The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership
In The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, Jenni Catron does a great job of giving a holistic view of leadership, grounded in some basic Bible truths. I found myself stimulated on several levels. It’s a great book for those who want to increase their understanding of how their own leadership operates and gives some steps forward to grow as a leader, no matter where you are starting from.
I loved the emphasis on the importance of being able to lead ourselves. The longer I go on in leadership, the more importance I place on that truth. I think it is often the one thing more than any other that will make or break a leader. Our understanding of ourselves, our self-awareness, and our ability to make decisions and follow through on them trumps every other leadership quality.
There were a lot of take-aways, but I will focus in on two.
The first one relates to what she calls the “mind” aspect of leadership. I was struck by the quote from John Ortberg: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” If we aren’t surrounding ourselves with people who are smarter or more gifted than we are, we put a ceiling on our own growth and development. That doesn’t just happen naturally; it’s something we have to be intentional about pursuing. Often it will be people outside our own church.
It’s important for how it helps us grow; it’s also important for keeping us grounded in reality. Pastors are often seen as, and treated as, the smartest, most spiritual people around. Our position gives us influence that can result in us not having an accurate self-perception. It’s all too easy to fall into thinking that we are smarter than everyone else when people treat us that way.
Another aspect of that truth is “Most of us have difficulty seeing ourselves as others see us. We can as easily be over-impressed with ourselves as under-impressed. Some of us have overinflated egos, and others of us are so self-deprecating that we suffer from extremely low self-worth.”
Having people around us who are smart and can speak the truth to us can help us avoid either of the two extremes. Most of us have a bias, or bent, towards one side or another. We need to be aware of that, and one of the best ways is to have people around us who can tell us the truth—especially the truth about ourselves.
The second thing I took note of related to the team we lead. Catron said “You must believe in your team. If you don’t, you need to determine why you don’t believe in it and then make a decision about what needs to change.” It’s all too common in church work for pastors to have a team they don’t believe in. They have put people on their team for the wrong reasons: they had seniority, or were popular, or were aggressive and the pastor didn’t know how to say no to them. Whatever the reason, they have ended up with a team they weren’t confident in. It could be because of their character, or their ability level, or the chemistry of the team.
That has to be addressed if anything is going to happen. Either the pastor’s perspective needs to change, or the make-up of the team needs to change. That takes tremendous courage and wisdom, because changing the team will seldom be popular. But that is often necessary. Ironically, the team often knows that a change is needed; people know when things aren’t working well, and you will often gain respect by facing the issue head on. But we only find that out on the other side of the process. On the front end, we have to press through our fears in order to do what is right for the team, and ultimately the church or organization we are leading.
So what were your take-aways?