We recently invited several organisations to join us for a roundtable discussion about public leadership. Each of these organisations works in the broad field affected by public leadership, including Christian leadership development, cultural engagement, and workplace discipleship.
We asked each organisation to give a short presentation on their work, focusing on societal trends which are affecting their work and future trends and priorities for public leadership.
We talked about how we can celebrate the people already displaying public leadership and the even larger group of people with influence who want to learn how to use it, even though leadership is often not seen as a solution by a divided society.
There is a sense that people do not trust leaders, with the word ‘leadership’ itself becoming a toxic and sometimes unhelpful brand, and that there is cynicism about the concept of “truth”. We also discussed the growing hostility towards expressions of faith (particularly in politics) and the high level of religious illiteracy in society.
Some contributors identified that the moment of entering the workplace is a moment of church drop-off, particularly when the church reinforces the sacred/secular divide, and that advances in technology, increased remote working, extended working life, globalisation and high levels of people movement are all factors which affect workplace practices. This impacts the time people have for their family, and consequently for leadership roles outside of the workplace.
We live in an instant-results culture and people expect the world to move fast which contributes to a feeling of unpredictability and instability. Between these factors, it is hard to engage people in long-term projects where the impact is not immediately seen or felt.
We also discussed the lack of intergenerational thinking or commitment, and a tendency for older generations to misunderstand the working practices of millennials. Millennials have a positive desire for work balance and social responsibility, and their passion and ‘good anger’ bring great opportunities.
The conversation brought up some important and exciting ideas for how we could collectively encourage public leaders, including building a network of public leaders; building confidence, Godly character foundations and an understanding of Christ’s transforming power in developing leaders; providing a vision for society and igniting imagination; and encouraging the growth of a diverse future generation of leaders including young people, women and people from diverse class and ethnic backgrounds.
We can’t promise that we will be able to deliver all of this in the next year! But we are encouraged that we walk alongside some great organisations and individuals. While we each approach this work in a slightly different way, we hope that together we will be able to build towards a culture of public leadership throughout the UK Christian community – a culture that is welcomed by society at large as being for the good of all.
If you would like your organisation to be present at a future event, or if you have resources or events which could be promoted on this website, please contact Abi Jarvis at [email protected].