Leadership is often thought of in terms of “information.” Leaders communicate to their followers, they teach and inform them (hopefully), and tell them where to go by sharing information.
Leadership however, should be about forming and shaping the hearts and imaginations of those they lead. Therefore leadership should be “formational.” Leadership shapes and creates certain kind of people, a people who love certain things and imagine certain things. And this shaping is accomplished through habits, practices, routines, rituals—in other words through liturgies.
Merriam Webster defines liturgy as a eucharistic rite, a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship, a customary repertoire of ideas, phrases, or observances
The practices of leaders are in many ways like liturgies and viewing them through this lens helps us see how a leader’s rites, rituals, habits, observances, etc. can shape their followers.
Liturgies aim our love to different ends precisely by training our hearts through our bodies. They prime us to approach the world in a certain way, to value certain goals, to purse certain dreams, to work together on certain projects. In short, every liturgy constitutes a pedagogy that teaches us…to be a certain kind of person. Hence every liturgy is an education. ~ James K.A Smith || Desiring The Kingdom
Leadership is a shaping work. Leadership can form, mold, and shape followers. Leadership can shape habits and desires and these ultimately shape the heart and the imagination.
Leadership is not just information. Leadership is formation.
Leadership is a set of identity shaping actions. These liturgies are aimed at grabbing hold of the hearts and minds, the hearts and imaginations of followers through repeated practices, habits, rituals and routines. These are out leadership liturgies.
These habits constitute a kind of ‘second nature’…they become so intricately woven into the fiber of our being…Our habits thus constitute the fulcrum of our desire: they are the hinge that ‘turns’ our hearts, our love, such that it is predisposed to be aimed in certain directions. ~ James K.A Smith || Desiring The Kingdom
Leadership is also a directing work. Leadership grabs us from within and points our hearts and minds to our ultimate aims, the things that we should love and hope for as followers.
Many leaders fail because they have enlisted the intellect of others but not their imaginations. They have their heads, but not their heartsMany leaders fail because they have enlisted the intellect of others but not their imaginations. They have their heads, but not their hearts Click To Tweet
Since no habit, practice, ritual, or routine is neutral—they are all pointing at something and who we are becoming—the question that must be asked is what sort of leader are these liturgies shaping and what sort of vision or ultimate aim are these liturgies pointing toward?
In the church, when we think we liturgical practices we often think of the baptism, communion, confession, worship and praise, the Bible and sermons, hospitality, etc. These all more than informational, rather they are transformational in that they shape us and point our love to the ultimate end of God and others.
What do our leadership liturgies look like?
Are they informational or transformational?
Think about your leadership vision, mission, goals, and strategies. Consider how your schedule, budget, meetings, training, performance reviews etc., contribute to shaping your followers. What do your emails, notes, handshakes, and hugs point to?
How do the habits, practices, rituals, and routines of your leadership transform your follower’s hearts and imaginations?
This is your leadership liturgy.
Great leaders do not so much command us to follow, but shape our hearts and imaginations so that we desire to go]
Does your leadership liturgy look like those of this world? Does it shape hearts and imaginations that measure success differently from that of the world?
What does your leadership liturgy say about Jesus?
What does your leadership liturgy say about you?