Two Questions For My Greatest Leadership Challenge

Guest PostSteve McMillan serves as Senior Pastor at the Oak Park Church of Christ in Calgary, Alberta and as an Adjunct Professor at Alberta Bible College. He is a graduate of the Arrow Leadership Program – Emerging Stream.

I grow most as a leader when I remember that my greatest challenges are usually internal rather than external in nature. A wide range of voices all affirm that the most vital leadership challenge is self-leadership. In other words, the deep questions of leadership are answered more by who I am than what I know or even how I function. These days I am making use of two simple questions to help decipher my greatest ongoing leadership challenge: me.

Question #1 – How Am I Showing Up? 

Asking this question has the power to shift my focus from blaming (people and systems) to taking personal responsibility. That can be a humbling gift! However, when I answer honestly I am able to move the challenge into a sphere that I can tangibly influence. There are three areas within my control that can help me show up in a fresh way:

  1. Physical:  What is my body disposition as I approach this challenge? Am I open? Centered? Energized? Can I enter this challenge from a different body disposition?
  2. Emotional: Which emotions are real to me around this issue? What if I led from a different emotion?
  3. Verbal: What is the nature of my words? Are they hopeful? Clear? The language I use creates a certain reality around the issue.

Changing my body disposition, emotions or language will shift my perception of the situation and open up previously unnoticed options for moving forward. I have witnessed the energy in the room transform and new participants and ideas emerge when a leader intentionally changes how they are showing up. The ability to choose how we will be present in any given situation this simple question reveals new possibilities for interacting and leading.

Question #2 – What Is Most Real To Me?

Too often several days fly past before I pause to acknowledge the truths and emotions traveling just under the surface of my busyness. What a missed opportunity! For one thing, my answer to this question will reveal the dominant filter present in my leadership. Whatever is most real to me is already shaping my perspectives, choices and actions whether I acknowledge it or not.

Secondly, my answer will also include a clue about the next step I need to take as a leader. Whatever is most real to me today is also God inviting me into His next work within me. We can only meet God in the present moment and we meet Him in what is most present to us. My answer to this question contains a way forward. When fear is real to me, He is inviting me to trust. Gratitude calls me to express worship and encouragement. Boredom is a cue to risk. Whatever is real to me is also an opportunity for me.