Marks of Spiritual Leadership

Following the July 23 Blog I wrote describing how the claim “Differences in Leadership Style” often mask unspoken and unhealthy expectations about the leader, here are healthy Marks of Spiritual Leadership that are common to all styles.  An agile leader recognizes what leadership style is needed in a particular context and knows how to move among all the marks of spiritual leadership to enhance the relationship with the organization and individuals within.

First, naming the Leadership Styles.  Depending on the source, I have noted as few as 3 and as many as 10 leadership styles.  I have chosen the following 5 because they are  describe the most common leadership experiences of spiritual leaders and of congregations.  They are:

  • Laisez-Faire
  • Autocratic
  • Participative
  • Transactional
  • Transformational

Within these 5 styles, there are Marks of Spiritual Leadership. In a healthy individual leader, team, committee, or governing body participants will intentionally use a balance of styles and within those styles use all the Marks of Spiritual Leadership.  In other words, the leader will choose among the leadership styles to most effectively benefit the organization in this particular moment and while using this appropriately chosen leadership style she will also consistency show these following Marks of Spiritual Leadership:

  • Trust
    • Transparency
    • Consistency
  • Pastoral Identity
    • Self awareness
    • Theological Foundation and Formation
    • Organizational/Congregational Understanding
    • Adaptive Learning

These lists are offered for your reflection and as a tool to ask yourself the question “Where do these marks show up in the decisions, actions, and relationships that I am creating and building each day?”

An entire blog series could be written describing each leadership style and how that style  effectively and ineffectively lives in us, in our colleagues and in our congregations.  Another series could be developed about the characteristics of each of the marks and how we cultivate them.  A common question from clergy is how to achieve balance among spiritual practices, congregational life, family life, connections with colleague, friends and friendship actives both within and outside the church. One tool towards that balance would be taking your own personal inventory on these 5 marks to illustrate for yourself which marks are underused and which are overused.  Does consistency get in your way at home because the list of needs at church?  Do you drive to abbreviate the needs at church, getting it done as quickly as possible, because the needs at home right now are piling up?  These are just two questions at different ends of the spectrum that could arise as you reflect on your daily life in the context of these Marks of Spiritual Leadership. 


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