When we elect leaders in government, too often they fear actual leadership, prefering to consult opinion polls and marketing advisors to see what they should do; how best to follow those they ought to be leading.

In schools and in religious communities leaders are sometimes, I would suggest, influenced by this model of leadership too. And it does noone any good.

Finding myself in the the role of leader in an academic, spiritual and business context, I encounter the same temptation, and the same awful dilemma as the politicians. And the odd thing is that when one does actually exercise leadership and tell people what to do, how to run their lives, how to do their job ... the result is that they are - as often as not - reassured, and that one feels oneself thrown back on the great power, authority and comfort of Almighty God.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that leaders need to flaunt their power or authority. But when leadership is called for, one needs to answer that call. A couple of weeks ago I met some interested parents who came to speak to me about their son. It was clear that he wasn't going to be a candidate for our school, but I simply felt that someone had to tell these good parents what to do, and that this was precisely why they had come to see me. So I gave them the difficult advice that I felt they needed to hear, even if that advice was hard for them to listen to.

This morning the mother rang to say that the son was not going to apply for our school, but that she thanked me from the bottom of her heart for the advice that I had given her, and which she and her husband had put into practice, with visible positive fruits in respect of their relationship with their son. She said to me that she was going to pray for me every day ... Wow.

It's not always like that. But, in fact, most of the time it is. Even mediochre leadership, it seems, is better than no leadership at all. Moral: if you are a leader, lead.


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