Leading by Example

By Paul Gutteridge

Paul Gutteridge

We’ve all heard of ‘leading by example’; its pretty easy to say, but most still struggle with following through. However, today leading by example carries more weight. Scandals are reported instantly, and pundits speak endlessly about how our leaders are failing us as a society. It makes you wonder – whose lead are they following? What are their morals? What guides them?

More and more people are protesting and calling for change as leadership fails to embrace integrity. COVID-19 has thrown a spotlight on all our many weaknesses. But most of all it has challenged our belief in change; the deepest held fear is that there will be no real change. Or, that there will be just enough change to placate the general population without addressing the systemic changes that are at the root of fear, anxiety and injustice in our world.

I believe that this is a moment where Initiatives of Change UK – with its roots in faith and moral standards can step up and serve. This faith is not rooted in a dogmatic notion of exclusivity but of generosity and authenticity. We do not pretend to know the all the answers, or seek to impose faith on others, but to serve every human in equal measure. Yet, some look at faith with just as much skepticism as other societal institutions. Trusting in faith has come to be old-fashioned and the opposite of progressive – but is that really the case or is it simply the fear talking ?

We may understand faith and spirituality in different ways, but we all agree that the absolute standards – our moral code – of honesty, unselfishness, love, and purity are the way we live out our faith and spirituality. This is not an old and stuffy way to engage life. No – it is vital and vibrant and creates a vision of a world where individuals and institutions can flourish in distinct ways, as these standards are lived out in a multitude of settings.

As National Director, I am completely open about the important connection between faith and leadership. I think that Initiatives of Change UK can serve our world from the position that we have something to offer to everyone who is afraid and wants to see real change, positive change, happen in their lives and in our world. We come from a place of humility as we accompany others, believing that we each have a role to play in restoring trust in faith and leadership.

What practical things can we do as we engage with others in whatever context we find ourselves in? I want to suggest three steps – as we take one step to focus and deliver on change.

  1. To be absolutely honest. I get asked my opinion on all sorts of things in response to world events. To say that I honestly don’t know enough or know the answer to comment on many of these issues is not weakness but truth. I can be honest enough to say that I want to accompany those who may know or have solutions. I am honest enough to say that I am have been part of the problem (if I have been) and want to own up and become part of the solution – regardless of the cost.
  2. To understand ‘currency.’ If I want to be part of the solution in a practical way, then I will take practical steps. This will cost something – time, resources, commitment – even reputation, as we seek to give of ourselves for something bigger than ourselves. This is something that is at the heart of our great faith and spiritual traditions and part of many powerful social justice movements through the ages.
  3. To touch the ‘margins.’ If I genuinely want to understand, make the best decisions on where and how to accompany, develop policy, or projects, I need to go to where the need is felt. This will be challenging, uncomfortable, and enlightening. If we do not allow ourselves this discomfort, then we are in danger of doing things to people and not with people.

And finally,
I want us to be known as people who are part of the change, not resistant to change. We are called to remake the world – one pledge, one step, one person – one act of honesty, unselfishness, love, and purity at a time.

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