Welcome to The SHAPE of a Leader. I write this blog with the SHAPE leadership development program (for women pastors) I lead in mind, but it is for all who are interested in leadership, faith, and the intersection of the two.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Tipping Point of Fear

According to one source, the phrase, "Do not be afraid" appears in the bible 106 times.  Yesterday, as I sat with 20+ amazing women pastors, we talked about fear.  We all have fears - fear of rejection, fear of failure, of abandonment, of ridicule, of not being good enough... 

Sometimes, fear can be a good thing. It keeps us safe; it increases our awareness of risk - as in "don't walk the streets of the city alone after dark."  In some cases, it can be a motivator, as in "I never want to experience that situation again." 

But where's the tipping point?  Where do our fears sabotage us - create obstacles - keep us stagnant - build walls - keep us from doing the hard thing? Being the kind of leader that makes the tough decisions or takes the hard steps, often causes us to have to lean in to our fear. Examine it.  Face it.  Push through it.  

What is the core fear that's always operating in the core of your being?  Me? Fear of rejection.  Recognize when your fear is the thing that's holding you back.  Lean into it - push through it - grow from it.

Joshua 1:9:  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Man, This is hard!

I'm co-facilitating a weekly group studying authentic leadership.  This week, one of our group said, "man, stepping up to lead is hard work!"  Yep.   I suppose you could slide through life avoiding the really hard stuff, but then you would miss a lot of "possibility."  I guess that's where a lot of sayings come from:
-When the going gets tough, the tough get going
-If it were easy, everyone would do it
-Only the strong survive
-He who knows others is learned, he who knows self is wise
-And so on...

And not only is leadership hard, the real litmus test of whether you were a great leader happens AFTER you're gone - it's about the legacy you leave.  Definitely not an ego trip.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Urgent or Important?

When the same topic comes up 3 times in one week, I take note.  In three different settings last week, the topic of urgent vs. important landed front and center.  As leaders, a vast majority of our time is spent in the urgent, but how many urgent things are all that important?  Or more importantly, do you let the urgent take priority, such that the important never gets done?

Urgent is a customer problem, server failure, or the email that decides for you that you need to place a priority on it.

Important is strategic planning, employee relationships, or your continued learning.  

As a leader, you maybe have to allow for the urgent interruptions, but can you afford to not pay attention to the important things? I think not.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Humility can be learned but not taught

A wise pastor friend made this statement to me yesterday. I'm quite certain she's right.  I can't teach my clients to be humble. How do we learn humility?  Hopefully, through consistent, clear role modeling during our formative years, we, by osmosis, become humble people.  What else would there be? 

Absent role modeling, I'm afraid that crisis is a great humility builder.  The on your knees, I give up, I realize I've had huge blinders on moments when we face reality.  It's often a reality that the way we've been wasn't really all that great.  We become really humble.  And that's a wonderful beginning. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Underpromise and Overdeliver (?)

The whole premise of under-promising and over-delivering is to make sure that you actually DO deliver. Seems like it's the wrong thing for the right reason.  Leaders who under-promise set expectations low or at least less than.  It's better to set expectations high and then establish methods and systems that do their best to guarantee success.

Besides, as a direct report, if my boss doesn't set expectations very high, am I getting the message that he or she thinks I can't deliver or I don't have what it takes?  Hmm...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This post is actually a repost of Seth Godin's blog today. I couldn't have said it any better myself! http://sethgodin.typepad.com/... and if you don't follow Seth, I highly recommend it. While he's a marketing guru, he touches on all sorts of topics, and leadership is one of them. His newest book, Tribes, is all about stepping up to leadership.

"All you've got, all your brand has got, all any of us have are the memories and expectations and changes we've left with others.

It's so easy to get hung up on the itinerary, the features and the specs, but that's not real, it's actually pretty fuzzy stuff. The concrete impact of our lives and our work is the mark you make on other people. It might be a product you make or the way you look someone in the eye. It might be a powerful experience you have on a trip with your dad, or the way you keep a promise.

The experiences you create are the moments that define you. We'll miss you when you're gone, because we will always remember the mark you made on us.

There's a sign on most squash courts encouraging players to wear only sneakers with non-marking soles. I'm not sure there's such a thing. If you've going to do anything worthy, you're going to leave a mark."