One of the graduate courses I team in Latin America is Emerging Paradigms of Leadership. It is a course that looks at the emerging culture and the Christian engagement with that culture and the new kind of leadership needed for serving the purposes of God in our historical situation.
I will be teaching that course this fall at Lancaster Bible College and Grad School and I am doing some re-reading of key texts to be covered in that course. It hits me again that so many of the emergent authors give a central place of importance to imagination. Tim Keel (Intuitive Leadership) and Alan Roxburgh (The Missional Leader) are just two of these voices.
Now, I guarantee you, that if you work through the standard texts on leadership, you will be hard pressed to find imagination listed in the top ten leadership skills needed for today (for example, check out Kouzes and Posner, the Leadership Challenge) unless the author sneaks it in when discussing visionary leadership. But even then, it is not being used the way the emergent leaders talk about imagination.
I think Keel and others are on to something important.
We live in a post-modern world and in that world, rationality and logic, while still important, are not enough. Imagination, creativity, intuition and more are just as vital. Leaders will have to cultivate their creative side in the season of life that is ahead of us.
The Leader as Poet, Leader as Artist, Leader as Story-Teller and even Leader as Fool are all useful metaphors for the new kind of leadership in a "post" world.
With that said, here is a great thought from Jeffrey Sobosan in Romancing the Universe:
My increased years have taught me that, like competence in all other things, competence in imaginative effort also takes deliberate and focused attention. The listlessness of mental effort that often characterizes our behavior, the refusal to attend to anything that is not immediately apparent or useful - the narcissistic temperament - can give way to intellectual passion only when the mind is diligently and carefully exercised over a wide variety of experiences.
This challenges me. Like everything else, I can practice imaginatino. When I practice and exercise the imaginative aspect of life and leadership, it can grow.
In the last two months, I have posted several times on practice.
What are you doing these days to practice being imaginative?