Leadership – Evoking Others To Risk

One of my passions is quality leadership.  I support those who are willing to dole it out effectively.

A Theologian, Bruce Sanguin, gave a farewell message to his congregation on April 28, 2013.   For 15 years, he had ministered with seemingly transformational skill to the parishioners of Canadian Memorial in Vancouver, B.C.

If I had known Rev. Sanguin existed before my discovery this morning, I would have sought his brand of leadership practiced only a neighbourhood pond away.

As I read his farewell message (he doesn’t use the word “sermon”), I discovered spiritual maturity laced with a leader’s confidence.  He inventoried his own leadership:

“If a spiritual leader has been true to the calling, he will evoke ambivalence…” 

…”If I have not evoked this deep hope of redemption alongside a deep fear that it will ask too much, then I will have failed. In the end, for some it is clear that the words of my mouth and my actions asked too much. As I just made clear, I do not regard this as failure, but rather a risk of leadership worth taking.”

From reading his entire message, I believe Bruce Sanguin expects a great deal more from himself – a trait I respect in leaders.

Being on a biographical binge the past while, I recently rushed into our dazzling new library and grabbed a thick autobiography by Richard Branson:  “Losing my Virginity”.  As I checked out, I wondered what aspect of soul I could possibly gain by reading about a billionaire entrepreneur who looked like an aging California surfer.

Was I surprised!  Richard Branson surely possessed leadership skills from his first breath.  In spite of dyslexia and a challenging school life, without anger Richard took every opportunity to live his dreams.  He ignored the nay sayers and he had many – none being amongst his loving and supportive family.

As he matured, he practiced endless patience with humanity’s inability to recognize good leadership skills. He ignored its disinclination to support the use of his.

When one of Richard’s competitors turned nasty, he maintained a just and merciful attitude toward the people involved.  He could have exposed them and they knew it.  In spite of massive losses caused by these people, he chose the high road.  He kept his defense out of the public eye by not displaying the proof that would have damaged them professionally, politically and personally.

His tolerance, trust and determination paid off abundantly.  New opportunities rose consistently and his diversity broadened.  In spite of endless challenges, Richard’s faith in himself and his belief in the goodness of mankind never seemed to falter.  As he accumulated wealth, Richard began doing good works.  On one such project in Africa, he met Nelson Mandela.

This introduction began his work on another dream.  He believed our struggling planet needed the experience, wisdom and leadership of significant world elders.  Peter Townshend agreed.  Richard and Peter approached Mandela to seek his agreement and interest.

In 2007, with the help of Bishop Tutu , Nelson Mandela formed a global circle of men and women of superior credentials. They call themselves “The Elders” :

“The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.”

Bishop Tutu was their Chair until May of 2013 at which time he retired.  The new Chair is Kofi Annan.

With powerful people like Richard Branson and Peter Townshend acting as catalysts and supporters, I wondered how I could possibly be of service.   Then I realized – with The Elders at the helm, our global willingness could provide some of the wind needed for their sails – even if its only in the form of a daily prayer.  I recently learned it only takes 1% of the world’s population to live in an attitude of Love in order to tip the scales and turn this globe onto its quality axis.

Therefore, I hope The Elders will set the course and ask world leaders to take stock.  May it evoke “a deep fear that it will ask too much” of them.  The fear belongs with them, not in the lives and hearts of their people.

Please take the risk, Blessed Elders.  Ask much of our world leaders.  Talk, talk, talk.  It’s time to ASK.

It just may be the axis-tipper we’ve been waiting for.

26 thoughts on “Leadership – Evoking Others To Risk

  1. I’d love to believe that the ‘Elders’ could offer enough of the right advice to influence our leaders in an attitude of needing world peace. If enough were convinced then people might start believing in Politicians again as they took to the road promoting peace as do-able. If the Middle East conflict between the Arabs and Israelis was settled peaceably I’d again start to have confidence that the world recognises sense and humanity will survive without tearing itself to pieces.

    • I would be surprised if The Elders take on an advisory role. Many have been leaders themselves and would know how little advice is appreciated. No, I expect we’ll see some innovation, David.

  2. Great piece Amy… you give us hope as we try to turn our backs on all the negativity and bad news of the health of the planet. … and you give us something positive to do – to fill their sails with our prayers and hopes and positivity…
    Wonderful phrase – fill their sails… thank you Amy

    • Ironically, as I wrote the piece, I knew Nelson Mandela was in the hospital yet again with his delicate lungs. So my prayers broaden, though I know his soul will do just exactly as it’s meant to do.

      I love your writing, Valerie. I’m so glad to have found you.

  3. Thanks Amy. I would never have picked that book up because, like you would assume that it would be a catastrophic ego assessment. You’ve changed my mind. I love hearing about people like this! Trying so hard to share these types of stories with the three young men under our roof.

  4. I pray that the talking will lead to an end to these constant armed conflicts – wars – killing. It seems so simple a message – stop the killing. Why can’t it stick?

    • You know, Jean, I keep getting the message that the whole transformation is resting on each and every one of us taking stock of ourselves and responding to life and others in the spirit of love. Now that’s pretty damned simple!! I hope The Elders can create the questions needed to be asked of these world leaders so this simple concept can be bored into hearts. I keep hearing it’s an inside job for which each of us are responsible. Some have thicker skulls than us!

  5. One of my favorite Leadership books was “Servant Leadership.” When I was in leadership positions, my hope was that I would lead as an educator and in the process I was more often the learner. Personally, I love the phrase “Question Authority.” When I was young (I was too young for the position I was given) this was such a threat

    To be honest, it’s so good to be free of the huge burden of leadership. And so, I best do a better job of praying for those who are stuck with it.

    • One of the greatest traits a leader needs is to be a good listener. As you experienced, as a listener, there’s endless learning. It may save time to just give the direction, but the benefits to helping employees grow beyond themselves are many fold.

      I experienced one older employee who wanted me to tell her what and how to do her job. I saw she was used to an autocratic leader and was not about to change. She was deathly afraid of making a mistake. We compromised, but she took the lion’s share of my time that I had to spend on details.

      Yes, I too feel I’ve had my share of leading people and projects. However, in my community efforts, I find myself exasperated with poor leadership. I remind myself that I could step up to the plate. It helps me cool my jets.

      I’ll be praying with you, Victoria!

  6. What a wonderful post. I must get the book. I have heard the Elders mentioned several times recently which must be a sign that they are becoming a force to be reckoned with. I do hope so~the world needs them desperately!

    • I hope the messages I have been hearing/reading/finding are correct – that there’s a move coming up that will shift the power away from the 1%. A big contributor is our awareness. Leaders are realizing we’re really not going to take it any more. I hope that encourages the “good guys” to persist with the move that will create the needed shift.

      Branson goes into quite a bit of detail re the business dealings – which I really enjoyed since that was part of my career life. I’m delighted you’ve been hearing about the Elders. That’s a good sign indeed, Heaven Happens!

  7. Transform the world one at a time, starting with yourself? Sounds good to me. Nelson Mandela is surely a hero in my eyes. He has done so very much with his life. I hate to see him tottering on the edge. I will keep this transformation in mind. Work from the inside out, Linda.

    • Linda, I confess that I’ve seen that in you from the time we connected. You don’t hesitate to look at yourself. Bravo! I respect you a great deal for that!

    • Within each and every one of us, Charles. Then it will be lived. I hope these Elders can cause leaders to pause and get past ego. I don’t mind being one of the people who believe in it.

  8. Great thoughts on Leadership Amy.

    To me Leadership has always been about supporting people to dream. Dream that how he/she would show up tomorrow would be better than how he/she shows up today. The leader serves and gives of himself in a manner that all folks around him inculcate a great spirit of “ownership” of the journey.



    • Your comment says a great deal about you, Shakti.

      And so many managers (note that I didn’t say “leader”) make the mistake of fearing the process of encouraging employees to take ownership. Fear of loss of control? The loss is far broader and more serious than one of control.

      The best leaders I’ve experienced helped people believe in themselves and created opportunities to excel. Everyone benefited.

  9. Hi Amy, I’m so delighted to read this post and to discover that you also found such value in “Losing My Virginity”. I have been consistently inspired by Richard Branson since reading it many years ago and I’m sure you will LOVE his latest book “Screw Business As Usual” for all the reasons you have enjoyed this one and more so for its over-arching message of transformation. Much love from SA! XO

  10. There are those who are natural bourne leaders, methinks. I don’t think they aspire or battle to get there, it’s simply who they are. They couldn’t be a back seat person, even if they tried their darnedest. They inspire and encourage and get out of the way so souls can take flight. They don’t demand respect, they command it.
    Those are the Elders.
    May G-d bless their journeys.

    And may we all discover just how potent our love truly is.

  11. You stepped outside the box and look what you found. I often think I need to branch out in my authors that I read. I do hope that one day there will be peace, you are so right that it begins inside each one of us

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