Re-envisioning the work of leadership: Decemeber 2017 e-news
In their newly published book Teaching and Christian Imagination, authors David I. Smith and Susan M. Felch present a common image that satirically exposes the limitations of mechanical knowledge acquisition.1 In Europe – particularly in Germany – the image is called the Nuremberg Funnel.
Imagine a funnel stuck into someone’s head. Through it, a teacher stuffs all manner of knowledge so that the knowledge is passively received into the person’s brain. The image is humorous; it points out the severe limitations connected with thinking that somehow knowledge can be acquired by some sort of cognitive download.
The same can be said for leadership.
Certainly there is much to learn. Books are valuable and conferences inspire us. But the healthy practice of leadership is actually rooted in something else altogether. Learning about leadership and practicing leadership are two different things. Maybe you can recall the scene in the film The Matrix, in which the protagonist Neo asks Trinity about whether she can pilot a helicopter. She replies, “Not yet,” but in a few seconds the pilot training manual is loaded into her brain. She is now ready to fly. It may make for good fiction, but piloting a helicopter requires more than knowledge. It requires practice, coaching and the acquisition of skills.