Magazine article Momentum

Jesus the Level-Five Leader

Magazine article Momentum

Jesus the Level-Five Leader

Article excerpt

Catholic educators seek a model for leadership whose talents are valid not only for secular institutions but also for Catholic institutions for whom "good" and "great" have more transcendent meanings

Leadership can be considered from the perspectives suggested by two questions. Who is in CHARGE? And WHO is in charge? The first focuses on the skills of leadership - what leaders need to know or be able to do; the other focuses on the person of the leader, the attributes of temperament and personality and the human qualities leaders need to be successful.

In recent years, studies on leadership have focused on the skills. This has provided valuable research data and added significantly to our knowledge and understanding of the leadership skills needed to organize, administer and efficiently carry out the daily and long-term operations of a company or a school, or to bring about productive change within these institutions.

Valuable as these studies are, they also reveal that there are other key factors involved in moving an organization from "good" to "great" (Collins, 2001). These factors are the human qualities that distinguish the outstanding CEO- the WHO of WHO is in charge. Two new studies on leadership, one by Jim Collins and the other by Stephen Covey, especially are useful in helping us understand and profit from researchbased ideas on the personality of the CEO as a level-five leader, one "who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will" (Collins, p. 21).

Collins cites three attributes of these effective leaders: passion, a clear vision and the ability to identify and cherish good people who can accomplish the work. The effective leader must have, as Collins suggests, "The right people on the bus." In other words, the level-five leader needs passion, a plan and a people.

Covey tells us that taking initiative as leaders "requires getting your heart and your passions into it" (p. 40). Because passion "Comes from the heart and is manifest as optimism, excitement, emotional connection and determination" (p. 75), it is clearly an attribute that must come from deep within the person. We have recognized for a long time the importance of energy and focus in leaders we admire. We seem to know instinctively that they get up in the morning thinking about their work and looking forward to it.

Jesus as a Model

As Catholic education leaders, we also seek a model for leadership whose talents are valid not only for secular institutions that seek to move from good to great, but also for our Catholic institutions for whom "good" and "great" have more transcendent meanings. I suggest that Jesus is our best model and our ideal level-five leader. He demonstrated passion, vision and a plan, and he recruited, and continues to recruit, the right people for the work.

He was clear about his passion for his mission and goals: to be about his Father's business; to be the way, the light and the truth; to lead people to seek a kingdom not of this world. The central message is clear and simple: Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus set out a program for accomplishing the goals. To carry out this plan he communicated his vision of love, hope and redemption in ways familiar to good teachers: He used direct instruction, parable, dialogue and discovery, and he taught by example. He let the program unfold in a natural, sequenced way.

As a leader, he knew how to prioritize: Seek first the kingdom of God and all else will follow. …

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