Comment by Harborough churches: Humble yet strong role models are just the sort of leadership our world needs

Every week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week, it is the turn of Tim Jeffery, CEO of Torch Trust, which is based in Market Harborough

By Tim Jeffery
Monday, 4th April 2022, 10:31 am
Tim Jeffery
Tim Jeffery

Over recent weeks I have delved deeper and more often into the news, be it the paper, radio, TV, social media or a website. I have felt compelled to keep up with the tragic and utterly shocking events unfolding in Ukraine, and not give in to the temptation to look away or try to blank it out.

Something in the news caught my eye and caused me to reflect about leaders and different styles of leadership. Ukraine’s President Zelensky was quoted encouraging Ukrainians not to put pictures of him in their homes or workplaces, but instead to have photos of their families and loved ones.

Having spent many years in Africa and developing countries, I have often seen a picture of their president in every office – sometimes it’s a mandatory requirement. What a contrast! I am reminded too of the quite bizarre calendars produced in Russia every year, showing President Putin in various macho poses with guns, or bare-chested undertaking some daring activity.

One of the biggest dilemmas facing the world is what type of leaders we want. I think of pictures of Putin sitting at one end of a vast table or set apart from others and contrast this with Zelensky, mingling with and encouraging fellow Ukrainians. Putin seems to be a glaring example of a leadership that is isolated from the realities of everyday life and the human consequences of his decisions. Isolated too from opinions different to his own, creating fear amongst everyone around him who might challenge his self-serving narrative.

What is it that makes some leaders want to be almost hero-worshipped, adored and isolated from anything that doesn’t fit their way of seeing the world, and others to be self-effacing, open, and humble? But as I point one finger out at such easy targets as Putin, I find four more pointing back at me. If leadership is fundamentally about having an influence, how do I come across? How do you? How open are we to listen to opinions or hear life experiences different from our own, to be challenged by uncomfortable truths?

As we approach Easter, I am reminded of a man who has had a greater influence than any other in human history: Jesus. On Good Friday we remember the shocking spectacle of this caring, loving man being tortured to death and forgiving his persecutors. In his short active life he practised what he preached. He had time for everyone, especially those who other people looked down on, including impoverished and disabled people. He risked the ire of the purists by ministering equally to people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

And even as he died in agony he thought of others by forgiving his captors for their short-sighted actions.

It seems to me that this humble yet strong role model demonstrates just the sort of leadership our broken world needs more of.

Tim Jeffery is CEO, Torch Trust, which is based in Market Harborough