Progressive leadership focuses on a continuous journey, the constant reshaping of vision and outcomes to navigate specific challenges.
Progressive leaders tend to manage volatile situations well, welcome change and often seek out ingenious solutions that are both challenging and difficult to replicate. They understand the need to develop sustainable value and longer term assets as well as shorter term returns.
One of the facets of Progressive Leadership is broad coalition and collaboration. There is willingness to work with a broad spectrum of people outside the traditional scope so as to attain the desired result. Collaborative networks serve to broaden and deepen perspective on decision making; they enable progressive leaders from throughout the organisation to help make critical leadership decisions. One works with the general populace to ensure there is consensus and all input, if relevant is taken up for consideration. For the purposes of national development, it is essential that the leader is in engagement with all demographic of the society, whether with those in approval or disapproval.
The leader has the ability to sift out and identify those parties that share some combined vision and harness it for the communal good. A progressive leader further spurs all around to participate in the realisation of the common good.
Another critical facet of progressive leadership is mentorship. Grooming of understudies to take over the mantle once one’s tenure is exhausted or when there is realization that new and invigorated insight is required (Henry & Richard Blackaby). One must always ensure there are people, competent and versed in the requirements of the leadership position to lead after one has left. Not only does this ensure that there is continuity, there is comfort in the rest of the organization that a tried and proven member of the team, aware of all challenges and demands is now left to take the reins. Fewer things cause chaos and confusion than an army unsure of their leadership.
As a leader one has the benefit of experience. And this experience, handed down as anecdotes and learnings to an aspirant leader, can provide a smoother and more efficient leadership regime once one has left. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Aspirant leaders are often full of ideas, but are often clueless on the finer arts of diplomacy and tact. Youthful exuberance often clouds tempered action. This is why for progressive leadership; conveyance of this information and the inner workings of an organisation is necessary. Leaders should aid their subordinates or team mates realise, harness and develop innate skills and capacities they may not be aware of having.
The leader as a mentor, even when having handed over the mantle of leadership, will always be referred back to for encouragement and insight, further adding value to the initial input said leader had made. All great leaders underwent some form of mentorship that sharpened their focus and guided their vision. Benjamin Disreali said “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
Grass that is here today and gone tomorrow does not require much time to mature. A giant oak tree that lasts for generations requires much more time to grow strong. So it is with the person chosen or being groomed to take over in leadership. Their stay under mentorship by the leader ensures that the core of the organisation, its principles, its foundations are always maintained and proliferated for years to come.
Progressive leadership, and the amalgamation of its facets, will ensure that national development is an incessant and unrelenting goal. The progressive leader abides by the statement made famous by President John. F Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Progressive leadership ensures that the ideals of those that brought the country together are always appreciated, enforced and made reality.
* Reverend Jan A. Scholtz holds a Diploma in Youth Work & Development from the University of Zambia. He writes in his personal capacity.