Miss-teries of leadership

I’ve been reading Hans Kung’s letter. It remarkable to see him still plugging away after all these years … Consistency and stamina are remarkable things.

Those who have travelled with me through Holy Week will know that I get particularly upset about Pontius Pilate. I see in him the person who could have acted but chose not to – who had leadership authority invested in him but failed to exercise it. Why chose that issue? Because I lived most of my life in a society whose leaders lacked the moral courage to address deep-seated issues. And people died.

So that’s why my eye is caught by Kung’s repeated charge, ‘Missed .. the opportunity … for rapprochement .. for reconciliation .. for help’

There is a side to leadership which is about recognising the signs of the times, seeing the opportunity or the unavoidable necessity of taking action. I believe that the toughest leadership of all – but that which is most worthwhile – comes when the leader challenges his or her own people. Strangely, leaders who miss opportunities are seldom criticised because people don’t see what isn’t there. So life moves on in a spurious calm. Yet it is the role of a leader to see, to call, to challenge.

The time will come.


    1. Chris – I wouldn’t risk claiming that I don’t find it convenient to play the Pilate card sometimes as in ‘I don’t have to be the person who takes a stand on this issue so I won’t’ On the other hand, I find it difficult to understand people who have leadership challenges staring them in the face and behave as if they aren’t there. Somewhere along the line, I think I got hard-wired in the other direction – the only caveat being that discerning of battles which, ‘you either know you can win or can’t afford to lose’

  1. Amen. The most worthwhile – and the toughest. “Here be dragons.” (It is, after all, St. George’s Day!) It would be good if the message this political season were not just “change,” but “challenge,” as you suggest.

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