Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I've Got Your Back by James C. Galvin

The essence of leadership is helping others follow well,” Galvin writes (110) Learning to follow well is essential to leading well so that is what Galvin concentrates on.

He begins with story, a parable. Stories are powerful and, besides, Jesus used them. Jack is a retired army and ex-missionary who coaches four young professionals who are stuck. Randall is a college graduate working in the produce section of a market. Valerie has a marketing degree but is in a job with no possible advancement. Brad is in youth ministry and does not want to move up to director like the board is requesting. Lynn is in medical billing but her boss is not at all helpful.

We follow the four as they try to put into practice the teaching Jack gives them weekly. He asks them to become good followers, even if dealing with bad bosses and bad leaders. He helps them learn how to work with flawed people, how to help them lead better. They learn how their past experiences formed their mental model of leadership. “'We tend to lead the way we have been led unless we reflect deeply on our experience, become aware of our actions, and develop our unique potential,' said Jack.” (52-53) They learn about character and competence, REAL followership (Responsible, Ethical, Authentic, Loving), the three types of followership (God, parents/government, other humans), and how to slay the fear dragon.

Galvin follows with a theology of leadership section, explaining the principles revealed in the story. He reminds us that leadership is God's idea but it has been corrupted by the Fall. We are imperfect people leading imperfect followers. He explores leadership as the interaction between leaders and followers, giving biblical insights on both.

This book is for everyone, not just leaders. We are all leaders and followers in some way. I was amazed at the amount of insight in this book. Reading about the three types of followership answered so many of my questions! It addresses issues about submitting to those who have (or claim to have) spiritual authority over you. Galvin also clarified what true servant leadership is and he addresses leadership abuse.

(One area Galvin did not cover in this book is leading and following in the home, the husband/wife relationship. He did not clarify which type of followership, I, II, or III, that relationship would fall under.)

I highly recommend this book! Having been a ministry leader as well as serving on church and private school boards, I have read many books on leadership. I have never read one like this. I have never understood so much about the relationship between leading and following. I have never had so many of my own leading and following experiences explained.

Galvin has included discussion questions divided into eight sessions. This would be a great book for church or other nonprofit boards to read and discuss. And it would be a great book for you to read, just because you lead or follow someone.

I can see that there might be two issues that would make pastors a little uncomfortable with this book. Galvin places pastoral leadership under Type III, where followership is optional. (He does distinguish between preaching God's Word, which is under following God, and ministry leadership, which is under following humans.) Another issue is the suggestion (by a fictional character) that career ministry people give as many hours of volunteer work as they ask of their laypeople. (After evening church board meetings, we laypeople would all have to go to work the next morning, but the pastor would not come into his office until noon – because he'd had a meeting the night before.)

James C. Galvin is an organizational consultant specializing in strategic facilitation for a wide variety of organizations. He has completed successful
projects for a number of Christian organizations and publishers. He is an award-winning author and has written products published by several major Christian publishers. He was co-creator of the acclaimed Life Application Study Bible. He has a doctorate from Northern Illinois University and degrees from Wheaton College. He and his wife have two adult children and live in Elgin, Illinois.

TenthPowerPublishing, 204 pages. Publisher product page.
You can buy the book here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Handlebar publicity group for the purpose of this review.

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