The longevity of an organization depends on leaders who are willing to identify, develop, and send out new leaders. In small organizations with members between three and twenty persons, leaders emerge through a two phase process. The first phase involves immediate exclusion by the group of some persons from leadership because of ability or desire. The second phase removes persons from the opportunity to lead the group on the basis of social interaction, an inability to communicate, and additional outside influences. The group activity to essentially select new leadership through attrition involves the protection of the group's common purpose and identity to influence members within the group and the environment in which the group interacts.
Aubrey Fisher and Donald Ellis (1994) conducted a study on how individuals short circuit an opportunity to become an emerging leader within a group. Leadership involves a set of behaviors to influence a group to believe and accomplish a goal. According to Fisher and Ellis (1994), there are counter productive behaviors which slowly or quickly disqualify a man or woman from the opportunity to exert influence within a group.
Behaviors which Prevent Leadership
What Does this Mean for the Local Church or Your Organization?
Local churches and organizations need new leaders. Jesus describes leadership as men and women who are willing to represent themselves as servants for the kingdom of God (Mark 10:45). Paul offers a perspective on leadership in his activity as an apostle who moves throughout the Roman Empire to establish local churches and identify elders who shepherd the flock of God (Acts 13-14; 20:17-38; Ti 1:5-9). New leadership provides a renewed perspective of loving the people of God and stimulates succession which supports the longevity and viability of the local church.
Consider Fisher and Ellis (1994) three observations on absence, jokes, and authority. First, frequent absences of an individual in the life of a group prevent leadership emergence. The notion of community represents is a strong idea in the local church because it originates out of the Trinitarian reality. When a person is consistently absent from hearing, seeing, and participating in the life of a group, trust and affection will not develop. Paul demonstrates the importance of community and presence as he communicates to the Ephesian believers and the Thessalonians the importance of his bodily example in ministry, vocation, and genuine concern (Acts 20:31-35; 1 Thessalonians 1:7-12). Second, every situation in your organization can not be an opportunity to tell a quick one liner. Groups desire leaders who possess a level of gravity and weight about them. Persons gather within groups because the members identify with a common goal or purpose. When instances arrive that threaten the group and thus hinder the forward progress, laughter may not be the best solution. While laughter provides a light moment, the difficulty and the need to address the situation remains in the lives of the group members (Proverbs 14:13). Individuals who desire to be leaders yet consider every moment an opportunity to tell a joke or create laughter communicate to group members the ability to engage in difficult situations is impotent. Groups want leaders who can speak with seriousness when a budget shortfalls occur, when a ministry may have to reduce its influence, or layoffs are on the horizon. Lastly, Fisher and Ellis (1994) observe groups will exclude individuals from the pursuit of leadership because of his or her disdain for authority. Leadership carries with it a level of authority. Whether the authority is positional or relational, persons who lead possess a level of authority to influence the group. When a person consistently communicates an aversion to leadership patterns and structures, the remaining persons in the group offer the individual the logical conclusion to his or her pattern of behavior. Therefore, the employee who refuses to abide by organizational policies or complains about leadership decisions will not have the opportunity to lead smaller groups. The young man who desires to be an elder but refuses the wise counsel of existing leaders still has much to learn.
Look at the list above and use it as an opportunity to influence those men and women within your organization who have the desire to lead yet lack the ability because of one of the eight behaviors. Men and women who demonstrate a passion to influence people and change society for the betterment of mankind are imperfect persons and need to have weaknesses identified. Organizational longevity requires emergent leadership and leadership succession so that in the next generation of your organization the new leaders have the opportunity to exercise influence.