Do you want to lead? Then place a mirror ahead of you and behind you to get a complete perspective of who you indeed are.
“Leadership is the activity—any activity—that leads other people more deeply into this full humanity: which enables them to take hold of, and take responsibility for, the life that they, as a unique, particular person within the created human race, have been given life to live,” explained Walker. “Leading out of Who You Are” challenges readers to introspectively examine themselves as a natural outpouring of how they lead.
How often do we hide, emulating some other successful leader, putting out a false persona, because we are worried that people will not respect us, view us favorably, or follow us? How often do we fail to be effective leaders because we live out of an erroneous bag of tricks that do not match our personality, skills, strengths, and God-given giftedness?
Walker pushes readers to consider just how important trust is between leaders and the people entrusted to their care. But can a leader truly build trust among their parishioners (community, employees, constituents, etc.) if they do not first trust themselves? Trusting ourselves comes from accurately and continually better understanding who you are as an individual, one’s personhood or identity.
As Walker laid out four different types of leaders—Shaper, Definer, Adapter, or Defender—I reflected on the tension between the kind of leader I want to be and the actual type of leader I am. If I am honest with myself, I have seen all four expressions in my nearly 25 years of vocational ministry.
However, I resonate most with the Definer. Walker has me so pegged that I kept looking over my shoulder while reading the book to see where the camera crew was for the academic research into my personality and leadership type.
I have spent the last 15 years as the manufacturer of new ideas, ministries, programs, and churches. I quadrupled a youth ministry, started a church from scratch, helped hundreds of people discern their callings, invested in developing over 25 new churches across the country, and was handpicked to reboot a floundering traditional church. What this experience often translates into is that I think I know a lot of things. It’s not arrogance as much as confidence. I believe in the work I am doing and want it to be successful.
But as Walker aptly points out, I am not as successful as I think I am, but I cannot be as unsuccessful as I fear. I live every day with the highest expectations of myself, to get tasks done, with timely execution and in large amounts.
My wife’s favorite question to ask me at the end of the day is how is your day, in which I always respond with what I didn’t get done. She will then ask me to name what I did get done and remind me that it is quite a lot.
After introducing a third major initiative in 18 months to UBC, the church I currently serve, I had a church leader respond, “Andy, this stuff is wonderful and amazing. But at the end of the day, we are just glad you are here. We are totally fine with you just being our pastor.”
So, from Walker, I am trying to learn that failure is okay and that my abundance of energy and drive can be translated into a more generous approach to the people I lead. As the author argued, “Those who grow up in a culture of generosity develop with a greater freedom. Their childhood experience is of resources abundant enough to supply their needs without leaving a deficit. There is enough love for them to be able to take it without feeling they have to pay for it in some way.”
 Walker, Simon. Leading out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership. (Carlisle: Piquant, 2007), pg 154.
 Ibid, 154.