One of my colleagues recently asked me if I’d taken the time to reflect on my first year in the job. I did some quick, on-the-fly verbal processing with her and then began a longer personal reflection. My basis was the idea of examen and the specific questions, “In what areas did you experience consolation?” and “In what areas did you experience desolation?” I am trying to incorporate those questions into my quarterly days of prayer and an annual retreat. But if I’m to incorporate reflection into my weekly or daily practices, I’ve finally concluded I need to condense to one question. Two questions decreases the likelihood of follow-through. So it comes down to this: “Where did I see God at work in either the positive or negative events I experienced?”
I know you’re interested in my answers to those questions, but they’re more personal than I want to get into in this public a forum. Instead, this forum warrants a different question that you may find relevant: “After a year of leading an organization at the highest level, do I still stand by the leadership theories I espoused here in this blog?”
In general, I still feel strongly about the philosophy I articulated here. Of course, there are a few posts that show some naiveté, but surprisingly few that I would take back. While the purposes of my two and a half years in leadership development were to invest in others and initiate leadership development and succession planning programs for the organization, I was the one who benefitted the most. I used that period as a self-study masters in leadership.
Bobby Clinton talks about the phases in the life of a leader. To really digest his material requires extended reflection on a leader’s experiences, beliefs and practices. Those years afforded me the time to reflect and articulate a leadership philosophy that has allowed me to feel slightly less like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Believe me: I am no MBA grad or Six Sigma consultant, plugging in formulas and templates for every challenge. My leadership philosophy and practice is much more reactive and organic; it’s centred around critical thinking, brainstorming and art direction. Yes, I am a design thinker who leads on the canvas of reality rather than idealism. I love to incorporate the creativity of others in my solutions. And I’ll compromise on specific ideas to get 80-90% of my goal.
I’ve found that philosophy to be well-suited to the circumstances I inherited at Wycliffe Canada.
Stay tuned. No doubt I have plenty of time to eat my words. But that’s part of my philosophy as well: sometimes ready-fire-aim and then fire again is more appropriate than the ideal alternative. You just have to be quick to apologize when you get it wrong, and try again.