Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host

What kinds of Kingdom problems are you solving?

There a many types of problems to solve. Simple problems are generally ones that we know how to fix. Complicated problems are those that require research and expertise, but have a knowable solution.

Complex problems have many moving parts, no one right solution, and conditions that change rapidly. Examples of these kinds of challenges include justice issues such as refugee, immigrant, and slavery issues. Evangelizing unreached people groups also falls in this category.

Networks, leadership and complex problems

Networks are designed to work in complex, fast changing environments. With less structure, a highly connected web of relationships and communication, and access to more expertise, information, and resources, networks can be more responsive and adaptive than any one organization.

This is why collaborative organizations or multi-organization networks require a very different approach to leadership. The traditional “Leader-as-Hero” approach asks us to look to one person or one organization for the answers and solutions.

Networks, however, are designed to draw on the knowledge and insights of many organizations and people. This — not surprisingly — requires a more facilitative, boundary-crossing style of leadership.

What is your leadership metaphor?

In this five page article, author Margaret Wheatley, a renowned writer on complex systems, social change, and leadership, proposes that we need a shift in our leadership metaphors and thinking about leadership. Her proposal is that our current leader-as-hero metaphor needs to shift to a leader-as-host metaphor. In the network world, we call this kind of leader a “Network Facilitator“.

Who will benefit from this article?

This is an excellent article for ministry or organization leaders who are trying to understand what a more collaborative and facilitative style of leadership might look like.

For new network leaders struggling to make to make the shift from organizational to network and facilitative styles of leadership, this article will provide a useful way of thinking about the network leader’s role.

Experienced network leaders may find the article helps you define and explain your role as a facilitative leader within the network by providing language and a metaphor for the work you do.

Download the Article

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