Leading with Anabaptist Values
Valued Leadership: Leading with Anabaptist Values is an online leadership development resource highlighting the unique gifts Anabaptism offers organizations and leaders. It is sponsored by MHS with its 75 member organizations in mind but we hope it can inspire reflective thought more broadly within the Anabaptist-related world and beyond.
Why the title Valued Leadership? Because the healthiest people and the healthiest organizations live their values. And while an individual’s deepest values may emerge from a process of internal personal reflection, for a group of people working together, identifying core values requires dialogue, keen observation, and an awareness of “where we’ve come from” and “where we’re going.” A skilled leader guides an organization on that journey.
Valued Leadership is an intentional play on words. It points out that great leaders are valuable and should be highly valued within an organization. We value leaders and leadership!
Valued Leadership also highlights that core values – articulated, embraced, and made visible in everyday organizational life – are an important foundation for skilled leadership. A leader who consistently demonstrates an organization’s values engenders trust. Trust is the currency of proactive collaboration, a key to successfully meeting one’s mission.
Why the 4Cs?
The 4Cs of Valued Leadership (Character, Collaboration, Culture, and Change) are an effort to empower leaders in Anabaptist-related organizations to grapple with the gifts and blind spots delivered by a unique founding heritage. Each topic provides a relevant link between values that animated Anabaptist movements and everyday decision-making and leadership in today’s organizational context.
The 4Cs in brief:
- Character is foundational to leading with integrity and is just as important as having the right competencies. Anabaptists are convinced that one’s character is made visible in one’s attitudes and actions. Being aware of and clear about one’s call and commitments is central to effective leadership for Anabaptists. And Anabaptists assume that one’s character can develop and mature.
- Collaboration seems simple in theory, but is often difficult in practice. An Anabaptist approach to collaboration asks leaders to welcome community wisdom into the decision-making process and to continually consider how joining with others may be more effective than going alone.
- Culture refers to commonly-held understandings of who we are and how we interact with one another. An Anabaptist ideal is to create strong and healthy cultures that help people from a variety of experiences feel part of something bigger and more enduring.
- Change is necessary for health and life. It offers incredible opportunity and always involves a degree of risk. Anabaptism was born in a time of intense societal change, and Anabaptists became a “movement” because they called for even more change than was happening around them. How can we encourage more truth, kindness, justice, and beauty?
First, the purpose of Valued Leadership is not to convert persons to Anabaptism. It is to inform and offer a perspective, not invite conversion. If someone is interested in becoming an Anabaptist they would be warmly welcomed, but that is not the purpose of the website.
Second, there have been lots of different types of Anabaptists over the past 500 years, and currently from around the globe, who believe and practice very differently. Valued Leadership attempts to focus on what most would agree are core convictions held by many, but not all, Anabaptists. If you have met one Anabaptist, you have met one Anabaptist.
Third, Valued Leadership highlights Anabaptist distinctives. In highlighting distinctives it is also helpful to remember that Anabaptists are part of the larger family of Christians and have many similar beliefs and practices as other Christian groups.
Fourth, Anabaptists are not perfect! This is apparent to anyone who has spent time with Anabaptists. It is clear that Anabaptists have messed up, been inconsistent, and been wrong. Valued Leadership highlights some of the positive aspects of Anabaptism, but it is also clear that Anabaptists don’t always walk the talk. To that end we have included a section in each of the 4C pages titled “Potential Pitfalls.”
Financial support to create Valued Leadership was provided by grants from the Friends Foundation for the Aging and the MHS Grant Program.