Saturday, December 27, 2008

LEADING Cross-Culturally

This past week I finished reading Sherwood Lingenfelter’s new book, LEADING Cross-Culturally. In all of Shewood’s works there are two common threads, which are (1) anthropological, and what he defines as (2) kingdom principles. I have known Sherwood for 20 years and he was the chair for my doctoral studies at Biola, so I’m familiar with his style and intent.

In this book the two major concepts I gleaned was the discussion of default culture and his definition of the differences between managing and leading. In the mission world, one of the weaknesses in ministry is that, using power and authority, missionaries tend to manage rather than lead. Sherwood ‘s concept of responsible-for versus responsible-to is an important distinction that every missionary would do well to learn.

The book is primarily for those of us who work with multicultural teams; how people from culture A interacts with people from culture B, C and D. Most leadership books are slanted to principles and practices from the West, essentially ignoring leadership styles of non-Western cultures. Missionaries are dismayed when their foreign colleagues fall back to their default cultural way of doing things. Sherwood is more generous with case studies in this book and through illustrations helps solve the problem, not just stating the obvious. Ironically, my article "How Cultures Work: A Roadmap for Intercultural Understanding in the Workplace" was published in the latest issue of the Evangelical Missions Quarterly this week. Sherwood’s book confirmed some of my own understanding on how to solve problems working with multicultural teams. Get a copy of Lingelter’s book as I think it has some keen insights for those who serve cross-culturally.