Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Leadership Fine Line

This morning I was watching the Today Show and the Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, was on talking about the state of the economy. I have to admit I was struck some by his comments in light of some of my desires for leadership. He did what so many in the Bush administration do well, and that's portraying an air of confidence and calm.

Our church council has been reading the book, "Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times" by Peter Steinke. One of the things we talked about in there is the need to be a non-anxious presence. It is important for leaders to be calm and confident when confronted with anxiety. When we confront anxiety with anxiety we just raise the level of anxiety. When we confront anxiety with non-anxiety we tend to diffuse the anxiety.

So then, I see this clip posted below. It didn't feel quite right. Take a look and see what you think.

I think it is good that he is attempting to diffuse the anxiety by not being anxious himself and projecting an air of confidence. The problem that I see (and feel free to disagree with me here) is that by projecting this confidence it comes off almost as arrogance because it feels like there is a denying of reality.

It got me to wondering, do I have the same problem sometimes? Perhaps in being non-anxious as a leader I also need to be clear that I recognize the reality of the situation. It seems, then, that we need to be both confident and realistic. So how do we find that balance? I can't say that I have any great answers, but I do recognize that it is critical for leadership.

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