You’re more influential than you think

I spent the last weekend leading a retreat* for 11 folks — a local congregation’s leadership team. Most of our time was spent looking at the ways in which we live and work and lead in systems.

One of the biggest takeaways I heard: We are not just a collection of parts that build a machine. We are interconnected in ways we rarely notice.

Some things I learned while participating with this group of folks and their learning:

  • Your gifts are needed. If you are too far outside the center of things, the group will drop the ball.
  • Leading and following are so interdependent that it almost doesn’t matter if you think you’re the leader or you think you’re the follower.
  • You are influencing others’ behavior even when you are in retreat– like it (or feel it) or not. And you can’t predict what they will do.
  • Some people just love being in the role of the victim, even when they think they’re leaders. The rest of us can learn to lead without feeding into or indulging their anxiety.

Wow. I think I’m going to stop there, because even that much is huge! (They’d learned that much by the end of the first six hours.)

Actually, I will mention one more of their takeaways. One big lesson of the weekend that I kept hearing: We need to have fun. We learn, we bounce back, and we see things in perspective best when we can lighten up, stop taking ourselves and each other so darned seriously, stop worrying so much about dropping the ball (or the stick), and be willing to laugh.

All this influence can be nervewracking. You don’t get to give yourself a break. But there’s great news here, too. You don’t have to do more. How you show up–who you are when you show up–makes a difference.

It was a fun and fantastic weekend.  In fact, I received one of my favorite compliments at the end of the first day:  “I was so dreading this! And I just want to thank you.”  (It’s a compliment I receive quite often, actually.)

Several folks told me how good an experience it was, how useful the tools will be for them. If you would like to talk about bringing these insights to your own group, let’s talk.


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