Leadership Development and Succession

Stanley Patterson and David Penno (Church Ministry)

A Pilot Study Exploring the Inhibiting Factors Affecting Leadership Development and Succession in the Slovakian Conference in the Inter-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists

The Slovakian Conference of SDA is suffering from a dearth of qualified candidates who might effectively assume leadership in the coming years. Antiquated leadership models seem to sabotage and discourage the natural development and discipleship of capable and fit individuals who could comprise a pool of necessary candidates from which to draft leadership candidates for the guidance and administration of the conference in coming years.

For 120 years the church has existed in Slovakia in the face of massive geopolitical changes. Slovakia was part of Austria-Hungarian Empire (till 1918), democratic Czechoslovakian Republic (1918-1938), fascist Slovak State (1938-1945), democratic Czechoslovakian Republic (1945-1948), communist Czechoslovakia (1948-1989), then a democratic Czecho-Slovakian Republic (1989-1992 with president Vaclav Havel), and finally an independent Slovakia (1993). In the context of this instability the SDA church was twice prohibited (1940-1945 and 1952-1956).

 Different models of society and politics, prohibition, confiscation of all properties, etc. marked the church, members and the leadership climate. The prevalent models of leadership in the church oscillate between authoritarian and great man leadership, even though there have been attempts to apply democratic principles to the leadership of the church. The church in Slovakian Conference and in fact, in many other similar European conferences may benefit from this study.

An accurate understanding of the factors inhibiting leader formation could contribute to the construction of intervention models for current leaders and potential candidates that might mitigate the inhibitors contributing to the present leadership malaise and create a more hopeful future for the Slovakian church and its mission.

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