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.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unintended messages

When I was growing up, I noticed that my parents consistently were praising my siblings, and not me.  What I didn't notice is that they were only praising them when they weren't in the room.  When I was 18 or so, a family friend said to me, "You don't know this, but every time you're not in the room, your Dad is bragging about you."  News to me! As I reflect on that, I figure my dad didn't want any of us to "get a big head" so he was careful to only praise when we weren't within earshot.

A colleague was describing to me his fight with his son who hadn't done as well this period in school as he could have.  In the end, as he asks his son for explanation, his son said, "Dad I don't know what you're so upset about. You told me I needed to have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 and that's what I did."

Messages, verbal or non-verbal (!), lose something in the translation. From my mouth to the others' ear, what message did they hear, vs. what I had intended?  If the message is important, it stands to reason that it's also important to carefully craft it, and then perhaps check that it was received as intended.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Discovering Gifts

I receive daily devotions from Luther Seminary.  Today's was from 1 Corinthians 12, on spiritual gifts.  The NLT translation reads, starting with verse 7: A spiritual gift is given to each of us so that we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing...

After sharing many more spiritual gifts, the chapter goes on to talk about how we all, together, make up one body, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  (verse 18)

As leaders, is it not our duty, then, to use all the parts just as God wants them used?  We are called to discover our gifts, and the gifts of our teammates, so we can put them to full use.  

Romans 12 (which, in my mind, is a recipe for strong leadership) implores us to be honest in our evaluation of ourselves (verse 3).  Being honest about our own gifts and challenges is the foundation of being able to understand the gifts of others.   I guess I haven't known a leader who could be keenly aware of the gifts of others but unaware of her own.  

So, if you want a highly productive team that works well together (and then, by the way, has fun doing it!), start by being completely honest with yourself about your gifts and challenges.  Then, start seeing your teammates through the lens of all the potential God gave them.