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 20, 2012

A Reason to Throw Stones?

I was delighted at the news that Ann Svenningsen was elected Bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod. She's a very smart woman who comes to the position with a vast range of experience. She deserves it. 

And then I read the comments on startribune.com.  Wow!  That an election can be the reason to start throwing stones and calling names!  Catholics are bashing Lutherans.  MS Lutherans are bashing ELCA Lutherans.  Heterosexuals are bashing homosexuals. Everyone is throwing stones! PEOPLE!  Where is Christ in all of this?  The only thread of truth in all those comments is that we are ALL WRONG.

It's no wonder that non-Christians call us hypocrites!  We are supposed to be united. We are supposed to lock arms and love all people the way Christ loves us. We are supposed to serve and show grace to the world. We are supposed to realize that NO ONE has all the answers.  We are NOT supposed to judge.  

Quoting the words of a theologian and member of my congregation: if you're going to draw a line in the sand, you can be sure Jesus is on the other side of it.  

Jesus said, "Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone." (John 8:7) and he said, "Why worry about a speck in your friend's eye, when you have a log in your own?" (Matthew 7:3).

Stop dividing the church by trying to be right. None of us are right. Only God is right. Stop giving Christianity a bad name. Stop breaking God's heart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mean Girls

I had a conversation today with a group of women who were talking about bullying in middle and high school. It wasn't long before the conversation turned to women behaving similarly. Not quite bullying perhaps - words like conniving, competing, back stabbing come to mind.  It's surprising the number of women who don't quite grow beyond the middle school mean girl stage.

I've watched women leaders compete with each other, withhold power rather than empower, lie to lift themselves up over their female colleagues, practically trample over other women to be the one who comes out on top. I've had women work for me who just can't handle having another woman in a place of authority above them.

If you've been the victim of this erratic, inappropriate, and downright childish behavior, take heart - it isn't you! And if you see a glimpse of yourself in the mean woman mirror, ask yourself - what's really going on here? Where am I so weak that I have to do this to lift myself up? 

A couple weeks ago, I was speaking with a colleague on a related topic. She told me that her daughter just had the privilege of hearing Madeline Albright speak. Ms. Albright said, "there's a special place in hell for women who don't support each other."  

Can I get an AMEN?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Inner Poverty

Have you seen all the writing about "bad bosses," "idiot bosses," "psycho bosses" lately? (As an example, just google "idiot boss.")  Is this a new epidemic?  Or, are we just sick of inept leaders finally and we're not going to take it any more?  

I notice a common theme when people characterize these sub-marginal employers - they seem to be filled with a self-centered ego, lack humility, are susceptible to temper tantrums, and wield their power stick inappropriately.  I think we have a problem of inner poverty.

My definition of inner poverty is a lack of a belief in ones-self that causes one to use authority rather than influence, flashy style rather than inner substance, rely on charisma (the manipulative kind) rather than character and confidence, and seek the short-term materialistic trappings of success rather than the long-term satisfaction of inner fulfillment.

Because they lack confidence, idiot bosses misuse power and authority to get work done.  Without the understanding of guiding principles, values, or a foundational belief in God (or other), they lack a moral compass and choose a machiavellian style of leadership, where the ends justify the means. They are concerned with their rise to power rather than developing their people into better leaders than themselves.  Is inner poverty one of the causes of the financial crisis that took the US economic system down?  Perhaps.

I really feel sorry for these leaders.  I think it feels lonely to them, if they take the time to admit it. But they don't admit it because they can't see it, typically, until a rock-bottom moment happens. I wish that weren't true, but in my experience only a crisis of some sort will cause the blinders to fall away from their eyes.

Until then, write on!