The Leader and the Team

From Gary North, Leadership

(The bold is mine)

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When someone accepts a position of leadership, his goal should not be to keep those under his authority in a state of permanent servitude. His goal is to help them increase their productivity. This is especially true in a business. This outlook surely applies to the military, especially on the battlefield. Someone who commands troops wants them to improve their performance on the job. This is how the members of the unit will be able to complete their missions and come back to alive. Squad leaders get promoted when those under their command outperform other units. A leader who cares for his men will do whatever he can to improve their performance. Those under his command will perform better when he masters the skills associated with improving the performance of his unit. They appreciate being part of a unit that has a reputation for being the best.

A leader should care emotionally for those under his authority. He should therefore take care of them. Caring is an aspect of stewardship. It is in addition to trusteeship. There is no way institutionally to enforce caring. Caring is emotional. It is subjective. In contrast, trusteeship is objective. It can be enforced. Conclusion: caring is not an inherent aspect of trusteeship. The categories are separate. A leader who sees himself as a steward—someone who is acting on behalf of his subordinates—wants to see them prosper, however the organization defines and rewards increased individual output. He also wants to see the team prosper. He deals with individuals (the many) and the team (the one). He seeks to promote the success of individuals as a way to promote the success of the team. He acts on behalf of the team’s individuals, but always in the name of the team.

God holds a leader accountable for the guidance of his subordinates. A leader’s institutional superiors hold him accountable for their joint performance as a team. The superiors are interested in the performance of the team. They pay little attention to individual performances.

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It will take some time, for Christians to again decide to lead.

We might as well learn to recognize a good leader now, so when the time comes, we can choose more Davids and fewer Sauls.

Or even better, more Pauls and Moses’.

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The generation of the exodus had Moses, Caleb, and Joshua to inspire them, but the Israelites ignored all three. Their lives were marked by a lack of faith in God’s promises, despite His promise-confirming acts of deliverance. They died in the wilderness because of this lack of faith.

The link between dedication and strong leadership is universal. So is the link between a lack of dedication and second-rate leadership. The most successful modern imitation of Christianity was Marxist Communism. Karl Marx had been a Christian as a teenager, but he abandoned his faith in God at the university. He proclaimed a secular postmillennialism of inevitable world conquest. My friend and colleague F. N. Lee wrote a massive book on this: Communist Eschatology (1974). Communism promised to create a New Man. After the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in October 1917, Communism attracted millions of followers. But, by 1975, the attraction of Communism was fading because faith in world transformation was fading. Communism by then had experienced the routinization of charisma in both Russia and China. Bureaucracies ruled both nations.

Douglas Hyde was a Communist Party leader and newspaper editor in England in the 1930’s and 1940’s. In 1948, he resigned from the Party. He converted to Roman Catholicism. He wrote an autobiography: I Believed (1950). In 1962, he presented a seminar to Catholic priests and nuns on the Communists’ techniques of training leaders. It was published in 1962 as Dedication and Leadership Techniques. In 1966, Notre Dame University Press published an edited version: Dedication and Leadership. Hyde was correct: the two concepts are related. In 1980, I located a rare copy of the original book. I contacted Hyde in 1984. I asked him if I could reprint it. He refused. He wrote back that the international Communist movement was no longer dedicated. It had lost its fire. His book now gave the wrong impression, he said. I published my edited version of the book in 2006, since the copyright had lapsed a decade earlier. My edition appeared 15 years after the Soviet Union committed suicide. It served as an epitaph for Communism.1


1. You can download it here:

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Even if we cannot be leaders, we should provide these materials to our children: they will surely need good leaders.

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Leadership means authority. Authority means responsibility. As people mature, they are supposed to exercise greater self-government. Self-government is the pathway to leadership. People take authority over their actions. This means that they self-consciously become judicially responsible for their actions. There is no biblical way to separate authority from responsibility. This judicial connection is built into the creation. Jesus said: “I say to you that in the day of judgment people will give an account for every idle word they will have said. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37). Therefore, the inescapable price of moving up any hierarchy of authority is greater responsibility and greater risk of negative sanctions.

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