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

Leader-Smithing is the 1 Out Of 4000!!

Written by: on February 15, 2024

I can remember vividly sitting at our first lecture at Christ Church Oxford listening intently as Dr. Jason was presenting and introducing us to Oxford, describing what the DLGP journey would feel like. As I was taking in the moment, looking out the window to the green surroundings, inhaling England’s crisp air and basking in the Oxford nostalgia while surveying the historic Christ Church campus, Jason casually makes a statement which snapped me out of the moment. Speaking on leadership he unloads a bomb-like statistic, “over four thousand books on leadership are written and published annually.” He stated this so matter of factly, in a most casual but convicting demeanor. Wow, that snapped and spun my head!

If I were even considering writing a book, it certainly invoked something within me ranging from a reflective pause -to a full stop. Some immediate thoughts came to mind, If I were writing a book, what difference would my book make? What would make my book so distinctive and impactful, capturing the interest of readers and compelling them to grasp it with enthusiasm and an eager hand rather than allowing it to blend in among the four thousand others?

Leader-Smithing is no ordinary book. For me, the differentiation occurs through its unique content, setting it apart significantly from the myriad available in the leadership section of your local bookstore. It is a special one out of the four thousand. At the onset, Poole introduces us to seventeen Critical Incidents through a simulation breakdown; “the simulation offers leaders the opportunity to pre-program themselves with the behavioral templates they need for the job.”[1] These behavioral templates should not be overlooked as they are a valuable gem for leaders, equipping and bracing them for impact. 12

Reading this zapped me back into my ministry context and my initial thrust into pastoral ministry.  In the A.M.E. Zion Church we are governed by bishops. A pastor and certain lay leaders are appointed and/ or reappointed at what is known as The Annual Conference. This is where ministers and congregations gather annually to discuss the stewardship of local churches and conference ministries. The culminating event is when the bishop announces his lay and clergy leadership appointments.

Once you become ordained clergy, part of a Methodist’s ordination vows is being willing to be sent to a pastoral charge by the Godly judgment of the bishop. I remember the day my name was called. There was no prior mention or notice given to me. When the Bishop announced my name, I was in total shock. Here I am, receiving this yellow manilla envelope practically empty. I open it, desperately and frantically looking for some handbook of instruction, direction, and maybe someone to come and usher me into a back room for the new pastor’s orientation. Every minister goes through several years of denominational studies, but even with that, I felt lacking and incomplete.

As I have been blessed to have many meaningful relationships across ecumenical lines, this has afforded me the unique opportunity of authentic conversations with executive leaders and stakeholders in leadership who all seem to share a common trend –today’s leaders are ill-equipped. Sadly, the matter is typically broached in a reactive state, as we are generally made aware of leadership deficiencies after one fails, falls, or finds themselves embattled in crisis or scandal. I can only imagine how insightful this book would have been from my onset, knowing how to approach the challenges before me. The muscle memory Poole speaks of would have long taken shape sooner rather than later.

Poole’s division of the book from theory into practicality was a real eye-catcher, interweaving the playing cards into suits. She then proceeded to club me in the head in a couple of areas;

Work/ life balance is not highly mentioned in many sacred and secular settings. I applaud Poole’s inclusion of this in the leadership conversation. This has been an ongoing struggle for me as I am intently putting the work in- in this area through finding harmony between the two. We live in a productivity-driven culture, where successful performance is measured through dollars, the increase of bottom-line numbers, likes, shares, and how many fans and followers you have linked to your social media account. It is easy to become unknowingly lured into the frenzied, fast-paced trap laid before leaders.

I also found Laura Bacon’s balance matrix spot on, as distinguishing between energizing and depleting tasks resonated with me. Leaders are confronted daily with decisions. Knowing what gets you down and what gets you going can be extremely beneficial. I read somewhere that prioritizing the depleting task before the rewarding task helps boost your energy. She also suggests making a delineation between my priorities and others’ priorities. Not only is this leadership hack time-saving, but from my perspective, it is life-giving!

She also advocates listening and addressing how we frame questions; this continues Haford’s writing last week, where he suggests being curious and asking the missing questions. Poole teaches from a different vantage point, citing our questioning, which should be centered on the category-type questions we should ask (open, closed, leading, rhetorical). The parallel continues because we can generate an automatic rather than authentic response based on the category-type question we ask. “Too aggressive a use of questioning can make others feel under pressure.”[2]  Again, I am reminded that good leaders must be able to ask good questions in their toolbox while skillfully being able to listen.

Eve Poole ignites a flame in forging a forward path to leadership success. I immediately viewed this week’s reading with some personal bias toward my ministry context. I felt as though it spoke to a lot of my leadership journey. Still, without a doubt, this book is fully applicable to both the sacred and the secular.


[1] Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London, England: Bloomsbury Business, 2017).

[2] Poole, Leadersmithing, 160.


About the Author

Daren Jaime

12 responses to “Leader-Smithing is the 1 Out Of 4000!!”

  1. Nancy Blackman says:

    I remember when Jason made that statement too, and I had the same visceral reaction!

    I’m curious of your ordination process. Were you not told you would be nominated or did you not express interest with someone beforehand? If not, I can’t even imagine what that would have felt like. When I was commissioned with my missions organization, I knew it was happening. My lead mentor said, “you’ll be able to marry and bury,” jokingly. But, in reality, as you well know there is more to the job then just those two elements.

    You also mention distinguishing between energizing and depleting tasks, which is something I feel is not only necessary for leaders but also how to set boundaries for both. Have you figured that out for yourself? If not, what are some ways you can set boundaries for yourself so you don’t completely burn out?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hi Nancy! I was already ordained at the time of my pastoral appointment. When the pastoral appointment occurred, I was given no prior notice whatsoever. Shock! Regarding energizing versus depleting tasks, it is still a work in progress. With the depletion, I try to see if it is something I can handle or delegate. As I approach the task, I also set a time and energy limit to engage with the hits and try to tackle them first. I like to handle energizing tasks early in the day because it gives me the juice for the menial and the mundane. I look to add those to my schedule regularly to avoid being drained. Mostly, I am pretty successful, but it can sometimes be hit or miss.

  2. Diane Tuttle says:

    Daren, thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post. Reading your comment about applicability to both sacred and secular ministries rang a bell. Today I was talking with someone who runs a for profit company lamenting about turnover. We started talking about the culture of his business and how he might be able to pay attention to his employees differently. Poole was in my brain saying the practices fit his business too. So I wonder, although the youth in your congregation are not employees, which if any of the practices Poole mentioned be useful for your NPO?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Diane. Yes, my NPO looks at young adults, and what I find is utilizing Poole’s putting them at ease strategy has been rewarding. Young adults struggle with engagement, so listening is paramount, and then putting them at ease when it comes to finding and taking place in the church setting seems easy, but not so. Many want to “get it right” regarding serving, leading, and sharing. It is ok to make mistakes to take on leadership responsibilities, and allowing them the opportunity to have access has proven well for me. Also, utilizing coaching and walking alongside them rather than in front or behind them is another strategy. As a former athlete, I know that value and have employed this team concept, which has gotten some excellent buy-in.

  3. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Daren, thanks for the blog and some insight into your journey. When you opened the envelope, what happened next? Where did you go?
    Regarding the book, what aspects do you believe hold universal relevance for leaders across various domains?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Glyn! I opened the envelope, and after leaving the convention bewildered, I went to my pastor’s house, where I got some quick counsel on approaching my first week and first one hundred days. That was leadership gold for me. It was so compelling, I now use that approach with all 10 of my sons and daughters in ministry who are presently in pastoral leadership.

      Looking at Poole’s writing, I believe all the practicums are genuinely relevant in both sectors. The Hearts section was profound for me. The ministry of Christ was literally so down to earth; he met people where they were and empowered them from there. He was relational, and I think we have lost the relational value that holds the universal relevance you speak of. I am often questioned about my interpretation of religion and rules in the pastoral realm. While this is a significant concern, and rightfully so, what often gets lost in the conversation is our relationship with Christ and one other, which is usually secondary. The hearts section speaks to this. I believe if we are genuinely about leading, growing, and impacting the Kingdom, we must connect before we correct.

  4. Erica Briggs says:

    Daren, you and I latched onto the same aspects of Poole’s writing – work/life balance and asking the right questions. You mentioned you were continuously attending to that balance and I’m curious to learn how you manage during critical incidents. How did that surprising place of “not knowing” you were going to be assigned, to muscle-memory of knowing now?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hi Erica! The work/life balance was tricky. In my initial years of pastoring, I worked seven days a week doing ministry for my first year and a half. I found myself always “attending” to something without any complete shut-off. As I was seeing great results, one of my good friends, a pastoral colleague, pulled me aside. His message to me paralleled Jethro’s conversation with Moses in Exodus. He was more forthright. “Daren, stop being a sinner!” Looking at him dumbfounded, he went on to tell me you are pastoring but not observing Sabbath. He began to share Sabbath, scripture, practical reasoning, and more with me. I was so convicted. It is now fully incorporated into my lifestyle.

      As a novice pastor, I did what I thought was best when it came to critical incidents. Still, I did not excel in knowing how to seek help and advice because I dared not show anyone my vulnerabilities, but everyone saw them anyhow.

      Interestingly, I discovered some critical incidents show up more than others. Learning from the successes and mistakes really gave me muscle memory. I tried hard to avoid conflict as “the pastor,” but that lasted a short span. Confronting conflict, dealing with it, and accepting that everyone will not walk away happy was challenging, but God being glorified as the ultimate goal. After nearly 18 years in this pastorate and five at my first, I approach situations more slowly, applying critical thinking rather than diving head in like a first responder. I’m still learning, but the job training has been priceless.

  5. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Hi Daren,
    Fascinated with the way leaders are chosen in your world. There must be a tremendous amount of prayer and discernment on the bishop’s part – that is a lot of responsibility!
    I resonated with ” distinguishing between energizing and depleting tasks resonated with me. ” If you are practicing that now, how do you distinguish between the two?

    • Daren Jaime says:

      Hey Chris! My straight-up answer is after a while, you know the people who are draining, and you have to pray, guard yourself, and be prepared for the potentially overwhelming feelings that come with those conversations, conflicts, and controversy. On the other hand, there are some incidents where you are totally unaware of how depleted they are until you are engaged in it, and they catch you by surprise.

      On the other hand, you also know what things give you life, and being intentional about incorporating those can be a game changer. Things that I am unsure about I assign to others until it is clear it requires my attention, then I will enter in. Previously, I would take these head-on and then cause myself to become overwhelmed and drained. Suppose something I engage in takes a considerable amount of my time and is not authentically beneficial. In that case, I try to minimize the energy and time spent while seeking the best resolution.

  6. Chad Warren says:

    I appreciated hearing about some of your leadership journey and the connection to Laura Bacon’s balance matrix. You mentioned Poole’s point about asking questions and listening. How do you intend to incorporate more listening into your leadership toolbox?

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