Leadership Approaches – Corporate Culture, Learning Organization

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SENGE, Corporate Culture, Learning Organization

Part of the ministry resources on Christian Leadership, Empowerment, and Transformational Leadership. See also a related ministry resources on Church Identity / Culture.


An important part of missional leadership is shaping the corporate culture of a group or congregation. This is not “culture” in the sense of societal structures, socio-economic and ethnic groupings, etc. Rather it describes the “personality” or default patterns that become ingrained in an organization over time. This is important enough that one author says,

“Culture-not vision or strategy-is the most powerful factor in any organization. It determines the receptivity of staff and volunteers to new ideas, unleashes or dampens creativity, builds or erodes enthusiasm, and creates a sense of pride or deep discouragement about working or being involved there. Ultimately, the culture of a church shapes individual morale, teamwork, effectiveness, and outcomes.” (Chand, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code)

When it comes to intentional Church Leadership and Renewal, culture trumps everything. It is closely related to another concept, Church Identity.

Culture Creation as Transformational and Empowering

Leadership and culture creation echoes the importance at least two of the four key competencies of transformative leadership. The first is “intellectual stimulation,” that leaders stimulate their followers to innovate and create by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways. The second is “individualized consideration,” that involves the creation of new learning opportunities in a supportive, encouraging climate where leaders welcome exchange. (Bass, Transformational Leadership)

A similar idea is found in the research on empowering leadership as articulated by Max De Pree, Warren Bennis, Burt Nanus, James Kouzes, Barry Pozner, and others. De Pree calls this “defining reality,” which includes being hospitable to the unusual person and unusual ideas. This leads to “organizational renewal.” Bennis and Nanus list emphasize “creating social architecture,” “strong determination,” and “enrolling people in a vision.” Kouzes and Posner call it “challenging the process by confronting and changing the status quo.”

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