Leadership Calling

Leadership Calling

Last week, I attended the Global Leadership Summit put on by Willow Creek Association.  It has been an annual tradition for several years now as I have a passion for leadership.  When I started attending, I was the Director of the largest department in the Student Development division of the university where I worked.  That first experience was such a tank filler and I’ve been hooked ever since.  With responsibility for six staff members…all strong and diverse personalities – each handling the tasks of what would be an entire department at other schools, I often referred to my job as “herding cats”.  I saw my main role as equipping/empowering my staff to do the difficult work cut out for them as well as fostering relationships across the campus needed for my team to accomplish their mission: facilitating student success.  It was an exhausting position but I loved my work and more importantly, I loved my staff.  The founder of the Summit – Bill Hybels said “Everybody wins when a leader gets better”.  He has said it every year since and I absolutely believe that is true!  I knew that any effort I made to understand myself better, to hone my skills and to gain insight into the sacrificial work of leadership would pay off mightily for my staff.

I have not been responsible for a staff since I started teaching in 2012.  In some ways, I miss the nurturing aspect of leadership….the joy of investing in the growth of my staff.  However, I now have 100+ students I get to lead (in our program) and so I continue to attend the GLS.

As I reflected on the many insights gained at this year’s event, one stood out as the most affirming and inspiring:  In his opening talk, Bill Hybels stated that today’s workers are coming from largely dysfunctional homes/backgrounds but as leaders, we have the opportunity to rewrite their story line in how we lead and love them well.  That really struck a chord with me.  I suppose that’s because as a therapist, this is how I work with clients.  I understand that the relationship I build with the client is the main channel through which healing flows.  I had never really thought of it in that way though, when it came to those who work for me or study under my tutelage.  My hope is to build Phenix into an organization in which other therapists will thrive and grow.  I am already investing in that future.  I quickly realized that my investment is rewriting the storyline and that was an amazing feeling!

Isn’t this a wonderful (yet terrifying) concept?!  How we lead can positively change the trajectory of a person’s life forever.  Or, we can reinforce the dysfunctions they have come to know.  We get to offer redemption by crafting a healthy organizational culture.  One fueled by love, vision, passion and purpose.  This gives a whole new spin to the meaning of leadership.  It is a high calling.  May I say, even sacred?  I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of leader I want to be and I am excited to help other leaders in that quest as well!

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