When there is a leadership change

Reading: Exodus: 1:6–14

Whether it is in a corporate, civic or community life, there are risks and dangers during times or periods of leadership transition. The risk within has significant implications for the future well being of organization, especially if the transition has not been done flawlessly or executed with the greatest of care and precision.

However, there are times when the risk is not to the organization or those within it, but those outside. This was the case in the life of the children of Israel after Joseph and all his brothers, and that generation had died. The children of Israel were proving very successful; they had multiplied greatly and grown economically and numerically. Put simply, they were a very prosperous community.

Right in the flow of the prosperity, a new king who did not know about Joseph came into power. From then on, the story of the children of Israel in the land of Egypt changed — and not for the better. The new Pharaoh, seeing them as a danger to the wellbeing of the Egyptians began a programme of brutal oppression. He appointed slave masters who oppressed them with forced labour. All manner of evil and cruel practices were instituted and meted out to them; making their lives hard and bitter.

The details of what took place during that period and subsequently are not the main concern of this article, but rather the risks attaching to moments of transition in leadership. The key learning point is this: every organisation must seek to maintain top to top and middle to middle relationships with other organisations and communities; so there is a sense of understanding and shared history, common values. This ensures that there is no loss in terms of connection and continuity of policy. History has shown time and again, the maintenance of multi-layered relationships ensures that communication and understanding is not lost.

Whilst it could be said that the disconnect was part of God’s strategy to bring Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, the fact that the people of Israel did not continue the relationship with the then current and emerging leaders in the land of Egypt meant that they had no one to connect with or relate to; someone that could represent their case with the newly emerged Pharaoh, who went on to instigate the policy of oppression.

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