Many have said that being Catholic means to adopt a position of “both/and”: grace and nature, present and future, corporal and spiritual. It shouldn’t be news to Vincentians.
Often, the organizational demands placed upon leaders — and that includes Vincentian leaders — can frustrate the desire to see new and creative initiatives bear fruit.
In an interesting article called “Living in the World of Both/And,” Adene Sacks & Heather McLeod Grant write about leaders who have accepted the challenge to integrate organizational needs and the benefits of networking ( and collaborating):
First, they understand and leverage the strengths of both organizations and networks—and anticipate their limitations. As Timms describes it, leaders need to be “bilingual” and embrace what he has called “new power.” Networks can be powerful generators of new talent or innovation around complex multi-sector challenges. It’s useful to take a network approach when innovating new ideas, mobilizing and engaging others in the work, or wanting to expand reach and scale quickly. However, networks can dissipate easily without specific “handrails,” or some structure to guide and support their work. This is where they need some help from the organizational mindset and approach.
Despite the demands of leading an organization — be it a conference or an entire Society or Congregation — we have learned that networking can unleash the power of an organization in powerful ways. Take a look at this image that the authors provide.
To re-phrase Sacks and McLeod Grant, “Conventional wisdom argues that leading in a centralized, or organizational, way will result in … greater results. But … organizations that embrace a network approach—and vice versa, networks that embrace some elements of organizations—can actually create greater value all around.” The demands and strengths of organizational structure can benefit from the flexibility and creativity of networking. The timeliness of networking can benefit from the long-term stability of organizational structure. It’s both/and, not either/or.
For Vincent, love was what was “creative unto infinity.” Love took root in good organization. In our age, the call to collaboration and networking expresses a love that is creative and responsive. As leaders, it’s always good to ponder and to learn. Saying #IamVincent makes both essential.