Following Jesus through time and space the catholic tradition brought into life many leadership models. Each time when the signs of the time requested a specific incarnation of the gospel creative people and communities stood up and forged an adapted version of christian life as their answer to the then historical needs.
Today the petrinien model is the best known and copied through governmental administrations worldwide and locally, but also through feudal like organised companies and organisations. People governed by any petrinien type organisation rely more on a defined structure then on a content or on common goals. The belonging component is ensured through a kind of creed or constitution opening large spaces for personal interpretation and implementation. A democratic state guarantees personal freedom and inner dissent. Pluralism was the logical result and brought many flourishing systems into existence. This model worked fine for many decades, but seems coming to an end in our global world and in our common home.
If we look at the very first model when the church was growing as community of communities another model comes to our mind. I call it for the sake of simplicity the paulinien model. Saint Paul had that wonderful vision of the Church being multi-faced and colourful communities with many charisms. He captured his vision for us in the great image of the human body as an interdependent and interconnected “tensegrity” living being. In that approach leadership comes from all “ends” and it doesn’t sit in the head or in the heart of that body. A living being (and organisations are living organisms as well) needs all it’s parts to advance and evolve in time. Leadership sometimes comes from the eye and another time from the foot. To keep it balanced all parts must cooperate. Celeste was rightly pointing to “self-awareness” and a corporate “conscience” in order to avoid “teleo-pathy”. If the foot and the eye are involved in conflicting aims the whole body will tremble and lose control. Leadership is a matter for a meaningful and corporate culture where everyone leads at his “end” and where the centre for decision making (may it be the heart or the brain) is well connected to all its parts. Pope Francis used very eloquently this model of leadership during the Synode of the Family.
Management and governance do need this type of leadership to save human persons from becoming simple elements in systems which are going to replace the failing and weak ones efficiently under the pressure of finances and so-called formal quality requirements. Young people reminded us that they do not trust such institutions, because those institutions are not loyal to people. Pope Francis in Evangelii gaudium urges world leaders in the same spirit and mindset to fight situations “of generalised wastefulness” (Nr.191) when he sees and puts in front of us what todays world is doing to the poor. “The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”” (Nr.53). The human person and her integral development are at stake. Peaceful leadership must be integral and including. It is more than a technic. It is more than skills and systems. It is about living to one’s full potential as a community or organisation. No artificial intelligence will replace this sacred intelligence embedded in humans and communities. This sacred intelligence as an expression of our common (corporate) conscience is our thread into a better future for the best of our institutions and for the best of our world. It is a missionary task because it’s about the reign of God in our midst, the resurrection of people against all forms of death.
Going for a “community embedded leadership system” could be a deliberate choice for a culture of life breaking through the cultures of death. Shared leadership is not a dream, but can be learned in a given community which takes care of all its stakeholders. A good leader is always a systemic part of a whole system of leadership in which he or she is accepted (and thus leading). An internally rejected leader is a formal and costly element in a self-organised system which would work the same way without that person.
Making the catholic leadership initiative an international one would certainly provide more space for manoeuvring and avoiding blind spots linked to one specific cultural approach.
Happy to read any reactions and comments!