Organic Leadership Book Review

Neil Cole did a book on Organic Leadership.

It was a great reminder to invest the time into building leaders from the ground up, rather than just recruit, re-recruit, and over-extend established leaders.  Some of his key points are doing so are:

  1. Showing leaders what to do instead of teaching.
  2. Only train if needs for the skill are known and felt.
  3. Take it one lesson at a time… then move on to the next.
  4. They learn it best when they have to teach it to someone else.
  5. Keep it on the job training – not classrooms/workbooks.

My greatest agreement with Neil is the idea of earned influence.  It’s very easy for a leader of lesser influence to lean into the platform of a greater, but that misses the point of leadership. Leading within the circle of influence you have is what earns the following of an increasing circle. If you can’t lead two people well, you won’t get the chance to lead 10, 100, or 1,000.  We have to respect the “organic” process of becoming a leader.

My strongest contention with Neil is ideology of completely flat leadership structure – no leaders.  I just don’t see it… in practicality or in theology.  Ever been in a group or team with no leadership present?  It’s not a pretty sight.  Theologically speaking, “leadership” is one of the stated spiritual gifts, so no one should shy away from playing that role.  Titles aren’t necessary for leadership, but if a title helps explain what a persons role will be, then it’s an asset.


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