To lead an organization is to be regularly called on for perspective. To grow in that role does not just mean to learn, it involves embracing the identity of a Learner.
Other identities tempt us:
- Telling (do this!)
- Doing (let me do this)
- Adjudicator (so and so is responsible for this)
- Representative (we think you should do this)
- Innovator (we should build something)
- Fixer (I will take care of it)
- Observer (I will watch you do it)
- Listener (So, you are saying you want to do this?)
- Expert (I know what needs to be done)
These other identities call to us as a means to arrive at a solution and act more quickly, or to shift responsibility to someone else. Neither of these is faster. In fact, they often limit, confuse, extend and/or deepen the problems we want to better address. These other identities are not always inappropriate but seldom contribute to real world problem management.
However, we are LEARNING that:
Curiosity (iteration) is actually faster because it helps us reframe problems around real issues. And when we are curious, we can be more ready to incorporate what we don’t yet know into any solution/action for problems we are just now learning about.
Curiosity helps us extend our learning in a loop. We can live in an action-reflection cycle rather than a start, stop, and start over whirlpool.
Other leaders we cultivate are more likely to commit to transformational action when they are learning, rather than when they are simply told what to do.
Other leaders we cultivate will experience greater success when they also embrace the identity of a Learner. We learn jointly with them, modeling the very thing we seek to develop in others.
Consider Acts 15:1-22 as an exercise. Read the text and answer these questions:
- What identities (see the above list) are on display in the story? What ones seem to block problem management? Which ones seem to advance toward a hopeful action?
- Where does God’s Spirit seem to be found in the story? What is God doing and saying?
- Where does learning show up? How is that learning put to use? What might have happened if learning had been the primary motivation and first intent of key players?
- What did you learn in reflecting on this passage and what additional questions you would you add?
Now, ask yourself the following:
- Which identities other than Learner tempt me?
- Which ones might show up and block my learning if I am not careful, especially in team meetings?
- How might I more fully begin with and maintain a learning mode as I lead?
- How might I develop more of a community of skilled learners among my team?
- What questions do I need to be asking next?
- Where might God’s Spirit be found in what is happening now?
- What questions might God be asking of me, of us?
Mark L. Vincent is the CEO of Design Group International. He serves as a CLA Leader2Leader facilitator and is actively involved as a subject matter expert and faculty for the CLA Outcomes Academy – Online. His post today is an except from his work entitled, Creation: the moral meaning of money (2005 Design For Ministry.)
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