are you a safe leader?

[ are you safe ]

“Own your wounding or risk inflicting it on others!”

I will never forget hearing that line for the first time as I listened to a podcast from Men’s Retreat session taught by John Eldredge. It resonated with me, and the years I have fought through my own wounding and pathology. It also rang true with the coaching I have done with leaders down through the years.

Most leaders are not very self-aware. Fewer still have had the courage to face their stuff. We lead out of our pathology… either for the good or bad.

Many are the wounded in the context of ministry for Christ. Much of that wounding comes from leaders who have little knowledge (and acceptance) of who they are as a person first, then a leader. Many ministers (and other leaders) lead out of ambition and a heavy reliance on natural abilities, as opposed to an increased spiritual authority. Many still are those who forge ahead, regardless of what their leadership may be inflicting on others.

Edwin Friedman, in his books “Generation to Generation” and “The Failure of Nerve,” defines a leader this way:  “A leader is a self-defined person with an non-anxious presence. I have taken that definition and brought it to a point of application; “Self-defined leaders know who they are, they know who they are not, and they are okay.”

What does a self-define (self-aware) leader look like… in real life?

They are leaders who stop trying to be someone else.

They stopped trying to be who they think they should be, who others want them to be, and/or leading out of guilt, shame, ambition or lack of self-worth. Instead… they see as their greatest act of worship as a choice to be themselves.

Another way to all see is through the eyes of leadership…

Leadership is an issue of influence… much more than position. God shapes each of ours influence over time.

Influence is primarily the result of Spiritual Authority. The fragrance of Jesus on our lives, as a result of uour journey with Jesus.

Spiritual authority comes from a deeper work of Character and trust in Christ. As we go deeper in our trust, our character begins to look more like His character.

Character is shaped more often than not during our times of pain and Wounding. While all moments shape our lives, some of the most painful moments shape us more.

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We call this the “Influence Continuum.” And its flow works both directions.

As God takes us deeper down the continuum path, he also takes up the same path. As leaders allow God to heal the issues that often are deep within us, he grants to us greater godly, character. This builds (often unknown to a leader) a new sense of authority, which results in expanded influence.

So… back to the question… Are You Safe? And how do you know?

FOUR Categories of QUESTIONS that can Help

1. Do you know who you are… and are your comfortable with what you are? and what you are not? Do you understand how who you are, impacts others?

2. Are you aware of what the past (good and bad) may have done to you? And that your imprint on others is a result of your values and who you are, much more than your vision you communicate?

3. Do you allow others to help you… define you? We do not get to clarity alone. Have you broken the American-myth that flying “solo” and proving you can do it, is much more about ambition than Jesus.

4. Is your leadership characterized by what you “want us to see”… or by the healing Jesus continues to forge in you as you allow his redemptive work to continue in your life.

The less you know about you… the less you are safe for others.

And the less aware you are of what your pathology has done to you and your leadership… the greater the chance you will inflict your wounds on those you lead.

Something to think about.

© Terry Walling 2014

2 thoughts on “are you a safe leader?

  1. Great post. Great tips on how be a better leader in the workplace, or anywhere for that matter. I’ve been reading many books on leadership and the one I am reading right now focuses more on how to keep your brain healthy which then leads to being on top of your game, which helps you be a better leader at work and home. It’s by David Silverstein, It’s called Become an Elite Mental Athlete. It’s really amazing how many factors there are the affect your brain daily and the changes that can be made to help it stay strong. Something to be said for that.

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