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Saturday, June 9, 2018

“The Power of Courageous Leadership”: Laughable Moments in Bob Malm’s Sermon

In a recent sermon, Bob Malm apparently attempts to manage perceptions of his lack of leadership and management skills by telling parishioners that he is reading Nancy Koehn’s book, “Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times.” That’s pretty funny, actually, as Koehn’s key messages illustrate just how dismal Bob’s performance as rector really is.

Consider Koehn’s comments during a recent Harvard business school inteview (emphasis added):

Gerdeman: You say in the book that we live in a moment when our collective faith in government, business, and religion is waning. Do you think people have a growing concern that we’re experiencing a void in great leadership? 
Koehn: There’s no question we have a leadership vacuum here. It’s not confined to the executive wing. It’s also in Congress and across the political spectrum. 
This void is partly a result of the lapses of integrity and judgment and decency that contributed to the financial crisis of 2008—and regrettably, many of these lapses were never made right, just as many of the people responsible for them were not held accountable. And this lowered standards for people in power in a range of organizations. 
At the same time, we voters have become seduced by what I call “leadership bling”: by who’s on the red carpet, who got rich quick, by who seems sexy and full of charisma and decisiveness. All this interest in celebrity and wealth has kept us from focusing on what really matters in the people we elect and follow and that is people of strong and decent character, people who want to serve others and advance the collective good. 
Given that the one constant during Bob’s time as rector has been his pursuit of his own needs, and his indifference to the interests of the parish, that’s pretty rich. Or, as Bob once responded when I expressed concern about parish leaders leaving due to unhappiness with Bob, “Why should I give a f***? People transfer all the time.”
In another part of the interview, Koehn discusses Shackleford, the great explorer of the Antarctic and his ability to foster teamwork:
Without Shackleton’s ability to foster cohesion among his team, those folks wouldn’t have survived. It started with how he selected people for his team. He hired for attitude and trained for skill. 
Yet Bob appears to select people based on their loyalty to him, He then provides no training, and he almost entirely ignores organizational dynamics. 
In short, Bob is the very antithesis of the leadership skills Koehn identifies. Yes, he may pull in some buzzwords that he uses to sound good in the future, but the reality is he has zero interest in being a principled, successful leader. Nor does Bob reflect God’s love. He merely uses the words to pursue self-love. And if history is any indicator, Bob will talk loudly and try to sound confident, but at the end of the day he’ll still be a bully who picks on people like Mike who are not in a position to fight back. 
That is not courageous leadership.