My goal is not to be an ordinary leader. My goal is to become and extraordinary one. I’ve had the incredible privilege of obtaining a pre-release copy of Jenni Catron’s newest book The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership. Believe me when I tell you that if you’re in leadership, you’re going to want a copy of this book. In fact, it’s not too late to ask for it for Christmas….
The first part of the book takes you from the definition of ordinary to extraordinary. I’ve read many definitions of leadership, and yet in my mind there seems to always be something lacking. I don’t know if Jenni’s definition is perfect, but it does hit closer to the mark for me. She bases her definition (and this book) on the greatest commandment, Mark 12:30. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Not only is this a blueprint for our lives, but for our leadership, too.
Extraordinary leadership is found in a leader who has searched to discover his or her authentic self and from that place influences others to accomplish great dreams through intentional relationships (heart), spiritual awareness (soul), wise counsel (mind), and relentless vision (strength). (The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership Loc 324)
After using the book’s quick assessment to see where my own strengths and weaknesses lie, I was encouraged to read some foundational truths about leadership. I was reminded that by accepting the responsibility of leadership, I am in fact living out the second half of the greatest commandment – to love others. Leadership has never been about the leader – it is always about those we lead. I have to accept that my life will look different because of the path that I have accepted.
An entire chapter is devoted to Leading in Chaos, and there is no doubt this is placed at the beginning of the book to remind us that there will always be tension to manage as a leader – and especially when you are challenging yourself to grow. In fact, if there were no difficult decisions to be made, we wouldn’t need leaders in the first place. If I face leadership with the expectation that I will lead from 8-5 Monday through Friday, neatly wrap up all conflicts without hard feelings, and have long stretches of time where no one asks me to make a decision, I’m deluding myself. “Leadership is messy, murky, complicated, and rarely black-and-white. Leadership is all about people, and people are complex.” (Loc 477)
I will not be able to lead through the tension if I am not successfully leading myself. Perhaps the most pivotal truth that I’ve faced so far in the first 3 chapters of this book is the fact that leadership development is not a right. No one owes me time and effort to help me grow as a leader. It’s a privilege that I can’t expect to come to me – I have to go and get it. Yes, I’ve always known that I was ultimately responsible for my own leadership development. But in this day and age of mentors and networking, I’ve come to expect someone else to want to pour into me. But the truth is, I am my best champion. And when someone else does take an interest in helping me grow as a leader, it’s simply a bonus to be celebrated. No longer will I limit my own leadership by my expectations of others. Instead, I will take ownership of my own growth and celebrate when someone does take the time to help me grow!
I’m looking forward to delving into the next few chapters of this book, where Jenni unpacks the ideas of leading with your heart, soul, mind and strength. Let me leave you with this parting thought from the introduction (Loc 169)
If I finish my life and haven’t left a mark or made an impact that was significant to another person’s life, I won’t be content with that.
Want to read Part Two? You can do that here!