Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Servant Leadership

Life's been so busy since being elected as a city councillor that I've hardly had time to post. A brief summary of some of the things I've been up to is on my other blog at www.greenwolff.blogspot.com

A theme that crops up continually is that of consultation. It's very clear that the 'ruling' party believes in making all the decisions behind closed doors then putting the proposals out - late in the day - for ratification. They call it 'consultation' but that has become a dirty word in the public's mind.

The belief, presumably, is that this is an efficient and effective way of decision making. Well, maybe it is in a conventional company, or an army, or maybe a university (the leader of the council is HR Director for Oxford Brookes University). Unfortunately a city council is not the same sort of beast. It is elected 'bottom-up' by its 'customers' to deliver whatever services the 'customers' say they want (plus, of course, fulfilling its statutory obligations).

For myself, I believe that a more effective way still can be to go to the widest possible public consultation at the earliest possible opportunity, once it is known what the issue that needs resolving is. There are ways of running such consultations that avoid the many pitfalls. As it is, I get the clear impression that consultation is seen as an irritation, especially if it leads to creative ideas 'we didn't think of'. I think they think the only consultation that counts is when people vote every two years.

The United Reformed Church has its 'shapers' - people who drive 'from the top' - but fundamentally it works by consensus. The Bible is the 'supreme authority for the faith and conduct of God's people' - BUT - no-one can force on you their interpretation of it. That is something that has to be worked out together. It's that balance between the Christ who is "Lord" but also "Servant", who wins the victory by giving away his life and power. Our current leaders no doubt wish to be public servants, but haven't quite cottoned on to what that really means.