In my last two blog posts, I talked about Vertical Leadership, the traditional model that creates leaders and followers, and Horizontal Leadership, a collaborative style of leadership that seeks to foster communication and collaboration.
Now, let’s talk about Overflow Leadership and how we define it at the Leadership Institute. Our mission captures well the heartbeat of Overflow Leadership:
To inspire generations of leaders who listen to God, follow Jesus’ rhythms of life and lead from the overflow.
I think the best way to get at the heart of Overflow Leadership, our focus for today, is to continue looking through these three prisms (Vertical, Horizontal and Overflow) in a few key organizational areas.
Vertical Leadership: The structure is an inverted funnel structure and organizational life is drawn from the leader.
Horizontal Leadership: The structure is networked, much like the cellular structure and organizational life is drawn from within and is self-contained.
Overflow Leadership: The structure is networked, but instead of being self-contained, is much more like a cluster of grapes, where organizational life is drawn from collective and individual communication with, and reliance on, God.
Vertical Leadership: Power flows from the top to those in the bottom of the structure in a dissipating fashion.
Horizontal Leadership: Power is shared in collaboration and consensus.
Overflow Leadership: Power is given away freely through service and flows cascadingly outward, increasing in strength.
A few notes about power are appropriate here…
Most leaders face the temptation to clothe themselves with power to hide the emptiness inside. They seek twin goals of accomplishment and recognition to fill them and give orders to others to achieve these goals.
Overflow leaders, through their primary posture of listening to God, acknowledge their emptiness and desire for significance. But, they seek to be filled by living water instead in order to give it away to others to achieve God’s goals.
Acquired power is always about the emptiness inside. Given-away power is always about the fullness inside.
Vertical Leadership: Vision flows from the leader.
Horizontal Leadership: Vision flows from the team through collaboration and consensus.
Overflow Leadership: The leader seeks to listen to God personally and also listens to the heartbeat of God beating in his people and understands that one of the best places to identify what God may be up to is in God’s people! The vision flows from God through people.
Vertical Leadership: The leader desires compliance as much as unity even if a desire for unity is articulated. Unity is certainly not required for action to take place.
Horizontal Leadership: The leaders collaborate and usually do not proceed unless unity emerges. Unity emerges from trust.
Overflow Leadership: Unity flows from union with Christ and is expected as a consequence.
Look again at The Leadership Institute’s mission and you’ll see three words full of divine energy for leaders and the organizations they lead:
In Overflow Leadership, organizational life is drawn from God. It is not created from a leader or a team; it is not self-contained. The very structure of the organization is that of trust and unhurried reliance on God. Direction is discerned through this listening posture. A good leader recognizes that God scatters glimpses of His plans throughout the people of the organization.
Overflow Leadership begins with listening.
By following Jesus’ rhythms of life, Overflow Leadership finds power emanating outwardly through the organization in cascading strength. By modeling Jesus’ rhythms of life, we find leaders not so much trying to move people from point A to point B as much as feeding those they lead while they are on their journey from point A to point B. They tell their people where to find the manna along the way trusting the manna will provide the fuel to get there.
Overflow Leadership follows Jesus’ rhythms of life.
An Overflow leader adopts Jesus’ servant lifestyle in the way they lead, leading from fullness, not trying to fill emptiness.
An Overflow Leader seeks to lead from the overflow of abiding and listening to Jesus, which spills into serving those they lead, which produces an overflowing organization.
Overflow Leadership leads from the overflow.
As I said in my last blog post, I think all of us have some built-in desires to be personally significant and to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
As an Overflow Leader finds just how significant she is by abiding in the cosmic-bigger-than-herself Christ and models this in the way she leads, an organizational structure will follow that finds itself tethered to a source of life beyond, and bigger, than itself.
How have the organizational structures you have been a part helped you to feel significant or part of something bigger than yourself? Let us know in the comments or by dropping us an email!