Dan Allender says, “So here’s the hard truth: if you’re a leader, you’re in the battle of your life.” Welcome to a challenging text called Leading With a Limp. This is a book that was given to me by a man who mentored me for six years, on the day of my ordination he mailed it to me. I finally got around to reading it this Advent season and what I read has brought me to a place where I need to re-evaluate how I have been leading. I have not been leading with a limp.
The assumption of Allender’s book is this, “To the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining productive committed colleagues (2)”. He goes on to say, “To the degree you attempt to hide or dissemble your weaknesses, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidity you will impose – prompting the ultimate departure of your best people (3).” These are the presuppositions. They are truthful and if you have been in leadership for any length of time you have experienced these statements in an all to painful way.
In the swath of leadership literature that I have read this book is changing the way I think about leading. Allender is not calling for leaders to be “authentic” and “self-disclose”. He is calling for leaders to do more. He is calling us to embrace our weaknesses and then in the company of those we lead to take our weaknesses apart piece by piece. This is not a “work on your weaknesses” kind of effort. This is an embracing of our brokenness that will necessarily lead us to a place of humility and in search of grace.
As I consider my leadership in the past I realize that more often than not I ignore my weaknesses, I write them off. I ask for forgiveness when I offend. I have never considered the idea of inviting those on my team into my weakness. I am going to process some of my weaknesses out here and subvert myself. Other weaknesses will have to be embraced elsewhere. In all of them, I need to invite people in. To live out of my strengths (which I am going to post soon too) I need to dismantle the atomic bomb of my weakness.