DLGP

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

Leadership Development can be a predictable Process of apprenticeship.

Written by: on November 7, 2021

Eve Poole is a leadership associate in Ashbridge Business School, an author and theologian. She gives a fresh approach to leadership development in her book, Leadersmithing.[1] Leadership development is supposed to be a more precise ‘science’ of preparing leaders to be precisely job-ready and more effectively resourced for the challenges they face, which should result in more confident leaders, more perceptive of their vocation and mandate, and able to maintain the most effective position at the top of their game.[2] Rather than living it to an unpredictable lifelong process of learning on the job, Poole suggests that there are specific and effective ways of training leaders to better understand the art of being great leaders. Leadership should be seen a craft that should be consistently honed and developed to achieve masterly. She isolates specific situations and experiences that shape and mature leaders’ perspectives, and presents a toolbox of “how to” improve the leader’s performance and impact in these situations. She identifies grit, emotional intelligence, and ethics as competencies that a leader should have and which can be developed through training. She has identified 17 incidents

Poole asserts that leaders are not born but rather they are made through their experiences. Through these experiences, ‘templates’ are created through as memories in your brain and prepare a leader to handle future situations that are similar. That means that situations that are likely to occur can be simulated for the leaders to learn and develop templates. Leadership is recognized as a daily craft and leaders learn in real life through critical incidents that test their mettle. The seventeen critical incidents identified through the leadersmithing research include, stepping up; dealing with poor performance; taking key decisions; coping with increasing change; managing ambiguity; taking a risk; accepting when you get it wrong; key board/stakeholder meeting; doing the maths; joining the dots; motivating and influencing others; flexing style; delegating to and empowering staff; listening to staff; knowing when to seek help and advice; giving and taking feedback; and work-life balance.[3] The core learning objective being simulation to create templates that give leaders ‘muscle memory’ about these archetypal leadership activities, in such a way that their bodies instinctively know how to do them.

She has developed poker like cards for use where seventeen critical incidents have been identified as apprentice-pieces that create the necessary muscle-memory for leaders to lead well. The card pack sets out 52 practices, each for each week of the year where the 52 cards are mapped to each critical incident. The cards are grouped by suit and can be used to support your leadership development and address the gaps in the leader’s inventory of emotional intelligence competencies. The different cards each has a meaning: diamonds, represent ‘sharpness’ (what you are good at); clubs, your physical impact; spades, a set of tools to practice; and hearts, dealing with others.[4] The cards are set out by distinguishing four clusters of skills, qualities, behaviors, and tools which are seen as the foundational practices that leaders deploy. The learning process is through muscle memory, self-regulation, reflective judgement, and learning to learn. The ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘smithing’ is a lifelong process but it takes daily practice to give the leader confidence.

The book is a very handy tool for a leader like me and as I read the book and the reviews, it downed on me that it is a great tool that I can use to develop many more leaders in our ministry organization but also beyond the organization. This is a book that I will encourage our leaders to read and possibly consider acquiring the cards to start practicing as a team. Joint discussions and practice in teams are powerful ways of learning together and motivating one another. The objective of leadership is to lead and influence followers for achieving the set objectives. This reminds me of setting undefended leadership goals of empowering others rather than focusing on my own interests.[5] Though Poole is a theologian, her approach to leadership is general but the principles developed have relevance for leadership in the church and faith-based organizations where I lead. In my doctoral research work, this provides good insight in leadership development for the implementation of my findings.

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

[2] Ibid.

[3] Eve Poole. Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership. (Bloomsbury, London, England. Bloomsbury Business, 2017). Pg 11

[4] Ibid. pg. 76

[5] Simon Walker. Leading out of Who you Are: Discovering the Secret of The Undefended Leadership. (London, England. Piquant Publishing, 2007).

About the Author

Mary Kamau

3 responses to “Leadership Development can be a predictable Process of apprenticeship.”

  1. mm Henry Gwani says:

    Hi Mary, thank you for pointing out the Eve Poole’s theological background and for highlighting the connection between cards and leadership. I think it is remarkable that we can use an “everyday” item like cards to communicate such a profound leadership lesson

  2. mm Eric Basye says:

    Excellent summary, Mary. I would love to hear more about how you anticipate using these principles in your current work. For me, this is a book I would want to revisit and seek ways to further implement to my work.

  3. Elmarie Parker says:

    Mary, thank you for your summary of Poole’s writing. I especially appreciate you highlighting her theological training. I see her PhD is in theology and capitalism–quite an interesting and relevant intersection, especially in light of so much of the global conversation. I also valued this summary statement: “She isolates specific situations and experiences that shape and mature leaders’ perspectives, and presents a toolbox of “how to” improve the leader’s performance and impact in these situations.” I found that to be a brilliant summary of her ‘critical incidences’ and deck of cards tool sets and a great way to summarize her work to someone who may not be familiar with her technical language or metaphors. Thank you for that. I am going to borrow your summary statement for work I do with stakeholders related to my NPO, with credit given to you :).

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