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.
In case you’re wondering, my reference to Bobby Clinton comes from the book, The Making of a Leader, by Robert Clinton.