Book Review

Dynamic Discernment – Reason, Emotion and Power in Change Leadership                      by Sarah B. Drummond

As an Intentional Interim Minister, I am always looking to add to my library books and other material that will enhance my ministry. One phrase in the introduction had an immediate impact, “I was taught to assume that those I would lead are reasonable people.” Those of us in ministry quickly find out that this is not the case.

Key phrases from each of the chapters:
1. How We Think About Change – “Emotional systems respond best to leaders who are able to connect to the community without enmeshed in it. (Page 20)
2. Reason –  “Seeing the community through a lens of love.” (Page 43)
3. Emotion – “Unaddressed problems do not go away just because the individual moves on.” (Page 94)
4. Power – “Power will seek to maintain the status quo.” Page 135
5. Discernment on the Leadership Terrain – “It is possible, and in effect necessary, to grieve the old and start the new while negotiating the change.” (Page 159)

In many ways, this book captures much of current change management theory in one book. It provides a good overview of Family Systems Theory along with case studies. The author reminds us that the best leaders are those that are connected to the system, but do not become enmeshed in it.

One of the key segments in the book is where the author writes about how Ronald Heifetz speaks about tweaking a system, comparing it to the changes that come about by changing one gene is a DNA sequence. That we have underestimated the power of small changes.

This book belongs on the shelves of those who are seeking to effect change in healthy ways, it is grounded in the liberation from oppression that is Jesus Christ. My one critique is that I am not sure that some of the language and references would be easily accessible for lay people and those not already steeped in change leadership.

Full disclosure: I received a copy of the book at no charge in exchange for reviewing it.

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