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Two Rongs Do Get It Right!

The fifth essential of authentic leadership is fairness and impartiality, as opposed to favoritism and one-sidedness. Herein defines one of the major differences between a leader and manager.

Many years ago in Micronesia, while snorkeling on this beautiful, majestic coral reef off the island of RongRong, the following thoughts popped into my submerged, salt water soaked head, “We need managers in TSA, or any organization for that matter, but not at the vision-making level.”

“Managers are task oriented; leaders are goal oriented. Managers focus on the method; leaders focus on the mission. Managers are governed by the letter of the law; leaders are swayed by compassion. Managers lean right; leaders are balanced both left and right. In other words, managers tend to be one-sided.” I had to get out of the water immediately and write these thoughts down before forgetting them (No PDA’s in those days).

It is absolutely essential and critical that we begin to distinguish the difference between manager and leader—GET IT RIGHT! Too often we confuse the two, thinking that management and leadership are one and the same (they may overlap, but the differences are like night and day). For example, in the Salvation Army, the Chief of Staff, Chief Secretaries, General Secretaries (all important managerial positions) should be an end in themselves, not a means to an end.

God help us to begin discerning the difference if we want to go from Good to Great (the title of a book I recommend for promising leaders, by the way). I’ve been an officer for 50 something years and can count on one hand the number of leaders (mentors) who have held authentic sway over me (and during those times we did go from “Good to Great”).

Is it possible for one to transition from manager to leader? In some instances perhaps, with proper mentoring and role modeling critical for this transformation to occur. Take Peter, for example, beginning when his brother, Andrew, leads him to Jesus:

Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”) (John 1:42).

Sinon was still a young man when a different kind of role model teacher enters into his tightly regulated, cloistered world. With this name change, Jesus is signaling a beginning point in the shaping of a future leader. Scripturally, “Rock” symbolizes fortress, salvation, strength, refuge, permanence, security, foundation, all attributes of a strong, dynamic leader.

There are enough hints in Scripture to tell us that Peter was probably a manager type to begin with. By personality, he was tough, impulsive and controlling. He was also conditioned by the culture that spawned him and I would suspect that, during those growing up, formative, malleable years his role models were found in the highly regulated, legalistic religious community that encapsulated him.

In the next post we will consider the key transitional moment when Peter is transformed into a leader, one that is just as applicable today (we’ve got to get this RIGHT). And to think, all of this came to me out in the middle of nowhere, 7 degrees off the equator and International time line on RongRong. Who says…

Two Rongs don’t get it Right?


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