The Question Matters

Dave McCleary on Leadership Transition: Radical Relationship

Posted in Change,Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on May 3, 2010
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One thing I appreciate from my limited interactions with Dave McCleary is this: his perspective of leadership is theologically informed.  By definition, theological thinking is relational thinking.  In my faith tradition, that relationship begins with the mystery of the Trinity–that God is both Three and One.  The relationship among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is so seamless, so perfect, that each one embodies the best of each other, even while maintaining their distinctness.

Why the theology lesson?  There are leadership lessons here.  Lesson #1–leadership does not exist in a vacuum.  It is, by necessity, relational.  I think that speaks for itself.  Lesson #2–leadership shared among equals exponentially increases its influence and its power to effect change.  Think of the parent trying to lead a family without the support of the other spouse vs. the family raised with two parents who share leadership and support one another.  The children know when one speaks, both have spoken.  The children grow up knowing that their parents have such a strong mutually submissive relationship.

As foreign as mutually submissive may sound to leadership, it is invaluable.  This is, in Dave McCleary’s estimation, especially true in the midst of leadership transition.  The Gen X cynic may say, “There’s no such thing as a mutually submissive relationship.  I’ve never seen it.”  A certain kind of leader may say, “There is nothing mutual about leadership.  It’s about who’s in charge.”  Leaving Prisons suggests that both statements reflect a prison that must be escaped in order for leadership to emerge.

The fundamental truth, no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem, is this: leadership cannot exist without mutual submission.  That’s no easy concept, which is why Dave has this to say:

We must “[u]nderstand the meaning of a relationship – the book The Shack defined relationship as “mutually submissive” (like the Trinity) – exploring this, developing this, building this is key.”

Without mutual submission, leadership transition is merely a passing of power, a shift of direction, a change of title.   It goes without saying that a generation as young and as idealistic as Gen Y will be largely uninterested in such a change of leadership.

Later this week–why coaching is a crucial component of leadership transition.


One Response to 'Dave McCleary on Leadership Transition: Radical Relationship'

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  1. […] Recently, Forbes magazine published an article Dave wrote about the transition in leadership from Boomers to Gen X/Gen Y.  In this series, I’ve reflected on David’s thoughts about transitioning leadership from one generation to the next, and the challenges associated with doing so.  There must be no doubt on who that next leader will be.  The power inherent in leadership must be shared.  That example is set through the sharing of power with the successor.  Finally, the leader must go beyond simply sharing power to modeling mutual submission with his/her successor. […]

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