Friday, August 28, 2009


This summer, in an effort to continue to grow as a leader, I submitted myself to a 360 review followed by a series of conversations with an executive coach.

25 members of the Grace community (staff and lay leaders) surrounded me (360 degrees) and completed a survey on my leadership style and 13 of them were also interviewed.

It was a great learning and, in many ways, a very humbling experience.

There are aspects of leadership where I am doing better than I thought and areas needing improvement that I thought were going great.

Last night I invited everyone who participated in the review process to get together for dessert and to talk about what I learned and what I am still learning.

It was an exhausting and inspiring and affirming evening.

I was challenged with the things that I don’t do well – like always pay attention when someone is talking.

I was given permission to let go of unrealistic expectation – like needing to respond every time some one forwards a forward of a forwarded email.

I was encouraged to focus my time and energy so that I only do those things that only I can do – most notably to focus on vision and message preparation.

It was a great evening and I came away honored that people would give up a couple of hours on a Thursday evening to help me become a better leader.

I also came away even more convinced that leadership requires this sort of listening to feedback. (Quick Caveat: You have to trust the heart and wisdom of whoever is offering the feedback – some critics need to be ignored)

Receiving honest feedback can be uncomfortable but as Seth Godin notes in Tribes (I wonder how long I’m going to keep quoting Tribes):

If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.

I’ve always been intrigued by a episode in 2 Samuel 16

King David is making his way to Bahurim and a member of Saul’s family, Shimei, comes out and starts pelting David and his officials with stones and insults, referring to David as a “man of blood” and telling him to “get lost!”

One of David’s officials, Abishai, offers to cut the head off of this “dead dog” (Shimei).

David shows restraint and even suggests that perhaps God is speaking through Shimei’s “feedback.”

Feedback isn’t always easy to receive, even when it’s through a formal 360 review, it can make you uncomfortable. But good leaders learn to listen and if they listen closely enough can become great leaders.

Who are you inviting to surround you and speak into your leadership?

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