Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Books Every Leader Should Read

Ruth Haley Barton
I teach leadership courses for DBU and B H Carroll at both the Masters and PhD levels. I have extended bibliographies for each course, but if you were to ask me for one or two books on leadership you should read, I would recommend (other than my book on leadership):

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, by Ruth Haley Barton

and

Leadership on the Line, by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky.

Heifetz and Linsky
 Why these two out of all the others?

Both resonate with my personal experiences (and those of leaders I respect) of leading a freely formed group of followers around a perceived common mission toward a new goal or reality. 

Both provide practical and spiritual ways to survive the Mt. Rainier climb of leadership.

Leadership on the Line contains the wisdom of leading I wish I had known twenty years ago when I started this leadership adventure at Legacy Church. I wish someone had told me the price of leading and that leadership by its very nature creates conflict. I was trained in seminary to manage a denominational franchise store, but the authors remind us "...leadership requires disturbing people--but at a rate they can absorb." 

Knowing the difference between technical and adaptive change and how deal appropriately to the natural resistance to change would have helped me and caused less damage and pain to those I led. The adaptive changes within Legacy have become realities, but the path to their realization could have been different.

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is a case study of the life and leadership of Moses. From Barton's perspective of "sacred rhythms" she reminds leaders on mission with God that like Moses, in the end, all we have is our relationship with God, His call on our lives, and the power that flows from that relationship to offer those we lead. On calling, she encourages me,
The people will follow you because you have met me. Because you know my name deep in your being. That is what qualifies you to be a spiritual leader, and that is why people will be willing to follow you right out of the place they have known for so long to a place that is brand-new....Moses experienced the great paradox of calling: God was saying, in essence, it is all about you (because you are the one I have called) and it's not about you at all (because it was all about me and my work in and through you.) (81)
Barton's own experiences of founding and leading an organization mesh with my own, and her insights on the soul and how to nurture it as a leader, challenges and provides for me ways to remain faithful to God's call of servant leadership on my life. I return to her practices at the end of each chapter again and again.

If you don't have these books, get them. If you have them, read them again. 

What one or two books would you recommend?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing.