Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches

Article excerpt

Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches. By Bernice M. Ledbetter, Robert J. Banks, and David C. Greenhalgh. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2016. xxiii + 240 pp. $23.99 (paper).

The continuous interest in leadership, argues social theorist Simon Western, is driven by two main urges: first, the need to find contemporary solutions to the changing social, political, and economic conditions; and second, the need to keep the huge leadership/management development industry afloat. The challenge, continues Western, is how often the latter urge colonizes the former, and with some regularity reduces leadership to "leaderism," which amounts to an uncritical adoption of a wish list of personal attributes and organizational solutions in service to the promise of increased financial return.

In Reviewing Leadership, the authors seek to avoid leaderism by attending instead to reviewing contemporary theories and developments in leadership studies through the lens of Christian faith and practice. In eight informative chapters, the reader is introduced to a host of concepts and models, individual exemplars of particular aspects of leading, and a "faith-based" evaluation of current leadership trends. As a work of evaluation, Reviewing Leadership is primarily concerned with the theoretical basis of leading. As a way to organize their summary, the authors focus on questions related to the purpose of leadership, developments of leadership styles, and the moral and spiritual dimension of leading well.

Throughout the book, special distinction is given to the actions of St. Paul, the character of Jesus, and the acumen of Max De Pree, whose own writing and experience as a Christian and corporate executive features prominently. Woven into discussions on ethical norms, power relations, and practice-process models of leading, the authors stress how spiritual values, learned primarily from scripture, are integral to "deeply rooted and highly focused leadership" (p. 62). "Leaders must learn to live out as well as to live by faith," the authors note, "to keep as well as have faith, and to be faith/u? as well as to he full of faith" (p. 96). Exemplified in Jesus' faithfulness, integrity, and service, and St. …

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