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Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Book Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 397

Book Review

In this section of Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge, John C. Maxwell (2004) gives the reader four principles to follow in leadership: “1. Work on yourself before you work on others. 2. Work on yourself more than you work on others. 3. It is easier to teach what is right than do what is right. 4. People do what they see. 5. The examples of others profoundly impact our lives.” (p. 42) The common thread linking these five points together can arguably summarized as follows: Maxwell posits a synthesis of the familiar notion of “leading by example” with a self-reflective moment that requires the prospective leader to think about what kind of example he or she is setting. In other words, Maxwell makes the important point that leading by example is not enough: one has to introspectively reflect upon the reasons why one does what one does. Only then can the leadership by example strategy be deemed authentic: not only from the perspective of those following the example, but also from the perspective of the leader setting the example.

The need for such introspection is clear from scripture. Isaiah 47 talks about the Fall of Babylon. The corruption of Babylon is tied directly to a failure of leadership to be introspective about their existential choices, thus leading to a populace that follows the entirely negative example of the rulers. The Lord thus states, addressing the queen of the Babylonians: “You said, ‘I am forever – the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.” (Isaiah 47:7) Clearly, the assertion of authority is not enough; it is an empty gesture without some reflection upon what such authority truly means and what content is expressed through one’s leadership.

To develop a leader is therefore firstly to know the values for which one stands for. Personally, leadership cannot be asserted without this reflection: true leadership, in this sense, is a consequence of having justified values. The leadership role in this regard is passive: one acts according to these justified Christian values and the effect is almost contagious – one leads not because of an individual choice, but because the eternal truth of these values impress themselves upon others, compelling them to follow a similar path.

References

Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (eds.) (2004). Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge.

San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

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