Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Introducing Leadersmithing, Dr. Liz Mellon states, “Leaders bear great responsibility. They are responsible for creating wealth that sustains prosperity and thus life. They wield huge power and can make the lives of their followers a joy or a misery. We always need more and better leaders.” Despite the significant challenges, there is an increasing need for more good leaders. For this purpose, Eve Poole authored Leadersmithing to equip and mobilize various men and women, from the weary leader to the executive coach, for greater effectiveness. As a two-part book, Poole provides the theory behind leadersmithing in Part 1, whereas Part 2 is about the practice of said theory.
Poole coins the term leadersmithing, which has less to do with the act of leadership and more to do with the craft of leadership forged from the fires of apprenticeship. If leaders are to succeed in effectively leading others, Poole argues that these leaders will need to master what she calls Critical Incidents, of which there are seventeen. The apprenticeship model is humbling, difficult, challenging, grueling, and takes years to develop. Remember, leadership is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, not every apprentice makes it through the process to the end. Yet, for those who do endure, Richard Sennett is quoted to say, “In a workshop, the skills of the master can earn him or her the right to command and learning from and absorbing those skills can dignify the apprentice or journeyman’s obedience … The successful workshop will establish legitimate authority in the flesh, not in rights or duties set down on paper.” In time, leaders are molded, and the process of leadership development continues.
In considering the apprenticeship model as leadership development, I was challenged to evaluate my effectiveness in developing other leaders. Going back to 2005, as a new (and young) Executive Director, I was tasked with starting an internship program. We had several former summer college staff who, upon graduating college, desired to return and intern with our organization. With a few key concepts in mind, what began as an experimental year matured and developed into a robust leadership program, eventually paving the way for these interns to become full-time staff, leaders of other organizations, and missionaries serving in the 10/40 Window. Fast forward to 2009, having moved to a low-income community of Billings, Montana, to plant a church, I started an internship program for the organization I now lead, CLDI. The aspiration was to recruit and mobilize young college-age followers of Jesus to stimulate our wholistic revitalization efforts in our vulnerable community. We are currently hosting our 12th class of year-long interns in Billings. When asked what the most successful pathway has been to fulfill our missional goal of individual and community transformation, hands down, it has been the internship program.
Considering my NPO and the continued growth and development of the organization I lead, Leadersmithing has caused me to pause and further consider: What are the ways we can interject more “apprenticeship-type” models into our work. Is there a way to expand this model to our Rail//Line Coffee apprentices? Are there ways to link arms with partner churches to partake in more vigorous leadership development? And what about the many youth and families we serve? Are there ways to implement an apprenticeship mindset as we invest in our community to promote the flourishing of all?
While many great principles were gleaned from this book, I am looking forward to circling back and more deeply considering how we may enhance our apprenticeship model.
 Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London ; New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017), xiii.
 Ibid., 66.