Solutions June 2016 - Page 43

almost always “people problems” and leadership skill involves transforming the way people participate. This paradigm of how people function will determine our understanding of 1) what can change and 2) what will achieve that change. For Western leadership this generally means we provide better information so people make better choices and things will change. Isn’t that how things work? BETTER INFORMATION? BETTER CHOICES? The traditional paradigm that has dominated Western thought for the last four hundred years can be summed up in a simple equation: Reason + Good Choices = Transformation This paradigm grew out of the Enlightenment. When René Decartes uttered his famous phrase, “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”), he started a revolution in philosophy that believed the most important thing about being human was our ability to reason. The British philosophers took this a step further and argued that people are molded by the choices they make. According to these thinkers, choices built on reason (as opposed to superstition, or faith, or revelation) were the best choices. These academics taught a philosophical theory called voluntarism, from which we get our equation “reason + good choices = transformation.” The English brought this very rational idea to the colonies, where it took root and since then underlies many of our assumptions about “how things work”—including in the church. The idea is that if you give people good information, they can make good choices and change their lives. Most preaching and most discipleship programs are built around this philosophy. Of course, as most preachers can tell you, just giving people good information doesn’t guarantee that they will make good choices or guarantee real life change is going to occur. In fact, in both ministry and business we take it for granted that good information doesn’t necessarily lead to good choices, so we add another element in the hopes of producing changed behavior—accountability. WHY ACCOUNTABILITY DOESN’T WORK More than once, I (Marcus) have been asked by a ministry leader to develop a discipleship program with some “teeth” in it. By this they mean discipleship that is strong on accountability. Most pastors have figured out that simply telling people what is wise doesn’t mean they are going to do it. So, the assumption is that people need to be told what to do, then forced to report on how they are doing, or nothing will change. The accountability solution has ruled the business world as well. Voluntarists believe that if we want to see change (either personally or corporately), we need to inform people of how we want them to behave, get them to commit to adopting that behavior, and then hold them accountable to their commitment. (See: performance reviews.) It is virtually a given that any book on leadership will say accountability is the key to transformation. As widespread and apparently sensible as the accountability solution has become, it has proven to be a massive failure at producing the results it promises. Nearly all discipleship and leadership training we provide our pastors and corporate managers is based on accountability. Yet when we look at the fruit, we see a long history of fallen leaders, relational train wrecks, and discouraged followers. One of the reasons the accountability paradigm falls short is that the model is fueled by fear. When I meet with my accountability group, I am only happy to see them if I have been successful in keeping my promises. If I have failed, there is fear in the meeting. I am afraid to disappoint the group. I am afraid to fall short of expectations. I am afraid of the consequences of my failure. More than one accountability group has fallen apart because people simply stopped coming when they started failing. SMG Solutions 43