For Eve Poole, ‘leadership’ is a somewhat problematic term, as it is often associated with titles or status.  Opting for the term ‘leardersmithing,’ the author lays out the critical ways that a person can craft and practice leadership through four areas of meta-learning: leadership muscle memory, self-regulation, reflective judgment and learning to learn. 
When focusing on her 17 critical incidents that a leader needs to excel in, I identified the areas where I had a sense of “mastery.” Reflecting on all the decisions I, along with our staff, had to make at the beginning and throughout the pandemic, I am affirmed in my ability to cope with increasing change, manage ambiguity, take a risk, and listen to staff. However, to garner the most significant opportunity for improvement as a leader, I zeroed in on two main areas I struggle the most.
First, “delegating to and empowering staff” tends to be an area of struggle for me in some regards. I used to struggle with taking on too much because I had in my mind what something should look like and would much rather do it myself than have to “fix” what someone else has done. At the same time, as the sole full-time staff member of a church start for eight years, I leaned too much into independent working. To strengthen my ability to delegate and empower staff, over the years, I have developed a deeper trust in others’ abilities and honed in a better approach to coaching my team around the vision for a project. In addition, I have intentionally taken steps to develop a highly collaborative staff culture. We work ahead to give voice to all sides and possibilities of a project, equipping each staff member to take on a critical portion of the project and providing ample space for candidly creative conversations.
Second, “dealing with poor performance” is an iffy area of leadership. On the one hand, I am more than willing to course-correct with our ancillary staff, such as childcare workers, facility managers, and communication staff. On the other hand, however, I can struggle to give direct course correction with the full-time pastoral staff. Finally, in reflecting on why I struggle in this area, I do not think I want to be well-liked. After all, I have spent most of my life not caring what other people think about me as the source of my self-worth.
I have drawn two conclusions as to why I struggle in this area. First, as a person who has unrealistically high expectations of myself, I often feel like I project my expectations onto others, fearing I might be a bit too unfair of them. Second, I am a highly relational leader who worries about what honest feedback might do to my relationship with my staff. At the same time, I realize that not speaking the truth and giving helpful correction prevents greater thriving for the staff members’ performance and our working relationship.
For the context of the book, I leaned into the chapter on “Spades” for growth in this challenging area. In particular, the portion on difficult conversation was beneficial. The author challenged me to learn the skills necessary to step into this critical leadership incident.
 Poole, Eve. Leadersmithing. (London: Bloomsbury Business, 2017), p3.
 Ibid, 12.