Creative Leadership

Shifting from 1st Generation Leaders (confrontation) to 2nd Generation Leaders (engagement)

Today’s conversation is about leadership styles.  Think about the first generation of Christian media leaders – D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Jim Dobson, and many others.  By and large these were good men who were confronted with the incredible changes happening in the sixties.  Their first reaction?  Confrontation.

It was a logical choice given the timing and background of their ministries.  But today, a new generation has grown up with the changes that started decades ago.  They’ve grown up in an environment of more violent and sexually explicit entertainment, hostility toward religious faith, and extremes in the culture.  As a result, they are more willing to engage others on a wide range of issues.

Another generational issue is the style of leadership itself.  First generation leaders are direct and to the point.  The are driven, and highly opinionated.   They know what they want, how they want it, and where they want it delivered.  That generation surrounds  themselves with people who can execute – people who knew how to get things done.  But second generation leaders don’t have to be so driven because they didn’t start the organization.

They’re usually much more laid back, people oriented and like to work with teams.  They’re also more open to technology.  That’s why second generation leaders surround themselves with idea people.  They want everyone in on the conversation and create with others in mind.

Right now, the Christian community may in the greatest period of transition from first to second generation leaders in our history.  And in some cases the tension is obvious.  The unfortunate situation at the Crystal Cathedral between father (first generation) and son (second generation) is an perfect example of the different styles and expectations.  We need to recognize the difference in leadership styles and help these first generation leaders create smooth transitions once the time has come for them to step aside.

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  1. Great Post, Phil.

    First Generation:  The rules are fixed, the leader interprets the rules… This is one kind of love of God.  Let's call it rigid righteousness.

    Second Generation:  There are no fixed rules (false idols, really), only guidelines… A greater kind of God love.  (Examples are the FAA, US Marine Corp. Tactics, and other more mature organizations, including some broadcast preaching outfits.)  Let's call this more mature ability to operate (manifest Jesus, really) holy flexibility.

    Welcome to the Twenty-First Century broadcasting in God!

  2. As an Idea guy without a 2nd Generation Leader, I find myself on pause.

    My first generation leader calls series of meetings. One meeting where he wears the "Confrontational" hat and then a 2nd "Creative Guys" meeting, one I have in the next hour or so, where he placates the "Engagement" theories.

    I can't be alone in this plight. My fingers have callouses from tapping on my desk passing the time.

    The result of this internal conflict is an all too mixed message to our audience, and a dramatic financial downturn as we bridge the way we were and the way at times we think we could be.

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