Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Psychology of Leadership I: Looking at the Research

Here is the information for my upcoming webinars, "The Psychology of Leadership I: Looking at the Research"  (Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 2:00 PM CDT/ 3:00PM EDT/7:00 PM GMT) and "Psychology of Leadership II: Applying the Research to the Parish" (Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 2:00 PM CDT/ 3:00PM EDT/7:00 PM GMT).  The  event is sponsored by the Diocese of the Midwest of the Orthodox Church in America.

A couple of things to note. I'll be doing live PowerPoint presentations both days.  While participants will be able to ask questions and make comments via instant messaging, you will not be able to speak directly to or IM the other  participants.  Most users who have computers equipped with speakers and running some version of Windows, Linux or Mac OS and running IE, Firefox, or Safari should have no trouble. 

I have reproduced below information about the webinar's from the Parish Health Ministry web page.

Look forward to meeting some of you online next week!

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory


When we say that someone is "a strong leader" we often mean that we see in the person particular skills (e.g., being a good communicator, or a good organizer) or personality traits (e.g., forceful and directive) that we value.  Just as frequently, we evaluate another as a "weak leader" because of the perceived absence of these valued skills and traits or the presence of skills and talents we don't value.   In either case, we tend to think of leadership in very abstract terms and without reference to the whole social and organizational context within which the person functions in a leadership role.

Recent empirical research into the psychology of leadership, however, argues that context is a key element in understanding leadership.  Leadership, it is argued, emerges from social situations and what is effective style of leadership in one context might be harmful in another.

Organizationally, any individual is a leader only within the context of personal and administrative relationships.  Being a leader implies not only the presence of followers, but also that one is interacting with those who are peers/colleagues and supervisors.  Among other things, how I evaluate an individual as a leader depends on my organizational relationship with that person and in the community.

For example, in looking at the priest as the leader of a parish what relationship do we see?  Most immediately the priest relates on a daily basis with parishioners (i.e., "followers").  But he also relates to his brother clergy ("peers" and/or "colleagues", and his bishop ("supervisor").  All of these people are reasonably concerned with different skills, personality traits and outcomes.  For this reason the standard for what makes a successful leader is not necessarily a shared standard.  It is more accurate to say that in the Church (as with any other human community, religious or secular), there are multiple standards and outcomes that serve as the standards by which we determine who is, and who isn't an effective leader.  While these standards and outcomes are often complimentary, they are not necessarily so.  Sometimes they are unrelated, but they may also be contradictory and even mutually exclusive.

In this, the first of two webinars, we will look together at lay and clerical leadership within, and for, the parish in light of the current psychology research.  We will begin by brief summarizing this research on the psychology of leadership and followership.  What we will see is that leaders not only need followers, in a different context a leader can be, and often is, also a follower. 
We will conclude by looking at two dysfunctional of parish organization:  collusion and competition.  We will see that not only are these self-defeating forms of parish administration they are contrary to the biblical witness of the Church as "one body with many members"

Rev. Fr. Gregory Jensen, Ph.D. Priest-in-charge, Holy Assumption Orthodox Church (OCA), Canton, OH.

A native Texan, after finishing his doctorate in counseling, ministry and spirituality at Duquesne University's Institute of Formative Spirituality in 1995, Fr. Gregory was ordained to the holy priesthood 1996.  Together with his wife Mary he served for 7 years as missionary in rural northern California where he also taught psychology and served as a consultant and trainer for area social service agencies. From 2003-2007, he was the Orthodox chaplain for the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. 

A psychologist by profession, his research focuses on the relationship between classical and contemporary psychology theories of personality and Christian spirituality.   His conference and published work focus on theoretical and applied issues in clinical and developmental psychologies, pastoral theology, and Christian spirituality.  An avid blogger he maintains the blog Koinonia (, is active in the Youngstown, OH chapter of the Society St John Chrysostom (an ecumenical group devoted to Catholic/ Orthodox reconciliation) and is a frequent speaker at retreats.

Learning Objectives

1. Participants will be introduced to the current social psychological research on leadership and followership.
2. Participants will have a better understanding of the different facets of lay and clerical parish leadership.
3. Participants will come to understand why effective leadership within the parish must take into account the role of the parish in the deanery, the diocese and the national Church.
4. While not directly concerned with outreach and evangelism, religious education, the philanthropic ministry of the parish, or stewardship, this webinar offers the parish a more effective, empirically based, foundation for the planning and implementation of these and other critical parish ministries and programs.

The Details

  • Date: Tuesday, March 24/31 2009
  • Time: 2:00 PM CDT/ 3:00PM EDT/7:00 PM GMT
  • Registration: Click here for Part I and here for Part
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