LeadingLDS: You mentioned in your BYU devotional, "the moment
of transition or boundaries are moments that define leaders." Can you expound on
that a little bit as far as transitions go with leadership?
Yeah, this is something that I have noticed and it has come from my own
research even though I am not the first person to focus on the importance of
transitions. These can be transitions like the beginning and the ending of a
meeting. These can be transitions that are life transitions like when a young man
or a young women graduates from one class to another like going from a deacon
to being a teacher. They can be transitions such as when a calling is extended
and accepted and there is a setting apart. All of these kinds of transitions
are important for leaders. Leaders have to be very careful about how they
facilitate the transition. The reason transitions are so important is that
during transitional moments we do what is called identity work. This is a
little more technical than what I got into in my talk but identity work is we
behave in ways that define who we are relative to one another. So I mean such
things as relative status. Who is more important? Who has more authority? Who
is in charge relative to other people? We manage relative status, and when I
say we manage it through subtle ways of behaving through our behaviors we
subtle establish for one another who is in charge—who is to be respect—who is
to be acknowledged and listened to. Another definition of identity is our
social distance or closeness. So how close are we? Are we intimate? Are we
friends? Or on the other hand are we just kind of co-workers and acquaintances?
I think a lot of times we make the assumption that we begin as individuals and
that we come together to form groups. I think arguably it is the other way
around. I think our sense of who we are as individuals is something that comes
through our association with each other. Individuality is a product of group
interaction and so when we go to church and when we attend Teachers quorum or
Beehives class or Relief Society or Primary we are engaged in a process that
unavoidably helps define who we are in this world. Because who we are is always
relative to who we are in relation to one another.
During transitional moments identity work goes on and
leaders have to be very careful that they manage those transitions well so that
people receive the kind of messages that leaders want them to receive.
these moments of transition are opportunities for leaders to maybe point out
the individual but also help the individual define who they are? Am I
understanding it right?
Right, yeah, Whenever we’re go into a new situation. When ever people
come together in a room they have to show one another what they are doing. They
have to answer the question who are we? Who are we in relation to one another?
And what is our work? And they have to answer those question, those questions
are like hanging in the air. So transitions are a way for leaders to answer
those questions maybe even explicitly but unavoidable they do it subtly. And
they need to be thoughtful about what they want those answers to be. With a
young man that is being ordained to a priesthood office it is a wonderful
opportunity to answer those questions in relation to that young man which is to
talk about their infinite worth, to talk about the goodness in their lives that
has allowed them to accept a new position in the Aaronic priesthood and so
forth. It’s an opportunity to celebrate that and to state it explicitly and
unavoidably they do it subtly.
LeadingLDS: So in
that situation not only does that young man learn more about himself but he
learns that his bishop is somebody who is inspired and cares about him.
Yeah, I mean it goes in all directions. Not only is it an opportunity for the
young man to learn of the bishop’s concern and love for him but it is an
opportunity for others in the room to witness that and to see that love from
the bishop to the young man and that is kind of a public pronouncement of sorts.
It makes that information public for everyone to see. When we raise our hand to
support or sustain someone in a calling we can follow the bishop’s example as
we see the bishop support that person and sustain them.