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Five Leadership Gears: Cog 1-Self-awareness


Victor Lipman, writing @ www.forbes.com (see November 18, 2013), affirms self-awareness as a characteristic of effective leaders. He wrote,

"Self-awareness isn’t one of those big marquee leadership qualities like vision, charisma, strategic thinking or the ability to speak eloquently to an audience the size of a small city… but it’s a quieter ancillary quality that enables the high-octane ones to work. To use a chemistry concept, it’s a psychological catalyst."

Knowing one's personal strengths and weaknesses is the starting point of forumulating and fulfilling corporate mission. At least, that's the sense of leading in the new world, a service/ information economy where leaders are measured by the way their unit or group accomplishes objectives and not merely by their own personal fulfillment of them. In the old world, pre-1990, the leader was a single act. He or she controlled the flow of information, made most of the decisions, visualized the mission, organized the workforce, deployed the resources, solved the problems, and moved the project through the various stages of final production. The leader was expected to perform at peak levels in every area of the process, the main gear in the production of goods and services.

Then 1990 happened, and the world turned upside-down. Like the invention of the wheel, or the printing press, or the assembly line, the world wide web shifted everything and demanded a new kind leader to faciliate motion and traction. It is a world moving at the speed of thought. In the old world vast was the goal. Fast would define the new world. The day of single-handed misson was over. Now the new leader would be the one who knew what he (or she) could do, and what he (or she) could not do. It became the world of maximizing strengths and gapping weaknesses, of assembling the minds and hands and hearts of a team to fulfill the mission. And, a critical piece of the action was a frank assessment of what skills, abilities, talents, passons, and mind-craft were need to get the job done.

Incredibly, churches have been slow to make this transition. It is surprising because the new leadership grid so admired by the corporate world was the one most comparable to the biblical model, the brilliant image of the Body of Christ. Church people should have been applauding this small measure of truth penetrating the executive board rooms of America. But, no, for the most part, churches refused the discoveries made in corner offices as being too worldly, fearful of implementing business models into the house of God. As a result, today, the traditional church is disconnected from the speed of thought world because her people cling to the super-hero model of church leadership. In that old, worn world, the church leader is Mr. Everything, performing at every level of church life and fulfilling the fairy land dreams of people who ignore God's plan of ian nter-dependent body parts functioning as a church to fulfill his mission.

Underneath is serious church truth, and truth about humans. None of us is the whole package. From the beginning we need each other. As God surveyed his new creation he pronounced everything good, even very good. Then he added the one element that was not good. He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). Since then, two are always better than one, each of us is peculiarly talented and gifted to contribute to the whole, and the body is more brilliant that any of the individual parts. And, what makes it work, in business, or in the church, is the humble leader who will admit that he (or she) can't do everything, and that we need other people to work with us toward common goals.

A list of strengths, spiritual gifts, abilities, preferences, passions, and their corresponding opposites should be at the finger tip of every leader. This roster is a ready reminder of the people we need as partners in mission. It is a psychological catalyst, as mentioned in the Forbes article, because it raises the value of the people who have been called to partner with us in the pursuit of that mission. It keeps the leader humble and prevents him (or her) from becoming totally self-absorbed and self-sufficient.

It's Cog 1 in the five gears of leadership. The beginning of mission. Solomon knew it. He wrote, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil" (Ecclesiastes 4:9).


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