Kind of without meaning to, I have been reading and thinking about knowing yourself this morning. I stumbled on an article by Faye Dresner which makes the connection between knowing yourself and effective leadership. This is interesting to me because as Martha and I get closer to leaving for Haiti, knowing who I am and how to lead well seem important.
David Ryback, in his book Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work, says “In the twenty-first century, the criteria for leadership will be not only knowledge and experience, but also healthy self-esteem and sensitivity to others’ feelings.” Dresner contends that understanding yourself and having a high degree of personal insight is just as if not more important.
Ryback in his book goes on to say that “The emotionally intelligent leader knows how to create instant rapport with practically anyone. She’s confident, self assured…[and these types of leaders are] adept at reading the unspoken, collective feelings of the teams they oversee.”
I agree with Ryback’s statements as well as with Dresner’s thought. As I think about past bosses, small group leaders, and mentors that I looked up to, they all possessed in one way or another confidence in themselves but also humility in how they led.
Martha and I will not necessarily be in managerial roles when we begin our ministry in Haiti, but I think the principles that Dresner’s article discusses and those that past strong leaders in my life have exhibited can serve as a great framework for us as we attempt to lead our Haitian colleagues in living lives of service that are Christ centered. The World Concern Haiti staff we have met are gracious, terribly patient, and emphathetic. We expect to learn much from our future co-workers, but also hope to encourage them and nudge them closer to Jesus.
Lance Secretan, one of the leading thinkers on leadership said, “Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.”
I like that. I don’t want to sound like I know myself completely and have it all together. I have much to learn about myself and about how I can become an others-focused leader. However, today and during this time of preparation, I want to begin that journey.
If you’re interested in reading more about the topic of knowing yourself and leadership, you should first check out Faye Dresner’s article entitled “Leader: First, Know Thyself.” Then jump over to How Matters, a blog by Jennifer Lentfer, and read her adaptation of Dresner’s article called “Aid Worker: First, Know Thyself.”