Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Apprentice Leaders

Written by: on November 18, 2022

How it Differs From Other Leadership Books. Why Leadersmithing?

Eve Poole believes current leaders differ from the staunch, stiff-upper-lip Churchill types of old. Leaders today need to be more self-aware, have lots of practice, take themselves less seriously, and pay more attention to others.[1]  This is not easy. To be a leader requires lots of courage to overcome personal fears. She compares the leader’s journey to that of a pearl – the grit in the oyster’s heart creates the pearl.[2] And this is the crux of her book – leaders can be taught (with lots of practice) how to prepare for the frighteningly critical incidents that will arise in everyday leading. Hence the term leadersmithing because it evokes an ongoing process or apprenticeship that entails practice to fine-tune one’s craft.[3]. What is so refreshing is that she believes leaders can be developed. The ability to develop leaders is a stark deviation from many older leadership theories that had you think the board-level leader’s air was rarefied and reserved for those born with specific traits.

How to Build Muscle Memory in Our “Almond Sized” Core Memory Bank

Eve Poole writes about how she and her team built extensive simulations based on research data from board-level leaders. She posited a 20/20 foresight question: What do you know now as a leader that you wish you had known ten years ago? She also asked a hindsight question of these leaders: How did you learn this valuable lesson?[4]  Because the simulations are confidential, Poole does not share specifics. However, in compiling the data, there were similarities in the responses. Her team compiled a generic list of 17 Critical Incidents that sum up the list every leader should master to feel confident to move up.[5] The basic premise of the simulations is to provide practice scenarios to help leaders respond courageously when things go wrong (many items from the 17 Critical Incidents list). It’s all about conquering your fears.

The part of the brain that kicks in when things go wrong is the amygdala – the almond shape portion of the brain in the back. This small almond-shaped part of the brain stores keys to emotional memories in the brain’s core memory. This memory storage is analogous to the executable instructions accessed during a computer program’s primary function. By practicing or exercising ahead of time – the apprentice leader is building and filing instructions in their memory bank that will enable them to rapidly respond, despite the fear, in a way that others will follow. The concept is to practice enough so there’s minimal gap between what you know and how you’ll react when the adrenaline kicks in.[6]

Art of The Steal

After thinking about the book and how to summarize it, I wanted to write a creative and witty post. I thought about how I could relate the leadersmithing concepts to my own experiences and that’s when I realized these were not new concepts.  Then I questioned had I overlooked the new ideas. And it dawned on me that practicing to create muscle memory is not new. It’s used in the arts, counseling, coaching, and physical exercise. Even NASA utilizes simulations to prepare astronauts for space travel. Remember the movie Apollo 13? Practically every discipline uses role play, simulations, and rehearsals to develop muscle memory. Asking great open-ended questions is not new. That’s what great mentors, coaches, and counselors do—nothing new. Collecting research data – that’s what’s expected when you work for a well-known international business school. What the book Leadersmithing does deliver is a re-branding of the term leadership and provides the specific simulation exercises to practice building emotional response memories.

The Last Word

Then I remembered an essential lesson I learned years ago when attempting to overcome a fear or bad habit. The task is to find a scripture that resonates with what you are going through and replace the negative thought/behavior with the scripture (this in no way negates the need for counseling).

Some of the examples for me came in the form of quoting Philippians 4:8-9 NLT.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

And when I had issues with my love walk: Romans 5:5 NLT. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

I’d meditate and rehearse the scriptures, envisioning my response in a more positive light during critical times. And as Eve Poole stated, “you don’t have to know you can do it but just believe that you can.”[7]


[1] Eve Poole, Leadersmithing Revealing The Trade Secrets of Leadership, (Dublin: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017), xii.

[2] Leadersmithing, Eve Poole, TEDx Durham University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73L1613KDnw

[3] Eve Poole, Leadersmithing Revealing The Trade Secrets of Leadership, (Dublin: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017), xii.

[4] Ibid., 10.

[5] Ibid., 10.

[6] Leadersmithing, Eve Poole, TEDx Durham University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73L1613KDnw

[7] Leadersmithing, Eve Poole, TEDx Durham University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73L1613KDnw

About the Author


Audrey Robinson

4 responses to “Apprentice Leaders”

  1. Caleb Lu says:

    Audrey, I appreciate that you bring scripture into how templating can be helpful. I admit that I often try to respond using the various templates I’ve created and yet, I’m sure they all fall a little short if none of them involve how God might speak or have a hand in my response.

  2. Audrey,
    I appreciated your post and how you constantly take new information to the Word of God.Philippians 4:8-9 NLT. His peace, His presence is worth it. Well done!

  3. mm Audrey Robinson says:

    Thanks, Greg.

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