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

Changing World Deepening Courage

Written by: on January 22, 2024

The world is changing and fast. We’ve been reading about some of these changes, especially when it comes to the world of AI. In her blog post, Eve Poole writes, “Whether or not – and when – the robots will take over is a moot point.”[1] It’s happening.

With the pace of my personal and work life compiled with the rapidly changing world we live in I can easily feel overwhelmed, wanting to bury my head in the sand, fearful of making a decision, and I am not alone, as Annabel Beerel points out in her book, Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories. She writes, “While many will try to return to the old ways, they will fail. The past is gone. A new world is emerging that requires a whole other level of consciousness. In short, new leaders are needed.”[2] And, as Bob Johansen, leadership consultant, points out, “A major challenge (leaders) will have to overcome is to not be so overwhelmed by the present that they cannot prepare for the future.”[3]

Which is why I was so intrigued by Beerel’s section on courage.

She writes, “Courage is the ability to act despite one’s fears.”[4] “Since leadership is about moving people to new places surely courage must be central to the leadership endeavor.”[5] After arguing that one cannot lead effectively if one does not have courage, Beerel goes on to say, “Leadership is all about change, and change we know is something that by and large people struggle with. Besides dealing with people’s resistance to change, leaders need to know that the change they are initiating is good change, appropriate change.”[6] Beerel might as well have been peering deeply into my soul when she wrote these words.

I am an Enneagram 6. I have a strong 7 wing, but I am a solid 6. If you are not an enneagram user, don’t worry, I’m not an enneagram pusher, but I have found it helpful in the coaching work I’ve been doing in this program. A brief primer on an Enneagram 6 is we are “committed, security-oriented, and loyal. We are hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy.”[7] All good stuff there, right? We are also “troubleshooters, foreseeing problems and fostering cooperation”[8] but (and here comes the part I’m working on) we can also become… “anxious, cautious, indecisive, typically having problems with self-doubt and suspicion.”[9] Our key motivations are that we “want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, and to fight against anxiety and insecurity.”[10]

I’ve worked enough on myself to know that change can make me perhaps a bit ornery until I’ve figured out how I’ll make the change work. My husband has learned (the hard way) that if he wants to change our plans he will drop a hint, just a slight hint, and walk away, then he will circle back and suggest the actual change, once again immediately walking away. Only after giving me enough time to make the needed mental adjustments will he re-engage with me. I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the point. Change isn’t the easiest thing for me.

One of the biggest struggles I have is trusting myself when making difficult decisions. A good, appropriate, decision, as Beerel points out, is one of the tasks of leadership.[11] I always second-guess myself, need to do tons of research, look to the authorities for guidance, want to be sure before taking a leap. Beerel writes, “It takes great courage to live these days in a world of so many choices when every moment we must decide without all the facts and without always knowing the depth and breadth of the consequences.”[12] In my coaching work, I was asked who I was trying to protect by always making the “correct” choice. As I sat with the question (and after doing some Internal Family Systems work) I have come to wonder if I am protecting the little girl in me, the girl who always wanted to do what was right, who shined when complimented for her grades or perfect attendance.

Beerel writes, “It is only natural that given the role that leaders assume they must face many fears.”[13] I am proud to say that I have learned to jump even when I don’t know for sure there is a safety net below me. While I am a work in progress, I have learned to face many of my fears – usually jumping right into them as a way of moving through them. The work of Friedman and of Walker have been immensely helpful in giving me language about this facing of my fears. To be differentiated (Friedman) or undefended (Walker) means being able to stand firm when faced with the unknown, to be confident enough in one’s own belovedness and value, that even if the worst thing happens, she will be okay.

This world is changing and quickly. According to Beerel, “To lead in this complex world, with its runaway innovations and mounting systemic challenges, requires different leadership capacities not just new and different skills.”[14] Like I said before, I am a work in progress, but then again, aren’t we all? I entered this leadership program knowing there was no magic formula for leadership and yet, unconsciously hoping there might be some kind of 1-2-3 blueprint for how to be a successful leader. And while there are many leadership theories and skills to learn, what is happening within me, and I believe within all of us in this program, is we are strengthening our leadership capacities. We are learning to face our fears, to examine deep within, to lean on the love of Christ, and to lead with integrity and hope for our changing future.




[1] https://evepoole.com/robot-souls/

[2] Annabel Beerel, Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories, 1st ed. Milton: Taylor & Francis Group, 2021, 2.

[3] Ibid, 18.

[4] Ibid, 112.

[5] Ibid, 112.

[6] Ibid, 114.

[7] https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-6

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Annabel Beerel, Rethinking Leadership: A Critique of Contemporary Theories, 1st ed. Milton: Taylor & Francis Group, 2021, 113-114.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid, 11.

About the Author

Kally Elliott

Mom of four. Wanna-be Broadway star. PC(USA) pastor. Wife. Friend. Sometimes a hot mess. Sometimes somewhat together. Is this supposed to be a professional bio?

8 responses to “Changing World Deepening Courage”

  1. Jennifer Vernam says:

    Hi Kally-

    I appreciate your perspective on the chapter of courage. It made me want to go back and read it, because, I sort of moved more quickly through that section. Reading your discussion of fear was interesting to me. What, if anything, do you think we can learn from the fears/distrust of ourselves that we have during times of change?

    • Kally Elliott says:

      I think, for me, I have to discover if my fear/distrust is because of a real threat (i.e. the change is not the right decision) or if it just my anxiety having its way with me. If it is just anxiety having its way with me, naming it and doing it scared is the way I usually deal with it – for better or for worse.

  2. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Kally,
    Thank you for highlighting courage from Beerel’s book. I appreciate your words of encouragement for us, “…we are strengthening our leadership capacities. We are learning to face our fears, to examine deep within, to lean on the love of Christ, and to lead with integrity and hope for our changing future.” And thank you for mentioning the Enneagram. It is such an insightful tool. I am a 9 so when I am on the brink of disintegration I go to the anxious side of 6. It’s familiar territory. Along with Jennifer, I need to reread that chapter on courage.

    • Kally Elliott says:

      The Enneagram has been helpful to me in both leadership and regular life! It’s not the end-all-be-all of knowing ourselves but it certainly is helpful.

  3. Scott Dickie says:

    Thanks for your post Kally….it made me wonder how all of us deal with difficult decisions. I’m not an expert in Enneagram, but I know I am a 5, which likes to have sufficient knowledge to make a decision so that I can be (or at least appear!) competent in my leadership role. In our increasingly complex world, our decisions are increasingly complex and have a higher variety of implications on people. So I can keep on investigating a decision as a way of avoiding actually making a decision! I think it was Friedman’s book that suggested that an over-reliance of information is crippling leaders (am I right on that?), and that can be me at times.

    Anyways, I suspect some people just dive into complex or tough decisions and they make a call and let the chips fall where they may (perhaps sometimes a good strategy and perhaps sometimes not)….but I wonder how those of us who are more reluctant to make a tough decision find ways to avoid it?

    A fellow work in progress…

    • Kally Elliott says:

      Scott, like you, I am often crippled by research in making decisions. I was telling Jen, in a comment above, I have learned that I need to sit with my reluctance and figure out if it is due to a real threat (i.e. not enough information) or if it just my anxiety having its way with me. If I can work through that, I can often make a decision, at some point.

  4. Adam Harris says:

    Appreciate your post Kally, you identifying the need to protect the past you who needed approval and wanted to do all the right things is powerful. That is the shadow work I believe Beerel was talking about when it comes to shifting our consciousness. Admitting and engaging these parts of ourselves does take courage. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kally Elliott says:

    Thanks Adam. Reading all the books we’ve read on leadership has helped me to take a look at myself – the good, the bad, and the ugly, and realize dangit, I have some issues! But then again, don’t we all?

Leave a Reply