David Burnham, renowned behavior science researcher and partner of the Burnham Rosen Group, states that the charismatic, visionary leader is being superceded by the leader who:
(1) brings a focus on creating accountability within others,
(2) cedes decision making to others,
(3) encourages experimentation and flexibility, and
(4) concentrates on building a shared sense of purpose and shared values.
The formula for leadership success today is taking its script from the ancient past. The 21st century is finally catching up to Jesus’ paradigm for leading.
The Formula for Leadership Success
Burnham’s findings are based on a five-year research study of 140 leaders in thirteen companies, eight industries, and five countries. According to Burnham, the key to these newly successful leaders is their thought patterns. These leaders think about authority differently. For example, returning authority to others is a recurrent theme while the leaders of the past thought about stratagems to maintain their authority. Today’s successful leaders think about people differently. They think about them as whole persons, their peers and equals whereas the former leaders think about people as a means of production.
Consequently the new leaders think of situations as complex and encourage experimentation and flexibility whereas the old leader experiences complexity as a challenge into which their role is to bring order and clarity. Finally, the new leader thinks about how to gain pride in work for them and for the group. This motivates them to enable groups to define their purpose, their reason for being. Finally, they define values not as slogans but as real living guides to behavior and to achieving purpose. These thoughts help create a shared focus on quality and delivering a superior product or service as a source of pride.
Someone said that facts are our friends. So Burnham’s research provides empirical evidence for Christ-centered leadership that is founded upon relationship (rather than positional power), and focuses on the followers’ potential (rather than using people as instruments for production). The difference, of course, is that those who practice Jesus’ way of leadership do so not because of shifting data that points to success, but because they believe that Jesus’ way of leading is just the right way to lead.