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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Luxurious Reflection

Time for reflection might seem like a luxury. This article, shared by one of the esteemed pastors in the SHAPE program, hits that point.  

I had a boss once who told me that if I didn't turn off my lights, put my feet up on my desk, and just reflect regularly, I wasn't doing my job.  That's the mindset to adopt.  The benefits of reflection are huge.  Innovative ideas come. Reflection on how to do things a better way.  Understanding more deeply who I am.  Personal pats on the back for a job well done.  It applies to pastors. It applies to all leaders.

Give it a read:

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Devotion from Matthew

I thought I'd share the devotion I offered yesterday:

Matthew 5: 14-16: “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone else in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

That’s all well and good, and I believe that every person in this room is at their core a very good person.  The thing is, if all people are like a lamp on a stand, for all the world to see, leaders are more like spotlights, beacons, lighthouses. A leader does more leading by example, when she isn’t aware she’s leading, than any explicit, intended leadership behavior.  That reason alone should cause us to truly examine our actions, beliefs, strengths, and hang-ups with the goal of deeper understanding about who we are, and what light we’re shining without really knowing it. As Manz says, “Doing our best ostrich imitation by hiding our heads in the sand (or under a basket) does not make our leadership light go away.” 

Andrew Carneige, who wrote the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, had a rigorous practice of spending hours examining all his interactions with others with the goal of understanding himself better and changing his behavior for the good.  

When we deepen our awareness, and more closely align our actions with the intentions in our heart, it is these new behaviors that become the light that is shined without our knowing. I’ve learned to ask myself, “What’s my motive?” “Why did I respond that way?” “What impression did I just give to the other?” “What is it about myself that is reflected in that person’s behavior that bugs me?”   

To know ourselves deeply is to be able to answer those questions, to know clearly where our boundaries are, to hold each of our interactions against the light of our values and say, “did I live up to them?” “Was I the best example I could be in this situation?” and then when we humbly realize that we didn’t quite do it right, we reflect on why, and what to do differently next time. 
It’s not easy, and that’s why great leaders aren’t made in a day; and that’s why most people shy away from leadership in general. 


Yesterday, in the SHAPE program, a couple people were resonating with something we had talked about in January - that great leaders lead from their unique and personal FOUNDATION. To lead from that place, we all have to understand and embrace that place. That's a huge step in becoming an authentic leader that people want to follow.

What's a leadership foundation?  Your values, your life story, the fears that hold you back, the passions that motivate you, your strengths and your challenges.  To know and embrace these things, and then lead from the authentic place of their center - that's leading from your own unique foundation.

So, what's your foundation?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Your Own Worst Critic...

My colleague and friend Barb, and I were trained last week on a new assessment (Judgment Index).  It measures a lot of things but one of the items that shows up is how self-critical we are.  I think in 100% of the assessment results I saw in training, participants were too self-critical. We're really hard on ourselves.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians says (1 Cor 4: 3b-4), "I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me." He says it's not our job to judge even ourselves.  Leave it to God.

Robert Hartman, the creator of the Judgment Index, found that people who learned to be less critical of themselves were much more effective in living up to their potential - their capacity increased. 

Think about it - if we can practice grace and forgiveness with ourselves, wouldn't it be even easier to practice it with others?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What trips up a leader?

I've coached, worked with, worked for a lot of leaders.  Rarely is the lack of skills the thing that trips them up. Rather it is a character flaw.  That is, when a leader is keenly aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses, he or she will compensate for them in some positive way.  And they are viewed as a good leader because of it - rightfully so.  A character flaw - lack of humility, arrogance, selfishness, etc - however is the kiss of death.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Truth, Pain, Improve, Grow, Repeat... (REPOST)

Here's another blog post that I couldn't have said better myself!  This is from Gino Wickman, who is the creator of TRACTION, which is a method and model for running a business.

Are you growing? If you’re not growing, you’re dying. There’s a very specific process for how you grow. As Dr. David Viscott said, “If you cannot risk, you cannot grow. If you cannot grow, you cannot become your best. If you cannot how to grow your businessbecome your best, you cannot be happy. And if you cannot be happy, what else matters?” Are you a growth-oriented person, or are you more comfortable with the status quo? If this quote resonates with you, you’re probably a growth-oriented person.
The process for growth, as stated above, is “truth, pain, improve, and grow.” This means that, a lot of times, the truth hurts. As Dan Sullivan says, “All progress begins with telling the truth.” That truth leads to the pain of hearing the truth, accepting it, and making the decision to change it. This leads you to finding the answers, which forces you to improve, and upon the implementation of that improvement, you then grow. That pattern continues forever, if you truly want to be the best you can be.
Pick one area to improve upon right now. Rule of thumb: Pick the one that hurts the most. It’s a journey; enjoy it.