Reading through Leading Out of Who You Are, the behaviors of the “defended” leader (Staging, Power, and Control) made a lot of sense to me. As did the various shapes of ego which relate to our childhood experiences of trust. Learning about the types of egos, and how they impact our leadership practices set my reptilian brain (or maybe my System 1 brain?) fixating on how I probably have severely messed up my kids- which was distracting.
Once I got out of that deep dark hole, I began to scan for where I landed in the various models and what the mitigating strategies were that I needed to deploy to remedy my “issues.” In other words, it took a few attempts for me to get out of my well-worn paths of trying to perfect, trying to find out how I could “walk on water” as a person, a leader and as a mother.
Given my desire for perfection, it was difficult to absorb what Walker was trying to communicate. I finally came to realize he is inviting the reader to rethink the habits that our egos have been constructing over lifetimes and step out of our self-centered framing of leadership.
Clarity On the Task of Leadership
I finally found an anchoring in Part III where Walker goes deeper in his analysis and identifies attitude adjustments that will address leadership dysfunctions. In other words: we don’t have to be perfect, but we do need to own our imperfections.
Andrew Hartman wrote a thorough summary of Walker’s book, and in it, he identifies the four ego types that we can adopt and isolated truths, actions and attitudes that can help us avoid our pitfalls. I see this as a list of helpful methods for orienting ourselves toward a right posture with God.
|Key Transforming Truth
|The world is neither as safe or as unsafe as you fear
|Stop trying to rescue people
|Allow feedback to touch you
|You are not as successful as you think you are – but you cannot be as unsuccessful as you fear
|Stop wanting to will all the cases
|Enjoy the moment and stay in it
|Relationships are not as fragile as you believe
|You are safer than you realize
|Stay in the relationship
Fig. 1 Hartman’s Summary of 4 types of ego and how to manage them
As I read this table, themes emerge that resonate with my Christian worldview: Stop trying to be the savior, stop trying to be the champion, you cannot do it all, you can’t do it alone…. It is as if Walker is telling us to get out of the business of walking on water and leave that to Christ. Our true job is to focus on whose we are rather than who we are.
I really appreciated Walker giving a reality check. “What folly to think that we have the power of success and failure!” He goes on to say: “Our task, as human beings, as human leaders, is far more humble and close to home. It is to grow up. It is to learn, through the experiences we are given, who we are—what it means to be courageous, what it is to serve, what it is to be loved and to love, what it is to be real, what it is to be fully human.”
How I Will Use This
As I investigate my NPO, I believe I will be challenging the Church to leave behind legalistic doctrines that are heavy with cultural meaning. These doctrines have been adapted over time to create a sense of comfort and routine but are damaging the unity of the Body. According to Walker, our imperfect human nature and our life experiences inevitably will lead to our being flawed leaders. How can I challenge leaders to take such disruptive steps to go against our human nature? To pile on to this pile of doubt, we have read from Kahneman that our well-travelled mental ruts or habits are hard to abandon. The path to successful leadership seems tenuous at best.
The Altar of Ego
There is an obscure musician I used to listen to in undergrad in the 90s (!) – I wonder if anyone else in our cohort is familiar with Carolyn Arends? This week as I was thinking and rethinking about our reading, her song, the Altar of Ego popped into my head. One phrase in particular stands out to me as I reflect on our reading:
I have gazed too long at the person in the mirror, as I turn away, I’m finding things are clearer. I will set my sights on someone so much higher. Not on what I want, but on what I require to travel to the place where at last I can embrace all the things that really matter.
Just like Peter found as he started to sink in his attempt at walking on water, perhaps we also need to remove our gaze off from our tasks and refocus on Christ. Walker refers to this as an “attachment to another- one who is big enough not to be overwhelmed by our failures and weaknesses.” He then goes on to say “freedom to lead others as an undefended leader involves finding a relationship…in which we are defended by Another rather than by our own strategies.” 
 Simon P. Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (Piquant Editions, 2007);
 Leading Out of Who You Are _ Executive Book Summary
By Andrew Hartman
 Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are, 154.
 Daniel Kahneman, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).
 Carolyn Arends – Altar of Ego – Lyric Video, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k05ZGM4Tuu0.
 Walker, Leading Out of Who You Are, 103.
 Walker, 105.