A Formula for Leadership

I know I always say there is no formula for leadership. But yesterday I had a conversation with The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond, Canon for Congregational life for the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. I interviewed him for my forthcoming book on churches and money. He said some fascinating things about what he calls “the stewardship of finances” (distinguishing it from a number of other stewardships in church life). LaFond has developed what he calls a “mathematical formula” for leadership.

Here is LaFond’s leadership formula: “Effective – Nice + Kind.” Effective leadership in the area of stewardship of finances has to do with good logistics in leading and planning and strategizing around annual giving. He says, “Nice is a veneer, and it distracts and it obscures, and sometimes even leads to untruth.” He goes on to talk about what “kind” means. “It is kind to tell people the truth. It is kind to say you’re not living a viable life by living at the standard you have chosen. It is kind to say that there is a spiritual illness here that is causing over-spending and under-giving.” I’ve often thought that Christian leaders (myself included) are afflicted with terminal niceness which gets in the way of the church’s mission.

I keep thinking about this formula. What do you think about it?

2 replies on “A Formula for Leadership

  • Margaret Marcuson

    Thanks, Tracy. The “sucker’s choice” is a great way to frame it — that is the bind we so often get in. It requires some real maturity to step out of it. Not easy.

  • Tracy Puett

    This is a great post. I think “nice” gets in the way of so many human relatings.

    What ultimately stands in the way of Kind is the sucker’s choice: Either I can be nice and not tell the truth OR I can tell the truth and not be nice (i.e., unkind). This is the penultimate “sucker’s choice”. We can be Kind AND tell the Truth, even if it does not sit well with the recipient. Sometimes people even will hate us for telling the truth but that very act of truth-telling can be what moves people forward in their lives. They may not understand, but they will open to the truth very often.


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