Monday, March 23, 2009

Week #2

This week’s reading assignment: Chapter 2 of Outdoor Leadership.


If you’ve yet to read chapter 2 from Graham’s book do it now, before you read the following post.


“…You’re leading because it fits with the priorities you’ve set for your life.” (17)


I don’t think that we evaluate ourselves as much as we should. It’s painful at times. Other times it leads to pride. I’d often rather just live in denial than acknowledge the truth about myself.


We don’t have that luxury as leaders. We must constantly be striving to improve ourselves and self-evaluation is a necessary step in that process.


On the wall in my office (directly in my line of sight) I have CTI’s vision broken down into the two essential statements we use as our “marketing” statements:


- supporting global mission and ministry through the impact of music


- developing Christian leadership and character in young musicians


They hang there so I can constantly evaluate whether or not what I am doing is vision-fulfilling. In other words, those statements are there so that I can remind myself of why I do what I do.


Graham points out that we should know why we lead. We must constantly evaluate our motivation.


“The most important aspect of leadership is having a reason for leading beyond investing in your own ego.” Sharon Wood (as quoted by Graham on page 16).


For me leading is about investing in other leaders and inspiring others. I could live for days on the high that comes from seeing someone I’m leading succeed at something I’ve inspired them to do.


Reflection #1 – Why do you lead? What priorities for your life cause you tend toward natural leadership (because you all do)?



Graham points out (and I agree with him) that leadership can be lonely. There are no two ways about that. You’ll work harder, sleep less and worry about more stuff than anyone else on your team, which is natural. Summer leadership (because you will have a co-leader) is a little easier in this regard (than fulltime team leadership) but there are still times that you will feel as though no one else understands, that no one else has to make the sacrifices that you have to make, etc.


That’s why it’s important to have a community of leaders. We can pray for, support and encourage one another in more specific ways that people who have never led a team can do.


What’s important here is to not let that dangerous little thing called entitlement start to creep into your mindset. Graham points out that leadership gives you a chance to be of service to your team, and you should view the burdens you carry (which result from being a team leader and are often the cause of the loneliness he mentions) as an opportunity to serve your team.


Reflection #2 – Do you anticipate loneliness being a struggle for you? If it is, what measures can you take to combat that loneliness?



“One good way to measure the effectiveness of leaders is to measure their impact on those they lead.” (19)


Our success as leaders does not depend on the success (perceived) of the team. It depends on how much of a difference we have made in the lives of those we lead.



And the best way to impact people, according to Graham, is to believe in them.


I often get pegged as an eternal optimist, which is fine by me. I come by it honestly. Give me a situation and I’ll spin it until I find the positive (remember what I mentioned above about denial?) side of things. It also manifests itself in a sometimes na├»ve belief in people. I think that’s why inspiring others is so important to me…it flows, as Graham puts it, “…from a gut belief in the positive potential of people” (19).


Re-read Graham’s story about Frank on pages 19-20.


Reflection #3 – Do you find Graham’s measure of a leader’s effectiveness (based on their impact on those that they lead) to be liberating or intimidating? Why?


Do you tend to naturally believe in people, or will you have to work to overcome preconceptions in order to believe in your team members?


How will you foster an attitude of belief in one another (similar to what Graham recounts in his story about Frank) amongst the members of your team?



Do you have any personal experience in inspiring this kind of belief in a team? If so, share your strategies.



“It’s inevitable that some leadership challenges will come upon you unexpectedly, while others will suddenly become far more difficult than you bargained for. When that happens, don’t waste time wondering why – it’s not a mistake that you’re there” (21).


Never was this dynamic more true to me than when I led CTI’s Team Mexico in 2007. By that time in my CTI career, I was a well-seasoned (insert cynical retort here) team leader: I had already led two fulltime teams and been overseas three times as a leader (once to a Latin American culture, Bolivia). My co-leader was someone (Gretchen) I knew well and trusted implicitly, and I didn’t even have to focus on music learning (because I was not supposed to have an assigned musical role on the team). By all accounts, I had it made. But then we lost a team member during training (well we didn’t lose him, he left of his own volition). Then we had to send another team member home a week into our tour for medical reasons, which had been my decision to make.


I didn’t have time or energy to question whether or not I was the right person for the job, or why this was happening to me. I just had to trust my instincts and know that the Lord had me exactly where He wanted me.


As Christian leaders we have the added bonus of knowing that we have been placed in leadership by the Lord’s will. Graham notes that we should trust our “inner reserves” (21), but for us it goes deeper than that. We should trust Christ in us, forming us more and more into His image. Then, as Graham says, you can “do what you have to do” (21).


Reflection #4 – Share an instance when you faced unexpected challenges as a leader. Did you question your place as a leader? If so, how did you overcome those questions? If not, what comfort did you draw on to avoid this insecurity?