Tag Archives: Self-Leadership

Quick Review: The Road Back to You

About 15 years I was first exposed to the spiritual tool/diagnostic known as the “enneagram” and found it somewhat interesting, but the exposure was so minimal that I did not really do anything with it. But it introduced or reinforced the notion of core sin patterns that different profiles of people live out.

This summer I listened to a seminar on the enneagram and interacted with a couple people that had been exploring it as well so I’ve been exploring it further and learning about what it is, where it came from, what it entails, and the scope and limits of its application.

The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey To Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile was a recommended book to get an overview. From what it sounds like it’s a good overview and more humor involved than most of the overviews and books that are emerging out there.

I am not going to unpack what it is – only that I know there’s plenty of watchdogs that look to shred the use of anything that remotely facilitates contemplation in the spiritual life and assert it’s all new age or the demonic. For years I actually thought the enneagram was the scientology tool so didn’t rush to learn more about it. That is something else.

I am interested in it because I’m always looking for things that help surface self-awareness and guide people into root heart idolatry or heart sin that drives a lot of behavior but that goes unnoticed without intentional reflection or courageous community.  From what I’ve explored thus far, this is a really helpful tool toward that end – rooting out the false self in its many different expressions and guiding to a deeper surrender to Jesus at the innermost level that can result in an authentic and free worship of God as an image bearer of God.

I have an idea of where I fall in this, but it’s not crystal clear yet.  Two of the nine profiles look pretty familiar to me and resonate fairly deeply to my core.  But I have been impressed as a basic knowledge of the profiles has already helped me re-assess how I approach certain relationships of mine and how to handle tricky leadership development moments.

Like all tools, it’s not something that should be used to label or take an expert position. It should result in humility and compassion and I think this really helps facilitate greater orientation to truth and increased grace towards others.  There are other books that unpack things with more spiritual depth, but this was a comfortable and easy read for an overview and introduction.

It’s worth saying that not all uses of the enneagram are grounded and integrated in Biblical truth and foundations. It’s origins are quite ancient and it’s been appropriated in different ways, but in its raw origins from what I understand, it was the source of what became known as the seven deadly sins.

Anyway – I’ll be reading a few more books on this because as one who is invested daily and weekly in Biblically rooted spiritual and leadership development and formation, there’s a lot of insight and wisdom to be gained here.


Self-Leadership: The Adventure of Spoon Collecting

If your self-leadership development efforts were illustrated through spoons on a wall, what would it look like? Would you have many spoons…or two…or maybe just one?


My mom has always had a collection of spoons – those little souvenir spoons that you can find while you are traveling. She has spoons from most countries in Europe and other places she has visited in her lifetime and they have been on the wall of her living room since I can remember.

That’s what I think our self-leadership development should look like–having a lot of spoons on the wall. Those spoons to me symbolize various takeaways, wisdom, insights, and experiences from a variety of different places and people and times in our life. Looking at the collection, I can’t help but appreciate the diversity of the spoons as well as the personal stories behind them.

It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that your development should be provided to you from whoever is leading you or through your immediate context. Should your leaders be seeking to provide development for you and those they lead?    Absolutely.

Should you expect them to provide all, or even the majority, of your development or what you need to increase your leadership capacity and grow?    Absolutely not!

Waiting for someone who is supervising you to provide all of what would help you as a leader is foolish, passive, and can be at times even childlike. You’re putting your own development completely at the mercy of one other person’s strengths, limitations, motivation, and capacity to develop you. And you know what – they aren’t you! Chances are you need, and even want, different types of development than your leader because you are a different person and a different leader. Even the greatest leader can only give you so much.

So let’s own our development and continue our journeys towards learning, growing, changing, and increasing our capacity to serve and lead others. Here’s what I recommend:

Go get some spoons!


Go visit the people and places that have the spoons you want or you feel like you really need right now as a leader. My mom wouldn’t have all those spoons if she never went anywhere. Waiting for your leader to do all the work for your development is like waiting for a spoon to show up at your front door. That’s anti-adventure, anti-adult, and anti-leaderlike.


What’s the point in going somewhere or visiting someone for the sake of development and learning if you don’t actually take something away that can help you be a better person or leader or even help you execute your responsibilities better. So find spoons that help you refine your strengths and growth areas. Find spoons that help challenge your thinking and paradigms. Find spoons that will speak into your life, inspire you, help you dream big, gain new skills. Find spoons that help you in your personal and emotional life as well as in your personal and leadership relationships. There’s a lot of spoons out there that can help you grow into the person and leader you want to be. Don’t wait for people to drop them off at your door. GO GET ‘EM!


One of my chores growing up was polishing my mom’s spoons. It was fun to dip a spoon into a cleaning solution so half of the spoon was dirty and the other half was perfectly clean. When polishing a spoon, it would became so shiny that it was like I was seeing it the first time.

The task of polishing all the spoons also served the purpose of reminding me of all the places and types of spoons that my mom had collected. When they were hanging on the wall they were easily forgotten, but taking them down to polish them would evoke memories and a renewed appreciation for what they looked like along with the backstory behind it. You can go and get a lot of “spoons” over time, but if you forget those insights and takeaways
they won’t transform your leadership much over time. Find ways to remind yourself of those great insights and transformational experiences that you already have on your wall!

One of the best developmental “spoons” I’ve picked up over the years is that when it comes to your development as a leader, you have to own your leadership development LIKE a leader. That means it’s no one else’s job to make sure you have a good spoon collection. It’s your job, your calling, your journey. And spoon collecting should become a passion! I’ve picked up spoons from my leaders over the years, from seminary, from reading books, from friends, from my teams, from countries I’ve been in, from media, from church, from social media, from conferences, from blogs, and a host of other places and experiences too.

There’s a lot of spoons out there to be collected!

So figure out where you want more spoons, where you really need more spoons, and maybe check out what kind of spoons others around you have for ideas about what kind of spoons can best help you. It’s also good to remember that we don’t collect spoons like we collect data or information. We collect the spoons of leadership development for our own transformation and so we can serve others and ultimately help them learn how to start spoon collections on their own.

But whatever you do, don’t settle for a wall with one or two spoons on it. You just end up looking like you’ve not really visited that many places. The people we lead and influence deserve more than one or two spoon’s worth of leadership!

Where are you going to get your spoons? What advice do you have?

How are you managing to remember and consistently apply insights
and takeaways you’ve gained in the past? Any suggestions?


Originally Posted March 24, 2011

Quick Review: Vital Friends

How much have you thought about friendship?  Probably a lot actually.

Yet how often have you thought about it as it relates to the ways in which friendships influence and sustain all the other areas of your life?

I just finished Vital Friends by Tom Rath, which offers a lot of insights and recommendations about how to improve the overall quality of life through the development of the quality of your relationships.  The premise of the book is that much of leadership development or management studies either swings to the extremes of individualism (self-development) or macro-sociology (groups).  Rath argues that the greatest influence on your life as a whole may be in the area of one on one relationships.  I think there’s a balance of perspective needed between self, relationship, and group insights, but I agree that one on one relationships often gets neglected given its significance in life and the workplace.

The focus really is on relationship quality and how it affects personal quality of life, marriage, general social life, and the workplace. Rath offers some great research on the ways in which quality one on one relationships in one’s life dramatically impacts all of those areas. But the key insight is that research shows dramatic quality of life increases when you have at least 4 vital friends in your workplace.

Half of the book is an exploration of some research that narrowed down different categories of types of friends that offer different things through friendships.  The purpose being to help people assess their own capacity as a friend as well as identify who in our lives gives to us in different meaningful ways.  The types of friends are described as: Builder, Champion, Collaborator, Companion, Connector, Energizer, Mind Opener, and Navigator.  They are helpful labels that do describe the value that different people give to others at different times, but not very rigid or narrow in their essence.  We can function in different ways with different people at different times – but we likely have a bent.  I probably function most in my friendships as a Collaborator, Mind Opener, and Navigator.

There’s some good content that could serve in your role as a coach or developer of people as well as just for self-leadership in the area of relationships and friends.  I agree with the heart of the book in that we need to help develop people in the area of relationships because that is what life is built around – and not just equip people in terms of self-mastery.

For people in my organization familiar with the 4-R leadership model, this is a good resource as it relates to part of the first “R” – the relationships of a leader.

Review of a Book About Hairballs

Thanks again to Stephanie Nannan for her guest post a couple days ago.  There was some great comment interaction.  You can check it out here.

I’m on vacation for a few days here in the desert, which means I’ve been able to do a little extra reading.  I started Cadillac Desert which has already made me feel guilty about using any water whatsoever, read some blogs and other stuff, but the highlight was finishing Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie.

My friend Mike has been recommending this book to me for probably 4-5 years, but I finally got to read it this past week or two.  It’s clever, creative, and genius.  It’ll end up on my top-five at the end of the year for sure.

It’s about a former Hallmark exec’s struggle with nurturing creativity and the human soul in the midst of organizational dynamics, pressures, and realities.  I won’t offer more of a summary, but will rather say that I thought that the author illustrates some of the key elements of systems theory while also providing insights on how to inspire and steward creativity and meaning in whatever context you find yourself in.

All my favorite themes seem to be present in this book – differentiation, homeostasis and the pressures of conformity and stability, prophetic communication, adulthood, dealing with backlash and feedback, security of identity and power in leadership, and many others.I have plans to use this in an upcoming project of mine and will become an evangelist for this book.  It’s short. It’s illustrated in creative and unconventional ways.  It’s awesome.  And I’ve already ordered copies so my team can go through this this fall.

Ron-Ron Self Leading

I’ve had a couple speaking things the last few days and I’m on full-time parent duty for a time while my wife is gone working for a few days so any reflective blog posts are going to have to wait.

But I’m celebrating the Lakers’ Championship today.  I am including the link to one of the most amazing press conferences I’ve ever seen.  It’s the Ron Artest press conference and it’s worth watching the whole thing.   It’s becoming legendary because in the celebration Artest thanked his psychiatrist multiple times for helping him.

I never thought I’d make this link, but there’s actually some great self-leadership stuff in there.  Ron basically confessed he realized he’s not good in high emotion and high pressure situations and he said something to the effect, “So you got to figure it out so you can be good in those situations.”   It’s one of the only times in sports where I’ve seen someone confess that they didn’t have the makeup for what was required and freely give credit to a psychiatrist and others who helped him mature and change into a mentally strong performer.  I gotta give him credit.   So there’s about 30 seconds in the video where he shares on that, but the rest of it is just classic ron-ron.

By the way, I know I’m mostly all things Chicago here.  I still am a Bulls fan, but I’ve always held the Lakers as number one.  My grandfather had season tickets to the Bulls all the way up to the season before Jordan arrived so there is some history there, but it’s hard to grow up in the L.A. area in the 80’s and not be a Laker fan.  I was only forced to choose between the Bulls and Lakers once – in ’91 and I pulled for the Lakers even though they lost.

But, amazing game seven.  Between the Lakers, the Blackhawks winning the Cup, and UCLA making a very rare appearance in the College Baseball world series (and USC getting the smack down as well), it’s been a pretty good couple weeks in my sports world.  I’ll enjoy it while it lasts and try to delay going back to the Cubs anytime soon.

Serving Self Leadership

This is the post that I contributed to the blogference yesterday.  There was some great reflections and thoughts in there as the comments were approaching 40 in number at last check.  If you want to engage those you can go here:  http://www.metabelle.com/re-think-ccc-blogferenceservant-leadership-development/ However, I know not everyone likes to engage in forums like that so if you have thoughts and insights on this topic feel free to share them here!


Leaders today have a great responsibility to be proactive and responsibility to develop themselves. Leaders who are waiting for other people to develop them, who are hoping their character is going to grow just by physical proximity to other leaders, or who are waiting for others to provide them the magic skills to be successful reveal that they are perhaps not really leaders at all. This is the challenge and responsibility of self-directed leadership development for those of us that seek to make a difference through influence, relationships, and oversight.

Servant leadership is tossed around frequently today as almost a given for ministry leaders, yet servant leadership values and ideas often fail to be integrated into leadership development strategies. Today there are abundant resources to assist in our own leadership development, but one could spend days, weeks, and years consuming them and still miss the whole point. I propose that we as leaders need to re-think what servant leadership truly means and what it would look like to submit all of our self-leadership strategies to this over-arching orientation to power and influence.

So what is servant leadership? I’ll lean on Robert Greenleaf’s words as he writes,

“The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?” – from “The Servant as Leader” in Servant Leadership. (13-14) 

What it would look like for the above picture to be full integrated into your personal leadership development plan and strategies? How would it change what you do or how you think about what you do if you were constantly thinking about having that kind of an impact on human beings?Self-directed leadership development today is usually centered around three things:

  1. Mastery – The development of skills and competence to get results in whatever context one is in
  2. Strength/Gift Development – Finding ways and places to use and develop one’s one strengths and gifts
  3. Soul care – Combating the pressures of leadership and challenges to one’s emotional and spiritual health to have greater longevity, effectiveness, and personal satisfaction in the leadership journey

For most that have taken the step to create a development plan for themselves, chances are 90% or more of it is drawn from these three areas. All of these are important for our development and should be represented in your self-leadership plans, but of what benefit are they for our long-term leadership fruit if our fundamental attitude or understanding of the purpose of our leadership is unclear or off-base?

If we used the criteria of servant leadership as the greatest influence on our plans and strategies, we just may very well choose to focus on the development of different skills, different areas of maturing and character growth, and different strategies for wielding influence and power. Instead of being tempted to chase competence and skill mastery we may find ourselves chasing trustworthiness, capacity for listening, cross-cultural awareness, or the skills of inquiry and question asking instead. Instead of focusing primarily on adding to ourselves (skills, strengths, soul care), what would happen if we changed our focus so that we were increasing our capacity to add to other people?

We are not to be driven by skill acquisition or delusions that we must become little CEO’s of our leadership contexts that have all the answers, skills, and strategies. Self-directed leadership development that is conducted with a north star of servant leadership takes on a different tone. Here’s the question that should drive your self-leadership: “Given who you are, where you are, and what you are called to do – Who do you need to become to embody and live out servant leadership?” And then, “What is going to help me become that person?”

To kick-start the discussion I’ll suggest two practical ways to infuse your own personal leadership development efforts with servant leadership DNA.

  1. Include a statement of vision and values in whatever development plan you choose to use. This is where our values and leadership orientation is expressed and it’s important to work some of this out so that your self-leadership efforts are value-driven and not just need-driven or organization-driven.
  2. Constantly think about three degrees of leadership influence – especially all those people you don’t have direct contact with all the time but that are being influenced through the group of leaders and people that are in your immediate leadership circle of influence. This will help you think bigger than just what needs to get done RIGHT NOW, but about what needs to be deeply embedded in how people view influence and power for the sake of succeeding generations. Who do you need to become and what do you need to live out so that servant leadership is embedded in the DNA of your leadership legacy?

Servant leadership in the Scriptures and in modern leadership theory is not really about us as leaders thinking we are servants. It is about whether those who are following us and those who cross our path are actually being empowered and served through transformational relationships. We have an immense capacity to deceive ourselves that we are being servant leaders all the while those under our influence are not really being served at all.

Servant leadership is also more measurable than we often think – we may need to identify new measurements of our own success and our ministry’s or organization’s success if we want to strive towards bringing our own leadership development in line with servant leadership values and objectives.

What connections do you make when you re-think the nature and end-game of leadership development as it relates to servant leadership and leadership reproduction?

What ideas or suggestions do you have for keeping your leadership development value driven and fueled by servant-leadership?