Four questions to ask of the Green Review at Synod.

I’ve enjoyed Mike Higton’s blogs on the Green Review. I appreciate his analysis of the text and, the reconciliatory tone he adopts. I agree with the majority of what he says and, I hope Synod take on board his critique.

I have read, and re-read, the report and still find it difficult to accept that its recommendations can do anything other than damage the common good. My starting point has always been that the recommendations are an extension of the authors subjective biases and assumptions.

Below are four sets of questions which I hope might be useful when debating the report at Synod next week:

  1. Are the recommendations in the Green Report characteristic of the subjective biases of the authors; biases born out of their own experience? I believe that they are (obviously!). The language used in the report ‘cadre’ of talented leaders, ‘absolute’ performance standards and so forth are a pretty good clue as to the authors own preconceptions. It’s all a bit individualistic and stereotypically alpha (male).
  2. Is it in fact realistic to suggest that leadership talent is easily identifiable in advance of situations in which real leadership is required? Could it just be that leadership often emerges over time, and certainly not within an artificial, five year, development schedule? Do we, the Church, run the risk of underestimating the benefit of ‘failure.’ Thank God ‘we’ didn’t, post Gallipoli, entirely give up on Churchill. Pope Francis also took his time getting to the ‘top’, after a succession of early ‘career’ failures.’ Do our current leaders have a vested interest in clinging onto an approach that suggests that leadership can be identified, trained and deployed (successfully), as opposed to allowing leadership to be that which may emerge over time, in context?
  3. The report suggests that the elite cadre of leaders can be most usefully deployed in Cathedrals and large Churches. Why? Surely, leadership is more frequently (not exclusively) strenuously tested in the resource poor peripheries (where transformation normally takes place) than in the resource rich centre? If this is the case where should the Church be ‘placing its bets?’
  4. Is a business school style of training really appropriate? As you may know I have strong views on this! Business Schools do not offer a general education in management, they provide a specific training in business management and, the difference between the two is real and significant. We should also bear in mind that several academics and reflective practitioners suggest that MBA style training undermines real leadership (see my previous blog) and that business schools have been heavily criticised for undermining economic and social well-being.  Returning to my first question – does the style of training and the partners proposed to help train the elite cadre of leaders simply reflect the authors background and, the system of which they have been beneficiaries?

Mike Higton signed off his last offering with ‘I’m all done blogging on the Green Review now.’ Me too!

The last few months have been interesting and,in many ways, painful. I thought I had left management, leadership and related subjects behind when I became a ‘clerk in Holy orders.’ But, maybe our past always catches up with us? It is uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable, to criticise the institution you both love and serve. Prayers for synod next week.


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