I came across Peter Koestenbaum in an interview in the business magazine FAST COMPANY in 2000. He is a philosopher who helps business leaders to be successful human beings. He was a professor in the Philosophy Department at San Jose State University for thirty-four years and has consulted with many large international companies. I have benefited from several of his books, and recently started reading the new and revised edition of Leadership: the inner side of Greatness, a philosophy for leaders.
In the Preface he writes that “A leader must wrestle with inward issues. He or she is expected to have great aspirations, confront great frustrations, achieve great self-control, suffer great betrayals, and manifest great compassion. Addressing the personal side of leadership also requires attention to vision and to scope, for the leader’s mind must be all-encompassing. The executive is challenged always to keep his or her inner eye on the larger picture and to find ways of reacting quickly. The personal side of leadership requires attention to such varied virtues as resourcefulness and trust, confidence and strength. It means learning the uses of power and developing a flexible imagination. The personal side of leadership challenges you to give meaning to your life through the quality of your work – how you manage your career or job, and how you invest your time and energy. The personal side of leadership also recognizes that deep thoughts and clever ideas are not enough. Executives must remind themselves that they are measured by cold effectiveness and hard results, for leadership is tied to survival.”
In his chapter on the Nine Keys to Business Wisdom, and remember that all enterprises are businesses, whether they are families, churches, charities, missions, ministries, or other non-profits, as well as for-profit businesses, Koestenbaum addresses the frustrations of leadership. “Leaders can be targets of severe hostility – not that it is never deserved; sometimes it is. Nevertheless the anger of others is difficult to bear….Specifically, leading requires ownership of the meaning of personal responsibility and accountability. It means fully internalizing the human truth that, in your world, nothing happens unless you make it happen….Leadership requires teamwork….Specifically, a leader is a person who is truly effective in achieving worthy results in any field, not matter what the obstacles and with unfailing regard for human beings. A leader is a person of unimpeachable character, an individual thoroughly to be trusted. Leaders are open-minded – good listeners, flexible, secure in the knowledge that they alone do not have all the answers….Leaders lead by teaching, that is, empowering, and what they teach is how to attain a different, uncommon, but highly specific form of intelligence…you must model leadership.”
I am beginning a series of messages on Second Timothy, which is all about leadership. St. Paul is modeling leadership to Timothy and teaching him the requirements of leadership in the church. I learned leadership from my first boss, colleague, mentor, and later friend, John Stott, who will be 89 years of age on April 27. Every year since I served with him at All Souls, Langham Place, London, England, I have drawn on his example and his writing to hone my leadership skills. A new biography on him has just been published entitled, Basic Christian, by Roger Steer. I was interviewed for part of it and paid tribute to what John Stott taught me about the craft of pastoral ministry, and of being personally accountable. If you have not read any books by John Stott I recommend them all. His commentary on Second Timothy, Guard the Gospel, is invaluable.