Servent Leadership: A Leader’s Relationships

A leader’s first task is not to keep the machinery moving but to help those under his charge to live and serve. Although 1 Timothy was an authoritative utterance to be implicitly obeyed, it was characterized by the graceful empowerment and loving freedom which would be expected in a letter to a friend or colleague. Paul salutes Timothy as his “own son in the faith.”1 He wanted Timothy to achieve God’s will for his life. (1 Timothy 1:18). We can see Paul’s concern for Timothy’s spiritual health (1 Timothy 4:12-16, 6:11-16), as well as his physical health (1 Timothy 5:23). “Leaders are not afraid of the strengths of their associates – that is, leaders cherish talent and facilitate synergies in relationships.”2

Leadership is an ongoing relationship between leader and superiors, colleagues, consumers, and followers. “Because the personal relationship defines the existing quality of interpersonal interaction between the leader and would-be followers, followers will not join the leader without the requisite relationship. Leadership is the relationship.”3. Leaders require many skills in managing relationships with all significant stakeholders, including superiors, peers, and external constituents. “Relationship behavior is the extent to which the leader engages in two-way or multi-way communication. It includes listening, encouraging, facilitating, providing clarification, and giving socio-emotional support.”4. The purpose of the capstone project writing service online relationship is to give each person the opportunity to grow and to contribute to his or her fullest potential and build strengths in the midst of differences.

Do leaders shape culture, or are they shaped by it? Both! The cultural subconscious of the organization sees strengths in differences. Thus, the differences that people bring to bear within the organization affect not only the organizational culture but also how leaders react to the differences. The apostle Paul was a cross-cultural missionary, a Jew who sought to be “all things to all people” in order to bring them the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Paul passes his urgency for leading various classes on to Timothy. The first classes of people mentioned are the generational differences of men and women. Paul instructed Timothy, “Rebuke not an elder, but treat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger sisters, with purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). Paul commands Timothy’s actions towards the four classes of free persons within the community. From and organizational context the approach of a leader is to be one of influential charm. “Influence at work requires that you know what you are doing, have reasonable plans, are competent at the task at hand–but that often isn’t enough. It is just the price of admission.”5.

Over time, every organization develops distinctive beliefs and patterns. Many of these are unconscious or taken for granted, reflected in myths, fairy tales, stories, rituals, ceremonies, and other symbolic forms. Managers who understand the power of organizational culture are much better equipped to understand and influence their organizations. “The greatest potential of your organization is tied directly to aligning what your people do best with what your organization needs most.”6.

Leaders also need to be able to recognize different value systems from a global context. North American culture, for example, is distinctly different from the personal relationship approach that is so important in Asia and South America. The individualistic attitudes so commonplace in Canada and the US are a stark contrast to the common goal approach found in Japan. “Leaders of companies that span different cultures need to develop a strong sense of such systems, and the many other differences that can so easily lead to the misunderstandings that can block the workings of effective organizations.”7.

Paul reminds us to consider this shift in understanding differences in 1 Timothy 5:3…”Honor widows that are widows indeed.” Paul was instructing Timothy to care for the widows who were truly left alone and destitute. Widows were particularly vulnerable in ancient societies because no pensions, government assistance, or life insurance was available. In the eschatological sense, Paul is instructing the contemporary leader to care for his followers. Many western organizations are establishing factories in third-world countries in order to capitalize on cheap labor. Similarly, many in western society are taking advantage of immigrants and foreign nationals who are unaware of labor laws such as minimum wage and worker’s compensation. Leaders will have to find ways to lead the multiple stakeholders, and the complexities they represent, at a global level. This difficult juggling act requires clear values and ingrained ethical standards. In Redefining Diversity, Roosevelt Thomas viewed diversity as shifting from being an “understanding differences” vehicle for minimizing tension to a “strategic force contributing to globalization.”8. Paul’s concept of “honor” is the key to the effective leadership of diverse people in a global workplace. It establishes and maintains quality relationships, it creates conditions that foster self-realization, and it fosters a climate where people can be genuine and valued for who they are.

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