Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: "Relational Leadership"

TITLE: Relational Leadership (Revised Edition): A Biblical Model for Influence and Service
AUTHOR: Walter C. Wright
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: Paternoster Publishing, 2009.

This book is a comprehensive coverage of leadership. Grounded in biblical truth. Soaked in wisdom and experience. Practical in its applications. This is one of the best books on servant leadership. The main message in the book is that leadership is relational. Wright says about leadership which he learns from the book of Jude:
  • "It is grounded in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and it finds expression in our relationships with one another." (xv)
  • “Leadership is a relationship between a leader and a follower - ideally, a relationship of shared vision, shared responsibility, and shared leadership.” (1)
  • "Leadership is for lovers of people, peacemakers, and keepers of commitment." (20)
  • “Who you are matters. What you believe and how that shapes your character does in fact make a difference to the people you lead. The relationships you build within your organizational setting deeply affect the way the organization’s mission is carried out and the daily experience of those with whom you work. People do care who you are. It makes a difference.” (2)
After making a case for the theology of servant leadership, Wright goes into how relational leadership influences vision, values, relationships, and accountability. In each of these 4 categories, Wright proposes very practical models. For vision setting, he lists out ten steps to vision setting and planning.

Visioning and planning - 10 steps (110)

  1. Who are we?
  2. What is important to us?
  3. Where in the world are we?
  4. Where do we want to be?
  5. What can we do?
  6. How should we do it?
  7. When will we do it?
  8. Who will do it?
  9. How are we doing?
  10. Is God pleased?
A relational leader also influences with values. Values that reflect character, conflict management with care, humility in addressing criticisms, and being able to understand the culture and to inculcate values in it.

A relational leader is one who influences with power to serve the people, purpose to move the organization closer to goals, and relationships to sustain a caring and intentional community. 

A relational leader influences the area of accountability as well. Wright gives precious gems on board management, leadership purposes, and strongly advocates accountability and vulnerability for servant leaders. Not to be forgotten is for the leader to remember accountability to God alone.

My Comments

At first look, this book may appear to be too heavy on pointers, models, and steps to becoming a better leader. The leadership models seem to be borrowed from leadership seminars and management courses. However, there is a difference. There is a strong biblical foundation, especially in Jude, Colossians, and Philemon. It is only when I do a second reading that I start to appreciate the easy to follow pointers. Wright seems to let experience guide his way, covering many of the nuances and challenges of real leadership in the world. For that, I think this book has gone through the baptism of experience and tested in the school of hard knocks. There are simply too many things to appreciate at any one time. This is why this book is both a reference as well as a leadership guide.

Read this book regularly to be reminded. Peruse this book as and when you need some guidance as a leader. Above all, may the lessons in the book drive us to seek out the Real Spiritual Leader: God.


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