GSI's journey with leadership development

Over the last four years, we have had the opportunity to support more than 40 Global South fields across the OM world in their leadership development efforts. It was a privilege to get a glimpse into the ministries across the Global South. We have been encouraged to see much-needed impetus given to OM fields, enabling some of their leaders to take on new leadership roles, even at Area and International levels, and passing on what they learnt to others in their fields.

As I reflect on my experience over the last few years and the lessons learnt, it is clear to me that Jesus' life is the pattern for leadership development. It is when his practices are followed that fruit is most evident.

1. Leadership development happens in relationships.

Recently I had the opportunity to go on a silent retreat for a few days. Upon my return, someone asked me, "How was it?". The only thing I could say was, "I think I get why going away to be alone with the Father was such a priority for Jesus". In the words of Henri Nouwen:

"Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance."

It is only through this intimate relationship with Jesus that we can lead as spiritual leaders.

In addition, healthy leaders are those who seek to do life and leadership in community. More and more leadership development programs include 'cohorts' or small groups of learning communities. Again, this communal aspect of leadership development was demonstrated in the life and ministry of Jesus with His group of disciples. The benefits of these relational communities are well documented. Many leaders yearn for deep authentic relationships that provide support and accountability.

2 .Leadership Development is a process that requires Intentionality.

Leaders are often overwhelmed with many responsibilities. The shortage of leaders mean those in leadership have to take on more and more responsibilities in order to get the job done. We need more leaders, but because of our many responsibilities, we don't have time to develop them. It is a vicious cycle.

This requires focus and the difficult but necessary ability to say no to other legitimate needs. No one has faced more needs than Jesus did. He met many needs; feeding the multitude, healing the sick, engaging with the religious leaders etc. But he intentionally invested in his disciples. Developing the leaders around him was an essential part of the mission the Father had entrusted to Him.

The ministries which have seen significant growth in the quality and quantity of leaders are those where senior leaders drive the developmental process. Much as funding and other resources are needed, leadership commitment makes a far greater difference to whether leadership development is fruitful.

3. One of the greatest concerns we have heard from Global South leaders is the retention of leaders. While many Global South people join us and are developed, it is a frustration that some leave the organisation just as they gain a greater level of leadership effectiveness. To some extent it is healthy that people move on, and OM has always been open to this, but what is unfortunate is that some leave not because they want to leave, but because of a lack of financial sustainability. Hopefully through initiatives like the GSI and others, we will be able to come up with innovative ways to address these issues and retain more of our Global South leaders.

4 .OM is a tremendously diverse movement. In our efforts to develop leaders, we must be cautious not to simply 'copy and paste' leadership development programs. As the GLOBE[1], research indicated, while there are some universal leadership characteristics needed in any leader, there are some characteristics which are culturally contingent or contextual, and we need to take this seriously. While we can and need to learn from one another, the reality is that what works in one country might not work as effectively in another.

A lot is happening behind the scenes with regards to the future of leadership development in OM. Even though GSI will no longer fund leadership development, this remains a huge priority within OM. If you would like help with leadership development, please contact I'Ching Thomas, our International Leadership Development Director, at iching.thomas@om.org.

Reinhold Titus

[1] http://www.inspireimagineinnovate.com/pdf/globesummary-by-michael-h-hoppe.pdf

Testimony

Isaac Tembo, [ leadership development training facilitator], shares the following encouraging story: "Upon finishing a leadership training program Rachel went home, got her team together and took them through a model she had learnt on Developing High Impact Teams. At the end, the excitement amongst her team members was palpable, and some of them commented, "We are glad we discussed this. It is an answer to prayer. Not all the teachers know the vision of the community schools. Now, the OM teachers and the teachers from the community can move forward together."
 

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