Rev. Brian K. Wilcox
Pastor, Southwest UMC, Gainesville, FLLeadership Without Easy Answers
Ronald A. Heifetz
Heifetz offers a prescriptive approach that is practical and adaptable; that is, the reader is offered suggestions and principles that are flexibly applicable to the needs of differing contexts. The theoretical framework the author utilizes derives from social interaction, Freudian psychology, anthropology, leadership theory, and music.
The author distinguishes between authority as a position and the exercise of leadership from persons whether or not in authority positions. He clarifies the communal context of leadership as not reliant on role but limited or enhanced in differing ways by such role. He demonstrates how all persons in a system can be leaders and authority as role does not guarantee acceptance of leadership by others in the system or assumption of that responsibility to lead by the leader.
Therefore, Heifetz offers this book to clarify how the entire system can utilize leadership as a means to do adaptive and technical work. Persons who are specializing in authority roles provide technical information, presence, protection, pacing of work, resolution of conflict, promotion of changes in attitude, behavior and values, …, enabling others to do the ongoing adaptive (or, transformative) task. Consequently, this book is a resource for those in authority roles who wish to facilitate a system, which permits the constituency to empower itself to fulfill its vision and purpose for existence.
A strength of the book is the author's use of historical persons and movements as examples. He draws upon the leadership examples of Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, and others.
This book was not written for pastors or church leaders, specifically. Yet, the leadership principles apply in all domains of role responsibility. The work is easily adaptable to application in the context of church life or religious institutions. Because of this, Leadership Without Easy Answers is a helpful resource for church leaders who want to facilitate a permission-giving, laity-led system; understand how to enable laity to maximize their own potentials to lead; care for oneself as leader within the context of the myriad expectations and sometimes unrealistic demands placed on church leadership.