Wilberforce: Agent of Change

“It is not revolutions and upheavals that clear the road to new and better days but… someone’s soul, inspired and ablaze” (Pasternak in Holladay, 1999). Such inspired leaders are rare, but memorable in the annals of history. Komives (2016) introduces the concept of a ‘change agent’ who “serves as a catalyst for a group, stirring people up [for] positive change” (p. 398). These leaders either create or inherit a change potential and have the ability and power to lead that change effectively. The internal motivation of someone who is ‘inspired and ablaze’ with passion can affect change in the most stubborn of situations.

“It is not revolutions and upheavals that clear the road to new and better days but… someone’s soul, inspired and ablaze.”

William Wilberforce is a wonderful example of a truly inspired soul, determined to complete the tasks he saw laid out for him by God. We are all familiar with his crucial role in leading the charge toward the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, but few of us really know his whole story and what depth of character he exhibited in every area of his life. As was oft repeated in class, the ability to create real change has the prerequisite of first changing and developing one’s self. Continue reading “Wilberforce: Agent of Change”

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Here’s the Rub

Here’s the rub… the more we have, the more we seem to need. People express a continuum of needs from drinking water on one hand to a Maserati on the other. Who is to say when on the continuum these needs become illegitimate? “Needs are social,” claims Burns (2007). “The conflict over their legitimacy, their meaning, their extent, their satisfaction, take political form” (Burns, 2007). We see this in the world whenever one person or group of people dictate the level of another person or group’s need satisfaction (church charity, government aid, etc.).

In my reading this week, Burns (2007) compares Rousseau and Marx’s philosophies on wants and needs, although he admits that even they hesitate to draw the line where wants should become socially-recognized needs. The chapter’s discussion did lead to a revelation about the nature of leadership. Burns (2007) says, “leadership has its origins in the responsiveness of leaders to followers’ wants, and in followers’ responsiveness to leaders’ articulation of needs, empowering both leaders and followers in the struggle for change.” In a way, we have a “chicken-and-the-egg” scenario between leadership and man’s needs.

Keller (2010) explores the idea of generosity by acknowledging the several commands of God to give. When we give, we are releasing our ‘needs’ in preference to others’ needs. For example, when we give someone our forgiveness and mercy, we are giving up our claim on revenge and justice.

In my field of work, I might find myself in a position to distribute corporate money in either the form of wages or charity. If I do, I will be evaluating peoples’ needs and, especially in the case of charity, defining the difference between someone else’s wants and needs. When I am in positions of leadership, I will also have to prioritize the needs and wants of those I lead.


References

  1. Burns, James MacGregor (2007-12-01). Transforming Leadership. Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  2. Keller, Timothy (2010-11-02). Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

As Iron Sharpens Iron

During the latter half of the 18th century, while the American colonies were vying for independence from the crown, England was also working on their governmental structure. Specifically, the virtues of a two-party system. England was wary at first of any sort of opposition to the status-quo, desiring stability over the right to oppose. Then Lord Bolingbroke and Edmond Burke came onto the scene and touted the benefits of opposing parties. Eventually, the political atmosphere reached a climax that allowed the parties to exist. (Burns, 2007)

When considering how to relate this tidbit from history to my major area of study (accounting), I thought of the connection between governmental and managerial leadership changes. In business as well as in politics, the ideas in power naturally don’t want to be challenged. This could be a company policy that some of the leadership views as unjust, or maybe a questionable business deal that isn’t being questioned. The right to oppose the status quo is essential to improving said status. It takes a leader willing to stick their neck out and challenge the institutional leadership in order to make a change for the better.

The Bible encourages challenge on a personal level when it teaches that “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). When driven by moral values and elevated principles, friendly opposition between peers will refine each to be the best that they can be (Burns, 2007).

In leadership roles, it is wise to question the norms. Good policies will only be purified from the interrogation while bad policies will be ‘perplexed’ (Burns, 2007, p. 124).


References

Burns, James MacGregor (2007-12-01). Transforming Leadership (p. 125). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Virtuous Leadership

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that once a person is in a committed leadership position, the idea of transferring that power to an adversary, let alone a faithful disciple, is not pleasant. Yet we witness such peaceful transferences of power in America at every level of government. For centuries with rare exceptions, rulers have chosen to die before giving up power. What makes America so different?

It started with the example of a virtuous leader—George Washington. He had every opportunity to take advantage of this new republic and become its king. They offered the chance on a silver platter! Yet he refused on principle and it has influenced America’s leaders every generation since.

Washington acknowledged Continue reading “Virtuous Leadership”

What History Teaches Us

This week’s reading discussed Queen Elizabeth as a historical example of leadership. The question that Burns (2003) posed was “Was she more the maker of history or a product of it” (p. 39)? He cited the circumstances surrounding her reign, such as religious divisions, mistrust in a female ruler, and incessant plots against her life, as strong influences in her style of leadership.When most monarchs might try to restore order through strict rule as her sister Mary did by promoting radical Catholicism, Elizabeth chose to focus on keeping the throne stable to offer a “still center” between whatever other issues might divide her countrymen (Burns, 2003, p. 40). “Stability was to be guarded at the expense of other values, such as liberty and justice” (Burns, 2003, p. 41).

When comparing this ideology to my business major, Continue reading “What History Teaches Us”

Your Love is All Around

Yesterday, a friend asked me, “why are you always happy?” The song lyrics, “everywhere I look, your love is all around,” came immediately to mind. I can be genuinely happy when I focus on how much I have to be grateful for.

Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of nature or the thoughtfulness of a friend and it brings a smile to my face. Sometimes, I have to search for a silver lining around an otherwise dark cloud, but the confidence that God’s love permeates every situation allows me to be genuinely joyful.

I hope that this talent God has given me will bring joy to the sorrowful and lift the spirits of the despairing. Life does dish out a lot of lemons, to some more than others, but joy is sometimes sweetest when life is sour.

Do What’s Right

“Right decisions are right – whether they are popular or not.”

dotherightthing2

Reading Awaken the Leader Within by Bill Perkins made it three times I’d heard this admonishment this week. The first time was during a discussion about integrity. Someone brought up the point that integrity often means going the way you know is right even when society or your peers all go the other way.

The second time happened while I was reading Continue reading “Do What’s Right”

Followership

While I’m often placed in leadership roles by default when no one else steps up, I resonate deeply with the idea of good followership. In most cases, I would rather have someone else ~ a good leader ~ in the official role while I do my best to be a support and an enabler.

A classic example of this followership role, and one I aspire to emulate, is the Proverbs 31 woman. In this case, the leader is the husband, who we know sits with the elders of the land and is known by people. The woman is neither idle, nor a mindless follower of her successful spouse, but rather a leader in her own right as an industrious homemaker and woman of God.

If we test her against Latour and Rast’s (2004) follower competency chart, I imagine we would find her to be a prime example of a competent leader-follower. After all, she is loyal to her family, functions well as a team-member, thinks independently, and is her own type of leader.

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Update 4/26/17:
Over the course of the leadership minor, I have developed my confidence as a leader. Today, I embrace official leadership roles and feel prepared to deal with whatever situation might arise. Previously, I could only manage a follower role because I had a tendency to over-commit. As a college senior, my time management skills and ability to set realistic expectations for myself have significantly improved.

It’s exciting to re-read my first post within the leadership minor and to realize just how much I’ve learned.

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References

  1. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.