(By Joseph Mattera) Through the years, I have observed various kinds of leadership styles and methods. Some are effective in certain contexts but greatly limit their reach because of their limited perspective. The purpose of this article is to explore the differences between what I call “lateral” and “vertical” leadership.

By lateral leadership, I am referring to a person who is horizontal in scope and perspective and functions more as a facilitator of vision, ideas and abilities. By vertical leadership, I am referring to a person who is vertical in scope and perspective and has more of a narrow view regarding how to accomplish vision and with whom they will work. Although serving as a lateral leader is more difficult and time-consuming, I am convinced it is the more effective way forward to implement mission for the 21st-century church and marketplace.

Vertical leaders can also be very effective—especially in emergencies and in the short-term. They can be very convincing, dogmatic, entrenched in their own paradigm of doing things and can attract loyal followers to their mission. The question is not whether they are good leaders—the point of this article is the fact that vertical leaders are limiting the scope of their mission because they limit their team to the handful of those who rarely push back at them in the decision-making process. Of course, even lateral leaders have to make the final decision in the event they experience an impasse with their team and cannot reach consensus. READ MORE