[This week's Haveil Havalim is here]
While taking care of administrative tasks on Motzaei Shabbos, I listened to the opening salvos of the Republican debate. [Don't ask me why; I still live in the fantasy that somehow, magically, one of these anurans is going to metamorphose into a prince. Not a chance.] At one point, Rick Santorum declared that the President of the United States is supposed to be a Leader, rather than a Manager.
That set me thinking – What is a shul Rabbi? Leader or Manager?
For the sake of the discussion, we'll define "Leader" as someone who sets an example, acting and doing and modeling and inspiring others to do likewise. "Manager", on the other hand, is someone who enables others to use their talents, pairing people together and assigning tasks and motivating and critiquing and facilitating.
I tend to think that a shul rabbi needs to be both of these.
The rabbi is a Leader. Think of Moshe Rabbeinu, the ultimate leader - he acts, and others follow. He davens, and hopefully his davening inspires others. He reaches out to people within the community to assist them, and others see this and are motivated to follow his lead. He is a model of studiousness and scholarship.
On the other hand, the rabbi is also a Manager, like Betzalel organizing the various artisans to build the mishkan. He initiates projects, convening people to harness their talents, moving them forward, coordinating their work. The rabbi is a Manager in constructing community, creating connections between individuals and groups in order to tighten the bonds of chevra.
Unfortunately, rabbinic training, as it existed 15-20 years ago, didn't include sessions on Leadership or Management, and I think the latter role suffers for it. I sense that rabbis do succeed as leaders even without training, but I don't think management works the same way.
First, management is very challenging, a balance of צמצום (self-constriction) and direction, of praise and careful counsel and veiled criticism and unveiled respect.
Second, management requires consciousness, an awareness of what one is doing and what one is expected to do, in a way that leadership does not. I find it hard to think that a newly minted rabbi, not knowing there is a management role to play, could succeed in that capacity.
What do you think? Leader, Manager, both or neither? And need these roles be taught?