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Smooth Rough Leadership Edges

Every ministry leader has some rough edges. Isolation, fear, or insecurity will keep those rough edges sharp. The alternative >> engaging people, tackling complexities, and navigating confusing dynamics. But it is messy when sharp edges collide.

Tough situations smooth rough edges. Relationships shine a spotlight on our flaws. It’s necessary we face these (maybe even pursue these) for effective and authentic leadership in ministry.

What does the pursuit of the refining journey look like?

Expand Your Awareness

Step back and notice what is working and what is not. Being BOTH honest and gentle with yourself. Here’s a few ideas to get you noticing:

Self-Observation – Have you ever been in a situation where you also notice yourself while you are still IN the situation? That is self-observation. It is a powerful leadership practice that creates awareness. Notice what you are doing. Look around >> How are people responding? What is their body language? Does anyone step up and ask hard questions? How do you respond? How do you WANT to respond?

Assessments – Leadership assessments can serve as a shortcut to awareness >> highlighting how you are wired to lead and what is important to you. Working through the results with a coach or your team will draw out the nuances that are unique to you beyond what any assessment report can tell you. Notice the themes you can leverage to enhance your leadership strengths.

Feedback – Feedback can be tricky, so sometimes we avoid it. More than once I have worked with a leader reacting to assessment results, a 360 review, or feedback from their team that they perceived as less than favorable. Take this information to heart, but step back objectively and accept that with every strength there is weakness. Find the consistent feedback that matters the most to your leadership, your goals, and how YOU want to change and grow. Let the rest go (at least for now).

Choose to Take Action

Awareness is meaningless unless in translates into choosing a new behavior, a new response, or a new way of thinking. Sometimes we expect awareness to lead to change. It rarely does.

Once you have expanded your awareness, it is time to do something about it! Pick an experiment you want to try. It may or may not work, but you will learn something in the process that will inform your next experiment. Sometimes, leaders let their team know they are trying something new. Other times actions just speak louder than words. It’s a people experiment >> so it’s dynamic and you never know how someone will respond – rough edges may collide.

Remember, it’s not always another person’s response that defines success. (1) Are you moving toward the goals you set? (2) Are you staying true to who you want to be in the situation? (3) Are you learning new things to apply and refine your approach?

Embed Transformation

Transformation happens when the experiment becomes a habit. You consistently start doing a new behavior >> Change the dynamics of a meeting. Interact with team members differently. Master thinking patterns that fuel growth.

Leaders who are smoothing rough edges are never done. This cycle of awareness – action – transformation starts all over again. New situations arise and bring to our awareness something we never noticed before. Keep your pursuit active!

If you are in the pursuit of smoothing out some rough edges, grab a few more tips to help with your experimentation by downloading my Ultimate Leader Guide HERE.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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