Leadership of the Jesus kind
Whereas current literature tends to define leadership as a process by which individuals or groups are influenced toward a particular outcome or goal (p207), Jesus' way of leadership is principally about relationship.
Of course, relationships involve influence, but the principal focus of Jesus is not to influence his followers toward an external objective (no matter how lofty), but to love and serve them with an eye toward their empowerment, leading to the positive transformation of their lives. Jesus demonstrated this radical approach to leadership at the Last Supper, where he washed his disciple's feet (John 13:3-5), then proclaimed, "I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:27).
With this in mind, Wright defines Christian leadership in an organizational setting as follows:
[It is] a relationship between two persons engaged in a process of influence in which the leader seeks to: articulate the vision and mission of the organization for the follower; shape and reinforce the culture, values, or beliefs of the organization, as well as the character of people within the organization; contextualize the follower's contribution to the organization, showing how it fits and why is it important to the mission; provide the resources and the power to make the contribution possible; express thanks on behalf of the organization, affirming the follower's value as a member and conveying appreciation for the follower's contribution (p208).The Gospels show Jesus doing these things with those in his "organization" - his group of disciples. He imparted to them kingdom vision, he challenged and equipped them. He gave them opportunities to learn by serving. He then debriefed them, corrected them when needed, and gave them lots of feedback, including encouragement. Most importantly, he valued and deeply loved them. And they knew it, and their lives were transformed.
Wright notes that the Apostle Paul also practiced the same empowering - transforming approach toward leadership, with a view toward...
...seeing each person mature in Christ and coaching the person on how to live up to that maturity (Eph 4:1, Col 1:10). Transforming leadership is believing in the potential of a person to be more than what you see today and committing yourself to work toward the development of that person (p209).When we share with Jesus in his transformational, servant-leadership, our focus is on the follower rather than on ourselves as leader (p210). Our effort is focused on seeking the follower's transformation - seeing them move "up the maturity scale, to increase their competence and their confidence" (p211).
There are, of course, a variety of leadership styles or approaches that fit this focus. However, the choice of style is dictated not by our preference as a leader, but by the need of the follower at a particular place on their journey with Jesus. At times, a directive style will be best; at other times a consulting or coaching style is called for. In that regard, note that Jesus changed styles with his followers as they matured (or went backward!). Wright comments:
Empowering leadership accepts followers where they are but sees in them the potential to grow in maturity. It adapts leadership style in order to transform their ability to do the task, their confidence in accepting ownership of the task, and their perceptions of themselves. The goal of empowering leadership is to help every follower grow into an empowered leader who will in turn exercise this kind of leadership with each person for whom he or she is responsible (p214).Jesus is alive, and through the Spirit leading his followers on earth. He is sharing his life and love with them, and in doing so serving them in ways that help them grow. Let us with Jesus be transforming, servant-leaders.