EMAS Canada is highly decentralized. Team leaders and their team form the functional units through which the Vision of EMAS is turned into its mission.
We have cultural diversity among the leaders, our volunteers span two generations, and younger leaders are emerging. Our services are carried out within the boundaries of well defined core values. Our outreach spreads to regions that differ widely.
The decentralization and diversity of EMAS are among our key selling points: we provide Canadian Christ followers in the healthcare professions who want to do life-long short-term missions with a vehicle they can use anywhere in the world. For seventy years we have formed teams and served in countries wherever we sensed God’s call.
Team leaders carry most of the responsibility for the mission of EMAS, they are de facto EMAS’ missionaries leading others and managing programs. They make critical ministry decisions on and off the field, prepare budgets, raise funds, recruit team members, and assign responsibilities within their teams.
Being the kind of flat organisation that we are, our leaders have wide latitude for action. This is one of the critical factors that differentiated the Vietnam War from the Gulf War: this presence of a devolved leadership.
According to General Colin Powell who fought in Vietnam, and Chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, in the latter conflict “ the Pentagon and the Administration treated the unit leaders ‘out there’ as partners, rather than as subordinate, and allowed them to participate in decision making”1
It is my observation, that the strong social contract within our teams is robust enough to give our team leaders a platform from which they can give the entire organization the blessings of body life, without losing the uniqueness of their team.
A recent article on innovative culture argues that: “Collaboration taken too far can bog down decision making, but excessive emphasis on individual accountability can lead to a dysfunctional climate in which everyone jealously protects his or her own interests.” We can counterbalance the risk of dead end silos by opening new channels for integration and collaboration at the team leader level. We become less a team of leaders and more a leadership team. We have resources for this necessary healthy consolidation of leadership.
As stewards of the EMAS Vision, our team leaders can keep one another aligned with our common calling to represent Christ everywhere provided they remain united in contending for our core message
Initial steps towards creating a leadership team for EMAS could include engaging present and emerging leaders in:
Taking the lead in prayerful review of current policy, suggesting new ones, and advising the board.
Improving communications between team leaders. Instead of reading reports to seeing, hearing, and praying for other teams.
Finding creative ways to share leadership through informal gatherings, church services, and collaboration in fundraising activities.
One way to assure the success of our mission is taking our strength of teams and teamwork to next level by giving our existing leaders more authority and responsibility. It is putting more trust in our front-line soldiers.
The task that Christ gave to His followers calls for a vision that serves the world. Starting from our homes and our communities, we are sent to the masses. God is working now and for eternity. We continue our partnership with Him: Healing Today… .Teaching for Tomorrow, and Eternity.
EMAS leaders will gather at a retreat in April where we will hear from team leaders about life and service on EMAS teams. Find out more here
To learn about new opportunities for teaching in Cambodia, India, Uganda; healthcare delivery in Haiti, Myanmar, and Guatemala contact Peter Agwa.
1. Colin Powell in “The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell” by Oren Harari page 184 published by McGraw Hill 2002
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)
A physician and surgeon in his native Kenya, Peter has a passion for Christ-centred healthcare and has a wealth of experience both hosting and sending short-term mission teams.