Why Leadership and Organization Fail

Posted 08/01/2019 in

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,

and to give his life as a ransom for many” [Mark 10:45].

I have seen over the years a number of organizations fail due to leadership. I have also witnessed leaders fail because of their organization. There are many reasons that caused failure in leadership and organization, but I would like to highlight three of them:

Leading without calling

Calling has more to do with being than doing. Apostles were called “that they might be with (Christ) and that (Christ) might send them out to preach” [Mark 3:14]. Many leaders today are more concerned about the bottom line than about being. Just as organizations need to look into how their corporate social responsibility (CSR) can reflect their being within the context of the society, leaders need to look into their own being within the context of the people serving or working with them. Making efficiency as the reason to deprive certain benefits from the people is the most classic indication of one leading without calling. 

Leading without caring – 

Caring is about taking the needs of those who serve or work with you seriously so that their being can be nurtured to the point their calling might be aligned with the social responsibility of the organization in the larger context. It is irresponsible for any leaders to suggest to people serving or working in the same organization to leave if they don’t “like” the organization. An organization with leadership that does not care about the people within it would not care about the ecosystem it exists in. Leaders who expect people to “like” the organization without caring about them are dominating rather than leading: “Manipulation, sloganizing, ‘depositing,’ regimentation, and prescription… are components of the praxis of domination” (Freire, 126).

Leading without Christ

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” [Mark 10:45]. When we considered ourselves to be leaders without taking into consideration Christ’s example as a servant, we are “salt los(ing) its saltiness” [Matthew 5:14]. We will “(s)end the people away so that they can go” [Mark 6:36] and take care of themselves. An organization without a sense of service becomes a liability of the society. “Servanthood Jesus’ style is therefore not trying to imitate or be like him. It is letting him transform us and make us more like him, by the power of the Holy Spirit because of his death and resurrection for us” (Tan, 28). 

I am thankful to my esteemed colleagues in the senior leadership at the seminary who awarded me with copious valuable lessons in leadership and organization throughout my time serving as the Acting Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies. I am deeply humbled by their exemplified stewardship. 

May the anointing of the Holy Spirit continue to favor upon those who lead by calling, through caring, and with Christ.

[1] Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1993.

[2] Tan, Siang-Yang. Full Service: Moving from Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.

Peter L. Lim is the Headington Assistant Professor of Global Leadership Development.