the why (or its eventual outcome) may be, once the why vision fades from memory, the rest of the optimal leader outcomes may happen successfully, at least in the short term, but they will inevitably result in failure or at best mission creep and mediocrity.

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