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A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 5: Focus on Strength, Not Weakness

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 14, 2005

Steinke asserts that the major function of a leader is to help people to grow.  This isn’t altogether that different then the vision of Ephesians 4, where different sorts of leaders help equip the body of Christ so that they can minister together and grow in maturity.  When we focus on weaknesses in people, we foster anti-growth.  By telling people of their limitations, rather than their possibilites for greater health and service, we keep them from growing.  Anxious leaders tend to focus on the ways in which those around them fail.  And anxious groups tend to focus on what they don’t want rather than what they do want.  Leaders not only help cast a positive vision (though not necessarily exclusively positive), but they help folks around them to see how their gifts and strengths give them possibilities to play a part in that vision. 

By the way, while the word "leader" most easily applies to those folks who are clearly identifiable as leaders within churches, I think all of this could easily apply to anyone who is functioning in a leadership capacity. The word is fluid and flexible.

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4 Responses to “A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 5: Focus on Strength, Not Weakness”

  1. guile on November 15th, 2005 2:35 am

    the world is fluid and flexible.. indeed..

  2. Gregg on November 16th, 2005 3:03 pm

    Y’know, things could change as you continue to explore the ways that systems theory could be integrated into missional ways of thinking, but I just scrolled through a selection of your posts and the systems posts appear to have received little feedback. I know this is a comment about process rather than content, but I find that fascinating (esp. if it continues).

    What’s your hunch about why that is?

  3. Van S on November 16th, 2005 5:11 pm

    I think there are several reasons:

    1) Lack of familiarity…it requires learning new concepts.

    2) Lack of buzz…there isn’t alot of momentum behind church folk exploring systems theory. There wasn’t alot of buzz behind church folk exploring business models 20 years ago either; it took a few pioneers to recast business concepts into a function church model. I don’t think systems theory will ever be trendy, but I do think it will continue to exert a slow, non-flashy, influence over the years to come.

    3) Lack of clear application…systems theory elevates process over content, and since processes are harder to package, it makes it hard for people to “take and bake” core principles into their context. I think I just introduced a new slang for what happens when a leader takes the latest fad model and introduced it to his/her church: “take and bake.”

  4. Gregg on November 17th, 2005 12:16 pm

    …Probably a close cousin to “easy bake!”

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