August 16, 2011

Leadership Self-Assessment

This blog post was originally written in Spanish and is available here

How many times in the middle of a major project have you asked yourself, “Am I being a good leader?”
I believe it’s safe to assume that most of those who closely follow the publications, blogs, workshops, and resources offered by the Episcopal Church Foundation are leaders in some aspect or other of the church. We are involved in building the church of tomorrow.

Any leadership position gives authority and power. However, when talking about being a leader we can’t let the authority and power of the position we occupy take total control of our involvement in the process of building a new church. For example – and I should clarify that this doesn’t refer to any person or situation in particular – a congregational leader wants to make a major change in their congregation.

Say this person is in charge of a congregation that is financially dependant on diocesan support and they decide they’d like to change that. Eager to reach this goal, this leader forms a strategic planning team, to answer the following questions:
  • Where are you as a congregation presently?
  • What resources do you have?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • How can you get there?
Despite this good start, however, this leader decides to take complete control of the process. They decide when to meet, construct the agenda alone, silence those who oppose them, and close the meeting at will. If such a person were to ask, “Am I being a good leader?” the only honest answer would be “no.”
A real leader doesn’t control everything. A good leader would probably use something like the Strategic Planning for your Church tool from ECF and work with a team to systematically arrive at what would be the best path for the future of their congregation.
Also, when you are a leader, sooner or later you realize any project you work on won’t necessarily be completed during your period of service. Why then would you want to cut corners and force a result? Your satisfaction should be in knowing that sometime in the near future your congregation will be able to accomplish its goals.

When we notice that instead of being good leaders, we are a being dictators, we must stop forcing the change and stop ourselves from taking total control of the steering wheel alone. We should use our influence to maintain the focus of the group involved in the process. We shouldn’t impose our personal ideas, but motivate everyone involved to contribute theirs, taking advantage of their experiences and education.
A real leader is an advisor to those taking their initial steps in the leadership arena. We will be facilitators to the best of our capacities and participate in each step of the process. Finally at some point we need to foresee when someone else is the right person to lead the process and we need to follow.
When doing a self-assessment as a leader, you need to ask “Am I facilitating, advising, participating and motivating?” If the answer is yes, you are on the right track to becoming a good leader.