Barna, George; A Fish Out Of Water. 9 Strategies to Maximize Your God-Given Leadership. Integrity Pub. Brentwood, TN. 2002 pp.204. price 19.95. Available at Leadership Centre. 1-800-804-0777.
As Christians our impact or lack of impact on our culture is crucial. We are salt. How effective are we? The most consequential leadership doesn’t necessarily come from the most visible leaders. The outcomes of effective leadership are identifiable and measureable. "Leadership effectiveness hinges on who you are rather than what you can do."p.xxx. It is important in leadership to lead within the limits of who you are. Limits are not so much boundaries as they are guidelines.
Ch. 1 Somebody Has To Be The Big Fish.
Knowing about leadership and being in a position of leadership does not make you a leader. It is helpful to know what it is not. Leadership involves vision. Vision requires resources. "Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right," Warren Bennis. Three questions are posed that will provide insight on how leadership is understood. As a leader you need to continually work on change with the help of others.
Ch. 2. Everybody is a Leader, Sort Of.
There are "habitual leaders and situational leaders"p.21. Habitual leaders are leaders by nature. Situational leaders are leaders because they are in a situation where they have to lead. Both can be effective and successful. "Just one out of every eight individuals has been created for and called by God to habitual leadership."p.24. It is important that you know what kind of leader you are. You need to know your gifts. Find out what others think. "Leaders know leaders."p.26. Situational leaders provide leadership for localized and individual needs. It still requires the basic elements of leadership.
Ch. 3. Leadership is a Team Sport.
There are actually four types of leaders each representing a different leadership aptitude. These aptitudes have to do with "directing, strategizing, team-building, and operating."pp.43-50. Each of these aptitudes is discussed. A dream team would be a mix of all four aptitudes in balance. When leaders go beyond their aptitude ‘domain’ problems will arise and increase.
Ch. 4. What’s Your Point?
It is very important to understand the difference between mission and vision. In this chapter the topic of vision is presented. We have to know that it matters. How is vision defined? Solomon declared that "where there is no vision the people perish". Prov. 29:18. There is a direct correlation between church size and clearly understood and stated vision for a church. The author identifies four "vision-related obstacles to leadership. 1. The absence of God’s vision. 2. The operative vision not being God’s vision. 3. The foundational vision not being a shared vision. 4. The vision being peripheral to the development of the enterprise."p.72. It is crucial to know the difference between mission and vision. "Vision is the tangible development and strategic pursuit of the mission."p.74. Vision brings focus, it is distinct, it comes from God.
Ch.5. It’s What’s Inside That Matters.
Character is key in leadership. Character attributes are discussed under the topics, spiritual maturity, relationships, family life, integrity, and demeanor. Most people expect higher standards of leaders than they do of themselves. A number of suggestions are made to help develop a solid character.
Ch. 6. If You Want Good Followers, Create Them.
Culture is an important part of the ‘how to’ of leadership and its impact on the future. Much can be learned from other organizations’ culture but leadership has to adapt to the culture it finds itself in. The goal for a leader is to build a culture that affirms and empowers the people that are being led. Team members need to know their own capacities and the cause they are commited to. Mentoring is crucial in this process
Ch. 7. Conflict, The Leader’s Secret Weapon.
Conflict is basic to change since the need for change implies either imperfection or something lacking. To have effective change it is necessary to demonstrate in an acceptable way the need for change. When conflict is strategic it has potential for positive results. Conflict is a tool. In the hands of a skillful leader it can result in good outcomes. It is one tool in the tool kit.
Ch.8. God First, Leadership Second.
"Leading without an intimate relationship with the Lord becomes toxic."p.156. Having and keeping God first in a leader’s life is paramount as that leader seeks to be a worshiper, disciple, evangelist, steward, caregiver and/or friend. In the book of Acts we are challenged by the following; worship God constantly, study God’s Word tirelessly, share our faith in Jesus Christ joyfully, utilize the resources God entrusts to us, serve anyone humbly who has needs, and develop a loving community of believers. These are doable only with God’s resources and with a growing relationship with Him.
Ch. 9. What Got You Here Won’t Get You Where You Need To Go.
Organizations go through predictable stages (phases). They are "conception, infancy, expansion, balance, stagnation, and disability"p.173. With wise leadership the last two can be avoided. It involves a "rebirthing and redirecting"p.182, of the organization during the ‘balance’ stage. i.e. curve jumping. Each stage has its unique challenges of leadership.
Epilogue. Obedience, Not Success.
Servantleadership is where it is at. e.g. Jesus. Obedience to God is the key to this kind of leadership. We give God more glory by who we are than by what we do. "Your leadership matters to God because you matter to God."p.192.
The content of this book is the result of decades of research. It should be a resource in any library of leadership books. I was taken with the insight of describing leaders as habitual and/or situational. A very helpful distinction for many who might question the legitimacy of their leadership. A great book from a researcher who has national credibility in religious and secular organizations.