But one that is often overlooked or even disregarded is, I believe, the power of friendship in leadership. It is RARE but yet extremely POWERFUL.
The challenge is to understand that you can combine the two. I either meet people who have great friendship capacities but think they are not cut out for leadership. They do not realise that they already lead others in some way (like being a parent, leading colleagues or younger siblings, if you work as a teacher, or teach a Sundayschool class...). Others are convinced especially in a secular buisness environment that the two are incompatible (as they never tried it out or had a bad experience with it).
is the capacity to translate vision into reality (Warren Bennis)
I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum. (Bishop Desmond Tutu) (http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadqot.html)
I can pick out two important realities in the above mentioned definitions:
Leadership is INFLUENCE and it is INEVITABLE (it needs to happen)
Is a form of INTERPERSONAL relationship generally considered to be closer than association.
While other might think that it is unwise or even impossible to establish strong friendships within the people you lead, I think differently. Below I briefly want to mention some qualities that can be found in sincere friendship relationships.
Five Qualities of friendship:
Wouldn’t you be willing to give up everything in order to help a close friend? True
friendship nurtures selflessness, which is the tendency to DESIRE what is BEST for the
- Sympathy and Empathy:
Means to CARE for the ISSUES, RESTRICTIONS and CONFLICTS others are going
through. In others words, it is putting yourself in other peoples shoes.
Refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as
integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honesty).
In other words it means to SPEAK the TRUTH in LOVE especially in difficult situations.
- Mutual understanding and compassion:
Is understood as a cornerstone of greater social INTERCONNECTION and humanism
Means to BELIEVE in the other person (even though you know that you might
disappoint each other).
In my ministry I work close together with other volunteer youth-workers to help local churches to strengthen their work within their communities. While we started of as colleagues we continue to get to know each other better and better, with each meeting or event friendships between individuals are developed, nurtured and deepend. I realised how much we can benefit from each other, as we share personal experiences and how importance friendship becomes while we work together.
As every coin has two sides, so does friendship. In order to be able to invest in real friendships in people you lead and as you are lead by others, you need to be aware of some possible perils.
Three challenges in friendship:
- Willingness to make yourself VULNERABLE.
This can be a very difficult decision you need to make for yourself. A good friend will
eventually know both sides of your personality. He/ she will know you strengths and
weaknesses, likes and dislikes, good and bad.
- Disappointment hurts much DEEPER, it becomes PERSONAL.
As your colleague becomes your friend he/she will eventually disappoint you (or vice
versa). This can become a personal struggle between the two of you (and can leave deep scars) if
you are not aware of that reality.
- FEAR that the other person is MISUSING the friendship for their personal benefit.
As you work together with a friend one (you or the other person) might take the friendship
for granted, even to the extend to expect special treatment because of the friendship (like
I used to have a colleague who was my friend and he as well volunteered for the soccer-ministry programme I am heading up. He had great knowledge regarding coaching, but unfortunately treated the children we trained badly. We had a good friendship and I challenged him several times to change his attitude towards the children (which he promised he would). But unfortunately it only got worse, and I found myself in a conflict. I had to confront my friend to make a clear decision, either he’d change or he had to leave - to my surprise he chose the latter. While I am sad that our friendship was lost I still know that it was the right decision.
A Biblical example:
While you can find many friendship – leadership examples in the Bible like Jonathan and David, Moses and Joshua, Paul and Timothy… There is one significant friendship I want to look at:
JESUS and PETER
- Jesus chose 12 disciples, he was their leader and friend. He had a closer friendship with
Peter, James and John. Of Him (Jesus) it was written: “Having loved his own which were in the
world, he loved them until the end” (John 13:1).
- Jesus lead very specific (intentional) - Leadership stages:
Classroom - Jesus gave his disciples information. He taught them his ways through different
teachings, stories and the “Sermon on the Mount”. (Mt. 5-7)
Observation - This happened as his disciples walked with Jesus and observed him. They
were close enough to Jesus to go beyond just information as they were able to see the
person. We need to be role models as leaders. (Mt. 8:23; Mk. 2:23)
Individual - Jesus focused especially on twelve rather then reaching the mass. Personal
contact and individual time is necessary in developing others. (Mt. 11:1)
Crisis - Growth usually happens the most in crisis situations. Whether it was a boat in a
storm (Mk. 4:36-41) or feeding the 5000 (Lk. 9:11-17) the disciples grew in their
understanding of leadership through each experience. Therefore stay with your young people
in the crisis.
On the job - Jesus sent his disciples out to experience ministry first hand. He sent them out
for on-hand experience and then briefed with them afterwards. (Mt. 10)
(AB Bruce 1979. Training of the Twelve. Kregel Publications)
- Rollercoaster ride - Jesus friendship with Peter had its up’s and down’s. Here are some
* He call’s Peter the “Rock” whom He wants to build His church on. (Mt 16:17-20 )
* In the next incident He rebukes him with the hash words: “Behind me Satan!”
* ONLY Peter trust’s Jesus (with his life) to step out of the boat and walk on water!
* Jesus warns Peter that he will deny Him – his friend and leader (Lk 22:31-34)
* He forgives Peter and restores him into leadership (Jn 21:15-23)
So, now it is up to you personally! Ask yourself:
+ Do you believe that there is a space for genuine friendship with people you lead?
+ Are you interested in befriending your boss?
+ How can friendship within leadership enhance the capacity of an organization or ministry?
+ What parameters might need to be put in place to keep the challenges regarding
friendships to a minimum?