VIP Leaders: Shift your Perspective and then Lead Change

Recollections from Dr. Krish Kandiah at GLS2019

Do you want to be a VIP?  It’s a pretty attractive person to be, especially where there are a LOT of other people.  Nothing like special entrances, reserved seating, beverages and food provided, parking…you get the idea.  Very Important Person.  What about being a VIP kind of leader?  That’s what Dr. Kandiah offered for our contemplation…to be a VIP leader.  Here’s what he says VIP stands for:

  1. Vision:  OK, I know a lot has been written about vision.  But this is vision with a twist.  Dr. Kandiah said vision is “seeing things differently than others” and visionary leaders help others see things differently.  Visionary leadership is the “art of seeing what is invisible to others.”  Seeing differently looks like this:  where some see problems, visionary leaders see potential.  Where some see chaos, visionary leaders see hope (because chaos is the condition into which God’s spirit hovered during creation!)  Where some see obstacles, visionary leaders see opportunities.  It can be lonely to be a visionary leader.  Persecution?  Perhaps.  Accused of being out of touch?  Probably.  Pollyanna?  Maybe.  But, visionary leaders unleash unseen potential, proclaim hope and identify opportunities.
  2. Inclusion:  Inclusion is a popular topic in the business world and the church today.  But typical of this presentation, this was not about topics like diversity and engagement and development.  Helping us see what we might not have seen before, Dr. Kandiah offered a Jesus-like look at inclusion.  Inclusion is the opposite of prejudice.  Inclusion is a radical hospitality that is based on the truth that we are more than the worst thing we’ve ever done or has ever been done to us.  Inclusion is based on the truth that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.  Inclusion is the fruit of a spirit of kindness and love.  Inclusive leaders lead out of this well of inclusion.
  3. Proximity:  Up until this point in the presentation, I was excited and completely on board.  And then this question dropped into the room:  What kind of leader are you?  Are you a bang the table leader or a set the table leader?  Here it got personal.  Who comes to work each day?  Do I bring my best self to work?  Do I invite and challenge others to invite their best selves to work?  Do I know the stories of those with whom I work?  Do I invite them to bring their whole selves to work so that their personal story matters to me?  To their co-workers?  Am I willing to risk proximity to the hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows of the people I lead so that they know that the “table” of my time, my space and my energy always has a place for them to be seated?  And am I willing to be vulnerable enough to let them see me?  Do I set the table of proximity as a leader?

As this talk wound up, I found myself in an uncomfortable ponder.  What kind of ecclesial leaders do we have?  Do we want?  Did Jesus intend?  Are they VIPs described this way?  Or are they much more like the traditional VIP definition that began this blog?  That’s a question that deserves our honest, deliberate and enduring encounter.  Join ConSpirita in this encounter.  Check out our offerings to see what we might be able to do together or contact us personally for a free one hour consultation.


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As I write this, it’s just under a month until the first phase of the Church’s Synod on the process of synodality is to begin.