thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

The Core of Leadership – Hope


This week I began reading a new book on leadership. It’s written by Nancy Ortberg and is entitled, “Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership.” I have been a fan of Nancy’s since her days as a teacher and leader at Willow Creek. Since she and her husband John left Willow in 2004, Nancy has been working as a leadership consultant with her company Teamworx2, along with teaching at both Menlo Park Church and conferences around the globe.

This is a different kind of book on leadership. First off, it is written by a woman. Honestly, how many books on leadership on your shelf have been authored by a female? (If you have read some good ones, please make some recommendations). Second, it takes a non-linear approach to leadership. What does that mean? Well first off, the chapters are not numbered. That might give you a clue. As well, Ortberg emphasizes culture over systems and believes that good leaders must attend to creating cultures that help people flourish.

In one of the early chapters (remember no chapter numbers-only titles), Ortberg suggests that the core of leadership is hope. She writes, “Leadership is the hope that we can change things that need to be changed and create what we cannot now imagine. Hope gives us the courage to move forward, the power to forgive, and the grace to keep the promises we have made.” As I read her words about hope, three leaders from the African America community came quickly to mind. Martin Luther King Jr. writings and sermons have been gathered into a collection entitled “A Testament of Hope.” Jesse Jackson’s mantra to this day has been “keep hope alive.” And Barack Obama inspires people with “the audacity of hope.” Ortberg compares hope to a bone marrow transplant. Hope invades and permeates; it releases from cynicism and doubt. It is stronger than the fear that can hold people captive. Hope changes everything.

What do you think about Nancy’s assertion and thesis? What do you think is at the core of leadership?

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Filed under: hope, leadership

3 Responses

  1. The Engaged EduGator says:

    Your point is a great one Terry! Leadership really is all about hope. Without hope, people just go through the motions never understanding that their contributions are needed, necessary, or can make a difference! Enlightened Power by Lin Coughlin (and others) Women and Leadership Q by Shoya Zichy and Her Place at the Table by Deborah Kolb are other leadership books written by women. The interesting thing about nearly all of the books, including Ortberg’s is that leadership is defined in a way that is much more relational, influential, and collaborative than “command and control.” Out of that style, hope does flow more easily, and people are more likely to see themselves as a significant part of an organization and a contributing force in its success – which is exactly the hope you have described… and exactly what leads them to put their passion, creativity, and innovation behind the collective mission.

  2. terry says:

    thanks for stopping by edugator (love the name). and i appreciate the book recommendations. wisdom and leadership q looks interesting and i look forward to reading the various cases studies presented.

    i have discovered that inviting people to the table with a collaborative, relational approach and style is not only more fruitful – but it is a lot more fun as well.

  3. Dianne says:

    interesting. i am reading “looking for God” by nancy ortberg and although she has chapter numbers, her TOC orientation is laid out differently. she definitely sees and thinks outside the box (i am loving this book). i think i could read or listen to anything by her. and hope seems to be God’s “word of the week (month, day, year)” for me right now – interesting to find it here as well!

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have the peace that passes understanding at the heart of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world. for the world is more malleable than we think and we must wrestle it from fools. (bono)
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