Leadership Lessons From Torah: Leadership and Management Chessed and Gevurah

If one wants to be successful at anything substantial, meaning specifically, anything that takes time and commitment to make happen, two things must be present:  Leadership and Management.  In each project there may be any number of other things that are needed or wanted, but in order to reliably produce any results beyond what was already going to happen anyway, Leadership and Management must BOTH be present.

To better understand what these two phenomenon are, I am going to use an analogy.  And though usually, one will lean on a comparison to something more simple, narrower, easier to comprehend, I am going to go in the other direction and reach for something that is an infinitely deeper, and broader concept.

In Chassidus, the inner teachings of Torah, we learn about two aspects of creation, chesed and gevurah.  And while these are most often translated simply, chesed=kindness, gevurah=strictness; they are much bigger concepts.   Let’s take a slightly deeper look before settling on what how they will be used in this conversation.

In the Tree of Life, described in Zohar, gevurah and chesed sit across from one another, directly under Das, which is loosely translated as knowledge, but represents deep complete knowledge.  Gevurah is described alternately as:  the essence of judgment (din), as strictness, restriction, strength.  For our purposes we will think of it as, the power of restriction.  Chesed is described as: kindness, love, generosity, infinite uncompounded light, benevolence.  We will think of it here as an unlimited flow of creative energy.  It is easy to think of these things as opposites and in some interpretation they may be.  But let us remember that though in the tree of life, they sit opposite each other, they also sit below Das, knowledge.  Chesed, an unlimited flow of light from H’ is an amazing and exciting idea, but it is also clear that no separate, finite being could possibly stand up to the infinite kindness of H’.  “…If one of them were to be blocked or one of them were opened it would be impossible to exist even for a short time…”.  What we receive, must be limited in order to be receivable.  Gevurah provides this restriction.

Gevurah, though known as strict, judgment, etc. Is still an aspect of the kindness of H’.  It is simply kindness in a different form.  Gevurah shows up as discipline from a loving parent, rules in a just society, and timelines objectives and measurable results in an organization.  And this is where we switch gears.  In an organization or community, leadership and management ate two dramatically different phenomena.  Leadership is the source of vision, objective, direction; it is the big picture, the enrollment of others so that the community, (team) becomes committed as well, it is all about the distant and extraordinary.  Leadership is the domain where what seems to be impossible, beyond the norm is created, committed to and innovated.  Management is about process, control, timelines, order.  Leadership is all direction, flow, Management, order, restriction.  Imagine for a moment a body of water a lake for example, there may be plenty of water, but it is hard to do anything with that water, one can swim in it, but to move it, to use it for anything other than what it is already doing, requires some form of restriction.  A bucket can contain the water and move it to a garden.  A canal, can channel it to another place, a hose can get it to exactly where it is needed and when one places a thumb over the end of the hose, one applies even more restriction and thereby even more control, choosing a wide spray, a narrow one, trajectory, distance, impact.  More restriction gives more predictability, more usability.  Restriction makes things work in a predictably and usable manner.   Leadership creates the project, management makes it work, predictably on time and on budget.  Without both there is either no project beyond the mundane, or there is little likelihood of success.  And as both Chesed and Gevurah are really a manifestation of a higher sort of kindness, (mitigated by knowledge) so, Leadership and Management are both aspects of truly effective leadership.  This sort of leadership requires Das. See article: What Makes Us Tick, http://dhoffman.consulting/what-makes-us-tick/

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