Resourceful Enough:Leadership in ScarcityOr, how to be resourceful when resources are in short supply
Shantung Compound December 1944• 1450 Prisoners• 200 Americans• 1550 Red Cross Parcels
How to allocate scarce resources?• 1 box to each prisoner, with an extra half box to each American?• 7.5 boxes to each American?• Nothing?
The outcome• Blessing or curse?• 1 box per prisoner, including the Americans• The rest are sent to another camp
“For even saintly folk will act like sinnersUnless they have their customary dinners.” --Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera
Challenges of Scarcity1. The received heritage is ambiguous.2. External expectations are frustrating.3. Limitations are real. They keep us from carrying out many good ideas.4. The pace of change is different.5. Scarcity impacts staff.
Challenges of Scarcity6. Urgent tasks force leaders to “work down.”7. Multiple, overwhelming needs demand incredible, sustained focus--triage. Two competing meanings: • Attend to those with the gravest need first? • Or, attend to those with the best chance to survive, leaving those with gravest need to die?
Challenges of Scarcity8. Cultural perceptions of success--mixed with a dose of healthy questioning—erode our sense that we are doing good work.9. Learning from our mistakes can be risky.10. These things lead to early morning panics.
Gifts of Scarcity1. Crisis can be clarifying.2. Scarcity makes it harder to live in denial.3. Scarcity forces us from sloppiness and laziness.4. The demands are many and varied, and they call upon us to use our gifts more fully.
Gifts of Scarcity5. The triage we are forced to practice is a form of discernment. Discernment is a way to wisdom.6. Scarcity brings us closer to the front lines of being human.7. Vulnerability is closer to our real situation before God. We aren’t going to save the world—so do what you can.
Leading In Scarcity1. In situations of scarcity, the most precious communal resource is trust. Trust is the currency of leadership. How is trust built? • Competence: meeting expectations • Honesty • Love • = Integrity
Leading In Scarcity2. Creativity is free! • Experiment, evaluate, experiment again • Build your sense of humor3. Celebrate the victories, no matter how small—they may be all you’ll get.
Leading In Scarcity4. Keep your balance.5. Persist.6. Leave if you are dying.