21st century leadership requires systemic thinking & dynamic action. Simplistic decisions wreck havoc on organizations & destroys organizational health. The lack of this kind of leadership is best illustrated when a leader, a minister, or department head makes an organizationally wide decision that is obviously the best for the leader’s focused area but inadvertently causes new and multiple problems for others outside the leader’s immediate field of vision. It quickly destroys trust in leadership, increases costs, veers the organization off mission, and creates fresh quagmires that everyone else has to wade through in order to steady the ship.
What is required today is a leader who can think and see systemically like a person who works a Sudoku puzzle. What often happens is that leaders are promoted or hired who do a great job with part of the puzzle but fail to see the multifaceted, multilayered effects that all decisions create. Study the picture. The top left set of 9 squares is properly filled in. The puzzle player can be excited that they did it; they are surely on their way to solving the puzzle. However, when the player continues to finish the puzzle, it is incredibly obvious that the original numbers are not at all correct, no matter how well they initially worked. However, it is an easy fix. Erase the first set of numbers and start thinking in a dynamic perspective, realizing that every decision must be weighed by what else is going on in all the other squares.
The problem with this scenario in real life situations, with churches or organizations, is that we can’t just erase our initial decisions with a pencil no matter good it looked in the first set of nine squares. We may think that our decisions or choices are good for the whole but there are unseen others involved who will be grossly affected. Often, the wheels of impact from that first, independent, decision begin rolling, creating obstacles and dilemmas that are worse that before the initial decision was made. Usually this scenario happens when leaders fail to get the unvarnished truth and perspectives of direct reports, who are afraid to share their necessary perspectives fearing repercussions. It can also occur with leaders who cannot laterally think in interrelated viewpoints. Great people. Wonderful examples. Fantastic spokesmen. Poor leaders for a new world.
Here is a test, if you can’t work the WHOLE Sudoku puzzle, that might be an indicator that you shouldn’t be leading where your decisions could create major headaches for others in your organization. It can be learned. It will take some work. This can be taught. We teach this thinking and this kind of leadership in the Youth and Family Ministry department at Lincoln Christian University every day. This isn’t your grandfather’s leadership atmosphere. We need kingdom leaders who humbly serve but who can laterally think and systemically make decisions with a Sudoku leadership mindset.