Halfway up the stairs: a glimpse of the creative, liminal space and the liminal leaders who function there, with particular reference to Christian mission
Miriam Adeney (2011, p.7) states that the leaders we need today are liminal, polycentric and hyphenated. This research investigates why such leaders are effective.
We draw on three broad disciplines: the liminality of Bhabha, Gilroy and other postcolonial writers, the missiology of Newbigin, Walls and other theologians, and leadership theory as found in Complex Responsive Processes, Systems Intelligence and Ladkin’s (2010) ‘leadership moment’.
These insights are examined through semi-formal interviews with 12 missional leaders who have a liminal (trans-national, cross-cultural, multilingual) identity, where we discover key strengths derived from that liminal identity, including an appreciation of the value of differences and a focus on the person.
We affirm Adeney’s three key terms in the light of insights from postcolonialism, missiology, leadership studies, the 12 interviewees and reflections on my own experience. We see that what the world needs today is leaders who exhibit these characteristics. They are polycentric, that is, truly global, recognising the importance of localisation. They are hyphenated, interconnecting diversity, their very identity making them a bridge. They are liminal, thriving in the in-between space.
Two practical applications given are the need for partnerships, and communities of leaders. At all levels – individuals, organisations and nations – the way forward is found in coming together. The liminal space, characterised by commingling and creativity, is where this happens.
Adeney, M. (2011) ‘Colorful Initiatives: North American Diaspora in Mission’, Missiology. An International Review, Vol XXXIX, no1, January 2011.
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