NEW YORK (March 8, 2012)–My column on leadership last week struck such a chord with our readers that I decided to continue the series this week.
Thankfully, so did Pastor A.R. Bernard of Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center, who on Sunday morning continued teaching on the call to leadership.
Thanks to technology, last week’s message about leadership advancing others above self evoked positive responses not just from leaders across the tristate area but also from Jamaica to Guyana and St. Thomas to St.Lucia.
This past Sunday, Bernard, who traces his roots to Central America and the Caribbean, emphasized that leadership is not only a calling by God, it’s also a place of honor.
How many times do we hear people complain about the dictatorial, detached nature of their bosses or employers? Perhaps they don’t understand the difference between authoritative and relational influence.
The Book of Hebrews teaches that a leader “can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.” We all have weaknesses, laws, shortcomings, idiosyncrasies; a good leader stays ever mindful that he or she is one with the people in terms of their human frailty.
Bernard, who serves as president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, argues that authoritative leadership uses the power of position to enforce strict obedience to commands. Authoritative leaders are often domineering, dominating and dictatorial, and use their positional influence, not personal influence, to get people to do things.
Therein lies the difference between the domineering concrete authority and abstract authority, which, on the other hand, appeals to an individual’s sense of reason.
Authoritative leadership brags: “I’m in charge, you must listen to me.” Relational leadership builds on relationships with the people being led, connecting with them on psychological, emotional and motivational levels.
But some people need concrete authority. They are typically children or those who are immature in nature.
Relational leadership or abstract authority takes into consideration other people’s feelings and opinions. “They lead with a great degree of sensitivity to others,” said Bernard.
The bottom line is that one can lead authoritatively or relationally; authoritative leadership achieves compliance but not commitment, but if one builds a relationship, change and change for the better…a guess what? They will be committed to the leader when the charge is given.