There may be no other feature of American life that contains as much bias toward extroversion as leadership. Since our leaders epitomize our cultural values, it is no surprise that Americans want their leaders to be extroverts. Psychologist and author Marti Olsen Laney cites a study that was repeated three times with the same findings: when asked if they would prefer their ideal leaders to be introverted or extroverted, both introverts and extroverts chose an extrovert as “their ideal self and ideal leader.”
In Transforming Church, Kevin Ford tells the story of a scientific experiment involving four monkeys and some bananas at the top of a pole in their cage. At first the monkeys competed against each other for the bananas, and the strongest ones got the most. The weaker ones had to find strategic times to get their bananas. But all of the monkeys were able to eat regularly.
When my neighbor began having memory problems that were more than “senior moments,” she went to the doctor. Neurological tests showed that the problems she was having dated back to a time when she was a child.
Ted Haggard built up a 14,000-member Pentecostal church on the basis of his charismatic gifts and organizational skills. As one of the country’s most prominent pastors and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Haggard had access to the White House and was a consultant to presidential adviser Karl Rove. Heady stuff, indeed—until it came crashing down.
"What keeps you up at night?” I asked the African cardinal at the end of a leisurely lunch near his home. Our conversation had ranged across a variety of topics: the scourge of AIDS in Africa, ineffective leadership within the churches, the character of theological education in our respective contexts, and our own calls to ministry.
What happens when power is seen as inherently suspect and even evil? What happens when power in the church is viewed as bad? What are the implications for the church when its leaders eschew power and influence and consider them qualities or capacities to be avoided?
Leadership is all the rage at universities these days. There are courses in microleadership and macroleadership, leadership skills and leadership techniques. There are professors of leadership (some of them calling to mind the old adage “Those who can, do, those who can’t teach”) and institutes of leadership.