With leadership books and theories in plentiful abundance, Simon P. Walker takes the subject and draws yet another angle that causes one to take a step back and evaluate self and leadership. In his first book, Leading Out of Who You Are he defines the undefended leader. The undefended leader leads out of their own feeling of safety and being fully approved of;  out of a freedom to “be themselves, to be authentic, to choose their own paths.”  The undefended leader is “secured not by (their) skills, and resources but by (their) attachment to another – one who is big enough not to be overwhelmed by (their) failures and weaknesses.” 
In his second book, “Leading with Nothing to Lose”, Walker now moves on from the leader and who he/she is within, to how he/she can lead with greater effectiveness. Giving life examples such as Lincoln, Roosevelt, Reagan, and Mandela, Walker discusses eight strategies of power that are used in organizations: Foundational, Commanding, Affiliative, Serving, Pacesetting, Visionary, Consensual, and Self-Emptying. There is no one better than the other, just more advantageous in certain circumstances. Walker admonishes leaders to understand the effects of each leadership strategy and its configuration of power to be drawn on when needed.
As we learned from Eva Poole in Leadersmithing, “leaders are made, not born,” which demands ongoing growth, learning, and thousands of hours of practice. Couple both Poole and Walker together and one comes away with much hope in one’s learning and growing in leadership whether you are more of a Mandela or a Churchill by nature. Though we cannot change who we are, we can be aware of what is needed in each leadership season.
In the latter part of the book, Walker moves into what truly makes a leader great. “The greatest leadership always establishes freedom rather than control and is not too worried about results.” Only those “who have reached the point where they lay everything down and let go of power and have accepted their vulnerability and sought security instead in another kind of relationship, only these are truly free to lead.”
This freedom that comes from laying down one’s agenda and one’s life is such a paradox. Effective leadership is highly studied and desired, yet it offers a bait and switch. Without an emptying, it easily deceives and destroys. Scripture sings its praises, “To aspire to leadership is an honourable ambition.” (I Timothy 3:1, NEB). However, there are pitfalls: “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it!” (Jeremiah 45:5, NLT) Even “Paul was never without a wholesome, watchful fear that he himself might be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27).”
Walker has given a powerful theory to this premise of “emptying”. Ruth Haley Barton takes it further in her book “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.” She states, “The choice to lead from our soul is a vulnerable approach to leadership because the soul is more tender than the mind or the ego.” It is a place where we are not in control; God is.” She continues to share that leaders who see themselves as deeply loved by God, are free to “handle an enormous amount of success and failure without losing identity.” This foundational understanding frees the leader to enjoy the journey and take on the yoke that Jesus describes in Matthew 11: 28-30 as easy and light.
Moses serves as an example of this foundational understanding. Moses who strove for decades (4 to be exact!) to reach the promised land, found himself on the mountain overlooking what he strove for all these years, realizing he would not enter. Barton wonders if perhaps Moses’ “promised land” changed. Perhaps the long-awaited goal shifted to where it wasn’t the end all anymore. She asks the question “Could it be that the promised land is less about a physical destination or anything that is outward and more about a way of life and being that enables us to worship and love God fully?” Moses’ seemed to have crossed the threshold of what Walker described as an “emptying” and a “laying down.”
As I contemplate designing a way to address my NPO this semester, the thought of “emptying” captures my thinking. It is in the midlife season of ministry leaders that often what seemed so important no longer seems as important. There is a gradual shift that begins to present itself: a coming to the other side of oneself where wisdom and experience meet to recognize we are not the saviors, nor do we desire to be. The goal to attain gives way to a more authentic, other-focused presence that says it can’t be about me.
Much to think about…
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out Of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (Carlisle, UK: Piquant Editions Ltd., 2007), 33
 Simon P. Walker, 102.
 Simon P. Walker, 9.
 Simon P. Walker, 103.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose: Training in the Excercise of Power (Carlisle, UK: Piquant Editions Ltd., n.d.), 133.
 Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London ; New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017), 2-3.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose: Training in the Excercise of Power, 154.
 Simon P. Walker, 146.
 J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual LEadership, 4th ed. (Chicago, IL: Sthe Moody BIble Institute, 2007), 197.
 Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2018).
 Ruth Haley Barton.210.
 Ruth Haley Barton, 215.