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Trevor Waldock thinks so. OK so his comment is qualified. He is not saying that your Aunty Betty can take over leadership of a Fortune 500 company.
But in his leadership definition, we all lead. Some of us badly, some unconsciously, and some reluctantly. But we all do.
Let’s back up for a minute. Trevor heads us emerging-leaders.net, a charity that seeks to provide leadership to the emerging leaders in some of the most impoverished nations of Africa. He has run projects in six countries, the most recent in Sierra Leone. He gathers young people, aged mid teens up to 25 for three days of leadership training, aimed at shifting mind sets so that they learn to look for ways of changing their lives and communities, typically by creating sustainable business ideas. Many, like UK young people, have not been taught to think creatively about their lives.
Trevor uses the metaphor of creating a new story. You have been made the author of your life, but too many live the scripts created by other people. It is time to pick up your pen and write a new story. In essence, that’s a form of leadership: self-leadership to begin with, of course. And in that sense, we are all leaders, at least potentially. You see, we are all made in the image of God. Theologians have puzzled over what might be meant by that term, but at the very least, we read in Genesis 1 that those so described are to fill the earth and subdue it. God intends for humans to walk powerfully into the world and make a difference. Not all get to repopulate, but all can do some subduing!
Sin exchanges the loving rulership of God who gives us freedom to move, with the chains of sin that prevent us moving. (That was the serpents subtle ploy) Sin makes us self focused, and fearful. We become so besotted with ourselves, we cannot easily make the difference God wants. Or if we do, we become self-glorifying. Too easily we become embroiled in networks that are collectively selfish and serve to move forward at the expense of others, not in the furthering of God’s rule and reign, which was always intended. As G.K.Chesterton famously said in response to a question in The Times, "What’s wrong with the world?. I am."
Trevor believes that changing mindsets of young Africans empowers them to write a new future, so that they become less dependent, and more able to serve the good of the community. And so he has seen lives shift very fast, with some glorious outcomes.
So when I asked him, on The Leadership File, what he believed about leadership – he was able to confidently say that everyone is a leader, because everyone bears the image of their creator and as such has glorious potential to write their future.
Some of course become so competent and inclusive about their future that they carry others with them, and they become leaders of others, in the more traditional sense.
Of course the question comes to us all. What are we writing just now? Is it time to erase one writing style, in favour of another, for our sake and the sake of the family, church, charity, business, community, we serve. Need any ink?
You can listen to my interview with Trevor Waldock on July 8th and On Demand on the website thereafter.