Are You Yourself as a Leader?

Are you yourself in your leadership role? It’s true, as I said in my last post, that people relate to use through our role, and we must recognize that. At the same time, the more we can be our unique self within that role, the more we will bring the gifts to our leadership that no one else can.

I recently read Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller, a Portland writer who brings a fascinating sensibility to Christian faith. The subtitle of this book is “nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality.” One passage in particular struck me: “everybody wants to be fancy and new. Nobody wants to be themselves. I mean, maybe people want to be themselves, but they want to be different, with different clothes or shorter hair or less fat. It’s a fact. If there was a guy who just liked being himself and didn’t want to be anybody else, that guy would be the most different guy in the world and everybody would want to be him.” (p. 29)

Or, as Edwin Friedman used to put it, “a self is more attractive than a no-self.” When we lose ourselves in our leadership role, over-accommodating those we lead or those who supervise us (whether a real boss or a governing board), we compromise our truest effectiveness in leadership. While there’s a time for flexibility, when we constantly give ourselves away in some fundamental way, we give up the greatest gift we have to offer, our unique self.

And when we lead out of who we are, with a deep comfort with ourselves, people know it. They find it compelling. So much that passes for leadership nowadays, even in church, is calculated and artificial, or anxious and frantic. When we can calm down and lead out of ourselves, those we lead will find it reassuring. This doesn’t mean we are guaranteed they will follow, but the odds are a lot better that we can move forward and accomplish something together.

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