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

Power Pose!

Written by: on February 12, 2024

This week’s reading of Leadersmithing by Eve Poole [1] left me with a mixed review. I enjoyed the reading and the content of the book, but it seemed quite elementary. I guess that was the point – that leadership should be part of an apprenticeship, and something you learn on the job. However, as a part of a doctoral program, it seemed like an odd book for our reading list and I felt a bit disappointed in its usefulness for our program. I can see the value in helping young leaders through such a leadership inventory, and I wish I had read this book in my twenties. 

Despite my disappointment in the level of content, I did find some helpful tips, especially in chapter 7 on Clubs. [2] Most of the Clubs were known concepts, but I have struggled to implement some of them due to psychological barriers. The three that I am wrestling with are Power, Posture, and Sumptuary Law. 

In some ways, they feel prideful, counter to my faith, and disingenuous.  However, they have given me pause, and caused me to consider if this is more of an issue with how I have framed it, rather with the behavior itself. 


Power itself is not wrong – but it holds a negative connotation in my mind. With power comes a great responsibility of stewardship, and I have a fear of stewarding power poorly. Despite being in full time ministry, I live with power dynamics every day and it is frustrating to experience power plays, especially in ministry. People and organizations with money often hold power and are susceptible to using it in self-serving ways. However, power always exists and it can be used appropriately for the kingdom. Jesus himself had all the power in the world. At times he used it, displayed in miracles and wonders, and in the resurrection. Other times, he withheld, displayed most notably at his death. 

The difficult in the reading was that I can consider situations in which there was a power imbalance, but it can feel counter to my faith to strategically increase my power. Verses like 1 Peter 5:6 ring in my ears “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (NIV). 

Then there are other times, when I have a clear power disadvantage due to my gender, and that feels like an injustice that I should not accept, so the right thing to do would be to strategically increase my power. These situations require nuanced thinking, an inventory of my own heart, and wisdom. 


Posture is a signal of our confidence, or as Poole describes it, “Our bodies have a signature already”. [3] I found this section of the book fascinating. I knew that one’s confidence level influences posture, but I did not know that the reverse can also be true: posture can influence one’s confidence. In her TED Talk “Your body language may shape who you are”, Amy Cuddy describes how one can actually influence their confidence through a posture adjustment.[4] She explains how a winner’s posture (hands in the air in a “V” shape and slightly raised chin) raises testosterone, lowers cortisol, and is even displayed in individuals born blind. 

I have been traveling this week, and read this while on a long layover at London-Heathrow. I wanted to test this out, but concerned that my British travel mates might find this awkward, I first began by sitting a bit taller, holding my chin slightly higher, and putting my hands on my hips. Feeling a little burst of confidence, I wanted to try out the full wonder woman pose and winner’s posture, so I snuck into a bathroom stall and gave it a try. The result? Success. 

Pro tip: It helps to think about a situation in which you were triumphal, rather than a situation in which you feel defeated. I noticed the physical action of the triumphal stance boosted my confidence much more when pairing it with the thoughts of a triumphal memory. 

Sumptuary law

The modern version of sumptuary law is the adage “dress to impress”. I have felt long felt conflicted about this one, with roots tracing back to high school. Dressing to impress others can feel shallow and disingenuous. I have rejected the notion that my worth and value come from others’ pleasure (or lack thereof) in my appearance. As a result, I try to avoid feeling the pressure to modify my appearance to impress others. However, whether I like it or not, the truth is that appearance does play a role in my ability to influence others. 

My takeaway? Follow Poole’s advice but add my own twist: aim to get 9 points in a professional context by dressing and accessorizing in a way that builds my confidence, rather than in an attempt to earn favor.  

In closing, I found the three Clubs thought provoking and worth consideration and I plan on passing this book on to some who are in the earlier stages of their leadership career. 


[1] Poole, Eve, “Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership” (New York, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017)

[2] Ibid, 99-124.

[3] Ibid, 116

[4] Cuddy, Amy, “Your body language may shape who you are”, YouTube Video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc

[5] Poole, 121.

About the Author

Christy Liner

13 responses to “Power Pose!”

  1. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Thanks for your reflections on this book Christy and I appreciate your implementation and reflections. I’m always fascinated by how our bodies influence the way we use space. As someone who has always been tall, and am a white male, I’ve always tried to be aware of how much space I take up and to utilize that space to make room for others.

    Now that you’re back in your regular world after traveling, how are you noticing some of the power and posture spaces in the environments you’re in?

  2. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Ryan – being 5′ 4″, I’ve never considered needing to minimize the space I take up, haha! Thanks for thinking of that to make space for others.

    I’m in Germany all week. My luggage got lost by the airline, so I had to make a pit stop today to purchase attire for the meetings. I kept Sumptuary law in mind as I was shopping and made it up to 9 points!

  3. Jeff Styer says:

    Christy, or should I say Wonder Woman, I actually show that Ted Talk for one of my classes. There has been some controversy over the validity of her talk, but I don’t think it hurts anyone to maintain a better posture. Dressing – I love dressing up, wearing brightly colored shirts or fun neck ties. I dress up not to impress others but to feel good with what I am wearing. My son has lots of fun socks and her purposely mismatches them every day. It’s fun and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. I feel your power dilemma, in my social work classes we talk about power dynamics all the time. We have to be careful with the power we yield as social workers, yet sometimes when we are trying to advocate we find ourselves powerless. So discussing dress and power, do you have a go to outfit you wear when you need to be in a position of power? I tend to wear a tie with red in it as I’ve heard it is a power color.

  4. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Hi Christy, Thanks for your blog. Your reflections on Power, Posture, and Sumptuary Law are particularly thought-provoking. Navigating power dynamics, confidence, and personal presentation can indeed be challenging, especially within the context of faith and ministry. Your approach to integrating some of Poole’s insight while staying true to your beliefs is great.
    In considering the concepts of power, posture, and personal presentation within leadership, especially in the context of faith-based ministry, have you found any particular mentors or role models whose approach to these areas aligns with your values and provides practical guidance for navigating these complexities?

    • Christy Liner says:

      Hi Glyn – I have noticed that most of my respected female and non-western colleagues take these concepts seriously (especially their attire) – I suppose they have to.

      But I’d like to see it as an act of worship. I need influence to have the most kingdom impact – so it’s being all things to all people, for the sake of the gospel.

  5. Debbie Owen says:

    Christy, I think it’s great that you picked up on the posture = confidence idea (it doesn’t have to equal “power” per se; confidence is a great alternative).

    When I first started studying coaching, that was one of the things I learned: your posture influences your thoughts and emotions. It’s a chemistry thing! I think it’s cool that God made us that way. In other words, our thoughts, emotions, and body are integrated. When one is struggling, the others also struggle.

    And I think it’s cool that you tried it out in the airport, even if it was mostly in the bathroom!

    Can you anticipate an occasion in the near future when shifting your physical state would be useful in order to shift your emotional and mental states?

    • Christy Liner says:

      Hi Debbie – I have been in meetings all week with both western and non-western colleagues. I have been using modest power pose all week!

      I have also been paying attention to others’ posture, and at times back it down to avoid an unhealthy power dynamic.

  6. Adam Cheney says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on posture and sumptuary law. It is interesting how our posture might affect our confidence. I never realized that I stood tall and straight until my boss was walking with me and he always slouched. He mentioned that I seemed to have more confidence due to my posture. I had never thought of it until then.
    Regarding the clothing and how we dress. I have struggled with this as well, working in ministry but after living overseas for years I have realized that we often have to dress the part. I have realized that I can speak the language and I can learn the culture but the way I dress also communicates how I fit in to the culture around me. Have you thought about the sumptuary aspect through the missionary lens of adapting to the Roman, the Jew, or the Greek?

  7. Nancy Blackman says:

    I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on your post thinking you were going to mention the Yoga Power Pose and instead you were referring to a leader’s posture. There was a time when I was feeling a bit insufficient (for lack of a better term) and learned this new yoga pose where you stand feet, hip distance apart, hands in the form of fists placed at your hips, shoulders square and you just stand there allowing that pose to pivot your mood. It’s often a pose that you see with super heroes.

    You also mentioned a form of it. I love that you added the pro tip! I will try that some time.

    I’m with you on the dress for success adage. Although being back in the Washington DC area does scream of the need to dress more smart than my Southern California days of flip flops and shorts.

    Question: being a seasoned leader, what would you like to have known when you first stepped into your role as a leader that you learned along the way? Is that something you can pass on to someone you might be mentoring?

  8. Daren Jaime says:

    Christy, I am laughing as I can see you trying to get to the bathroom to seek that pose! Your emphasis on body language was a good read. I also appreciate your assessment of the level of content as it seems very elementary from your perspective. I am interested in hearing your take because I think many leaders really lack the basics. Its kind of like being an athlete who lacks the fundamentals but can get by by doing all the other stuff right. Do you think there are elementary things a lot of leaders are missing today?

    • Christy Liner says:

      Hi Daren, I think you are right – many leaders lack the basics. None of us are fully mature, but it is hard to be in leadership without the foundational skills to be successful. One thing that can be lacking in leadership in a ministry context is dealing with poor performance. It’s difficult to make the hard calls with performance in ministry – and I imagine most of us have had tough experiences with this.

  9. Chad Warren says:

    I enjoyed the way you processed this book. I personally found it helpful and tactical for leadership development, so I appreciate your critical reflections.

    Why did you think the 3 of Clubs was thought-provoking and worth consideration?

  10. Elysse Burns says:

    Christy, I appreciated your honesty regarding how to best navigate power, posture, and sumptuary law. I was impressed with a comment you made to Glyn. You said, “But I’d like to see it as an act of worship. I need influence to have the most kingdom impact – so it’s being all things to all people, for the sake of the gospel.” I believe this is so crucial in everything we do as leaders. There’s something about shifting your perspective into acts of worship that really gets the heart into the right place. So go on and be your best powerful, confident, and well-dressed self! 🙂 I think before I go into any uncomfortable situation, I am going to sneak into the bathroom and say, “POWER POSE!”

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