Leadership …………seeing things differently20 Jul

Bishop Patrick of the Orange Free State, wrote an article in the ‘Link’ which contained a reflection on the painting by Salvador Dali called Christ of St John of the Cross Like most of Dali’s inspired works it shows the crucifixion from a very different perspective. We normally view the crucifixion in a much more two dimensional way. Dali’s painting allows us to look from above, perhaps as God must have looked down on the suffering of his son. I can see and experience his pain so clearly, in the close up view of the nailed hands and in the tension of his muscles around his shoulders and back. Bishop Patrick tells us that this different perspective provides a ‘vivid contrast between the world’s way of doing things and God’s way of doing things.’ In the light of this contrast Bishop Patrick looks at the different ways that we view power and talks of the difference between the ‘love of power’ and the ‘power of love’. I couldn’t help thinking of the implications of this for leadership. Ineffective leaders love power, whereas effective leaders coach, empower and support through the power of love. Bishop Patrick has, perhaps inadvertently, picked up on the key differentiator between effective and ineffective leaders. A leadership style which loves power is focussed on the individual leader, the drive is to amass as much power and influence in one person; there is no room in this leadership style for the development of others. Whereas a leadership style which utilises the power of love focusses on the needs of others. This leadership style empowers and supports followers and continuously builds leadership capacity in organizations or in any context, for that matter. The former power based leadership is about ego and competitiveness, the latter requires humility and a servant approach. It is interesting how personal perception about the notions of power and love, can diametrically influence our effectiveness as leadership. I am grateful to Bishop Patrick for his insights, for drawing our attention to the paradox of power inherent in his message. As leaders we would do well to ponder on how we use power in our leadership situations. It is clear that we can use it destructively to further our own selfish interests, or we can use it constructively to support growth and leadership effectiveness. It is really up to us, and our own level of maturity as leaders.

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Dr. Elaine Saunders – Industrial Psychologist

Phd in Leadership Development
Author of Assessing Human Competence
Specialising in online competency-based assessment tools, leadership development and performance counselling
Based in Sandton, Johannesburg

My key areas of intervention revolve around helping individuals to achieve their potential in the work context. To this end, my consulting practice comprises of three key applications which are related. These are the application of competency-based assessment in recruitment and leadership development, counselling as it pertains to performance, wellness and the recovery from trauma, and leadership development coaching.

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