Battle themes of leadership (c)

This series traces the life of Abraham, a great leader, in a series of short articles.


Socio-economic alternatives: a theocratic model founded on divine principles

The fourth way is maybe a work in progress, something that has to emerge and defend itself, but it is God’s way. Let me explain. I explored the primary socio-economic models of socialism (which has many flaws, but is still making an unavoidable comeback) and capitalism (which has its merits but is too threatening to social and environmental order). The third way was socio-capitalism, a blend of the best of both worlds. But humans are not too good at preserving order, so don’t go looking for solutions in social models.

The original Mosaic model was the first act of constitutional government or rule of law. It satisfies all the requirements of a constitutional framework. The ten commandments were foundational principles - a constitution is otherwise expressed as a ground rule, so it satisfies that principle. A constitution is also a set of principles that informs law making as the Mosaic law also did in guiding and empowering oral traditions.

Economic alternatives: Social-Capitalism, a possible compromise

I recently explored the pros and cons of socialism and capitalism and made the point that socialism is inevitable in a global society so desperately in need on standardization. We need a uniform approach to global issues, such as the environment, poverty, disease, the economy and so on. That need is growing rapidly in the present decade, because the issues are so threatening to our collective survival.

Because the issues have such a collective ring about them a collective response is almost unavoidable, which predicts a return to socialism.

Anyway, there is a third way. I am partially inclined to it too, although I will ultimate argue in favor of a theocratic model. The third way is Social-Capitalism. One of the early economic fathers, Adam Smith, argued that socialism and capitalism do not need to be antagonist.

Economic options: Capitalism may be better than socialism, but is hardly ideal

Capitalism has dominated western thinking and significantly influenced a lot of the orient. Today nations like India, Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan and Japan are thriving capitalist states and their people are better off for it. Though China still has a socialist ideology, it has shifted to a form of socio-capitalism that has seen its economy boom, doing far more for its people than Maoism ever hoped to do.

If I had to choose between socialism and capitalism, I would have to choose the former because it is more efficient and it acknowledges the dignity of the individual and teh instruments of regulation predict better governance, accountability and social responsibility.

Socialism did little for the poor, except to reduce the rich to the lowest common denominator. Thus Orwellian swine, in sharing their collective wallow, remained happy as long as no extremists tried to elevate themselves above the excrement.


Economic options: If global issues need better coordination, is socialism an option?

There are two major socio-economic themes: socialism and capitalism. Both have pros and cons, but the pros that work such models and exploit whatever advantage they can, are the root cause for most of the cons that now fill our jails.  

Socialism has faltered in recent years, but if you put yourself in the shoes of the small cluster of concerned global citizens who have the capacity and resources to influence the future of our planet, you will understand why it is on the way back. The enlightened elite are exceptionally capable and thus, by implication, surpassingly wealthy. I doubt if they even care for wealth anymore as their wealth has no relative benchmark. Rather, their identity vests in their power and the way they can use that power to shape the world.


Economic options: To survive, either we stand together or fall as individuals

Many years ago a Californian purchased London Bridge and shipped it all home, so he could preserve something of London’s history. Others, envious of the traditions and pageantry of the British monarchy, have tried to invent their own dynasties, calling themselves things like “William Gates III”. I too marvel at the richness of their traditions and the grandeur of their ancient places. But, whether we like it or not, it simply takes a long time to create something so rich. America has only had less than 250 years to build its own traditions. It has done well – its military pride, constitution and other great traditions are rich indeed, but Britain has been at it for two millennia and has long since perfected it.

That ends my introduction to a new leadership series: Economic alternatives.

The Queen can trace her line back about a thousand years, but Israel has had kings dating back four thousand years. Many of her ancient buildings still stand, having endured wars and tumults, the comings and going of empires and the rise and fall of nations. That certainly binds the nation together and as such her people will not give an inch of their hard-won legacy for a grain of cheap peace. Peace for the Jew was never about absence of war, but the presence of a God-given identity.

Exchange theory of leadership: us vs them

I recently listened to a retiring radio show host describe his years in the business. He used the opportunity to tell the untold story of internal shenanigans and even chose to name names. He was also resentful of the series of events that once catapulted him to the top of his game. His bitterness was expressed as something that would stick in his crawl for the rest of his days. Yet the move to a station recently acquired by his employer was only mismanaged, whilst his career benefited immensely.

The presenter went on to describe how the new station thrived under his influence and went to great lengths to describe how “his ideas” had boosted their ratings.

To be honest I felt nauseas as I listened to a large ego berate employers for decisions that were good for shareholders and which also gave him such a great break, but I almost gagged when he boasted of his personal achievements.


Exchange theory of leadership: all for one, one for all

We all so readily confess that Jesus is the head of the church, but in practice it is rarely so. I have found very, very few contexts that give practical expression to that idea.

A friend spoke of their church being without a leader, because Jesus is their leader. That is commendable, but potentially risky. The truth is that leadership and authority is a serious issue to God. Many of our greatest issues stem from a clash of interest between God’s position on authority and the consequential resentment of followers.

Either way we lose if we don’t get a balanced perspective on leadership. Many churches have been suppressed by self-centered leaders, whilst others have been impoverished by lack of leadership, but far too many individuals are in wilderness places because they could not connect with leadership at all.


Exchange theory of leadership: push vs pull

Contemporary leadership theory is substantially about driving. It presupposes that the energy of the leader can energize the organisation, whether that energy is nervous, vital or passionate. The bible does not support that perspective.

In Romans 8, Paul compares the leading of the flesh to the leading of the Spirit. The former refers to carnal or hedonistic pursuits, including drivers like instinct, nervous energy or the ego. Such forces do drive behavior, the way that empires were built around the impulse of great leaders. Unfortunately, whatever they built failed to stand up to another, irresistibly greater force.

Exchange theory of leadership: enable vs control

The sons of Korah comprised a praise choir, established by King David. They wrote the famous words, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”.

I got to thinking how relevant that was. Were they choosing the least of all kingdom roles? Were they demeaning themselves? Were they accepting the worst that the Kingdom of God could offer in exchange for the best that a corrupt world could offer?

Well let’s think about what it means to be a gatekeeper as that may inform our response.

A gatekeeper defends his city … should a good leader not defend kingdom values, the integrity of a kingdom culture, the authority of God’s word and the deity of Christ?


Exchange theory of leadership: authenticity for genuine followership

I am sure you have had one of those horrible moments when someone smiled at you, briefly lit up your heart and then replaced the smile with a cynical smirk. It’s worse than a smirk on its own, because our instinct is to warm to a smile so by the time the smirk comes we will have smiled back, only to then be shamed by their real motive.

Many marketers do the same thing, throwing out the welcome mat and then turning on us with all the coldness they can muster as soon as it becomes evident that we are not bankable. That is so dumb, because prospects could so easily on-refer the firm and its products, based on positive experiences. They could also have a subsequent rethink or a change of circumstances that would bring them back into the market.