Stepping into Leadership

lead north.jpgI am fascinated by the art of leadership, particularly the notion of servant leadership (as opposed to wielding power). Leadership learning, training and practice is at the heart of what the department I reside in, does and enables. It’s a vibrant place to work … and in which to be stretched and challenged.
One of the challenges though is that you can’t just teach a ‘how to do leadership,’course,
it’s a learning process becoming more aware of both self and others, growing as a person (leading from values), encountering and reflecting on different and diverse tools and techniques. It’s a learning and an unlearning, a discovering what you don’t know that you don’t know, seeing where your own strengths and weaknesses are, while gaining a greater understanding of others. Gaining skills from a huge body of theories and techniques.
OK, I’m waffling a bit but I’m trying to make sense of what follows.
I’ve just been listening to Bill Hybels talking about ‘The life cycle of a leader’ in which he brilliantly illustrates the beginning of the leadership journey. He makes the point that (and this is true for me, and I suspect other Youth Ministers) we often start out in leadership when we are reasonably young, and at that stage we basically have passion and enthusiasm, but little in the way of leadership skills. We lead chaotically and assume others will want to follow, we have little awareness of the impact on others, we have a very fledgling idea of team.
He also makes the point that we can do this for a while, people will follow enthusiasm and passion. But we can’t do this forever, people get fed up of it, it leaves casualties in it’s wake and it doesn’t produce lasting change.
I loved this as it it was such a helpful way of celebrating the steps into leadership as well as being a warning that we need to learn and to grow (and continue to do so)
This really reflects my experience where I was that firebrand UNTIL I attended some training that was around ‘team roles’. My team accomplished the task EXTREMELY well but in the process I completely alienated and demoralized the team and they fed this back in the de-brief with some gusto. I was crushed BUT it opened up a huge amount of learning having realised how much I didn’t know i didn’t know!
Funny now, but a huge OUCH at the time.
An ouch I will be forever grateful for though.
Most of this post was me exploring some stuff in my head. I’m doing a lot of thinking and preparing for the DEPTH 2 retreat and I’m guessing that leadership will be a recurring theme on the blog for a few weeks. I’m really excited about this though as I think youth worker/ministers have to lead on such a variety of fronts:
1. Leading young people and at the same time enabling chance for them to lead
2. Leading a team of volunteers
3. Being part of the leadership team of the Church
4. Leading change

Any leadership STUFF, ideas, themes, reflections etc that you would like to lob into the comments would be fab, or e-mail me.

3 Replies to “Stepping into Leadership”

  1. All your thoughts on leadership are most fascinating and valuable. Am pondering a lot at the mo how the small amount I’ve learned in a church context can be used effectively in the (non church-related) workplace to model godly leadership as a means to sharing the gospel. A toughy, no doubt about it, but enormously rewarding and interesting to explore.

  2. A definition of your first phase is a prophet ! Passion and enthusiasm can take you so far but you need to stabilise and build on the foundations. I would almost argue you need both in a leadership team – a wise head and a ‘go-getter’ one to push the other and one to pull the other back from the edge of the cliff. So many examples of this – take the ex-head of RBS Fred the Shred – but the difficulty is can you do both ? The One minute Manager and other leadership guides say you need to be a driving force with some and gentle with others, the famous ‘different strokes for different folks’.
    So leadership is being what other people need of you – the difficulty is being able to be flexible in yourself, not appear hypocritical (as Christ was accused of), and keeping your eyes on the prize. We all hope and pray that Mr Obama will be the best example we have had in a long time…..

  3. Agreed Stu,
    Effective Leadership is collaborative and not a Solo affair, recognising this is part of leadership growth and security. We will not have all the abilities. We need to work or on our weaknesses BUT essentially too, work collaboratively with those who have the abilities we are weak in.
    I’m not sure that “passion and prophet” always means the presence of a prophet. It can mean only immediacy and tackling the sympton not the problem/challenge.
    I think that what ‘leadership’ means is such a wide subject that it’s difficult to do it justice.
    But I’m enjoying the think/debate

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