Power – hard, soft and smart

Since my retreat with the Benedictines, I have continued to ponder the issues of leadership and authority in the life of the church.  What I like is the way in which Benedict describes the kind of person the abbot should become if he is to exercise a good authority.  And to be loved more than feared – presumably because fear is the enemy of truth and without truth in relationships you have very little.

Meanwhile Anne Tomlinson – knowing my admiration for O’Bama – has send me an article from the Scotsman in which Joseph Nye discusses his exercise of power

It’s about soft power – ability to attract and enthuse – and hard power – organisational skill. But what makes Obama special, I think, is the flexibility and contextual intelligence with which he deploys his leadership abilities.

In the church, we put a premium on things like vision and passion.  And so we should – eyes fixed heavenward, etc.  But along the way, I think we need to deploy an extraordinary range of skills – rigour in pushing forward, firmness about boundaries, genuine responsiveness to the feelings of others, pragmatism, intelligence about situations and their potential, spiritual and scriptural rootedness….

Which brings us back to the abbot – a wily old bird, no doubt.  But a very complete human being.