As a leader, it is easy to get caught up in a cycle of being overly optimistic or of pessimistic discouragement. On the overly optimistic end of the spectrum, we are focused on unrealistic goals and expectations for our ministry. On the pessimistic end of the spectrum we become overly discouraged by the challenges we face as a minstry leader.
To put everyone in a better place, leaders would do well to cultivate honest reflection. Honest reflection provides a better opportunity to assess our reality and to chart a reasonable path forward.
Recently, I sat in a meeting of managers and listened to team members talk openly about the implementation of strategies for effectiveness as well as the continuing challenges and obstacles confronting the team. The leader of this meeting led the conversation with a level of personal vulnerability which set the tone for everyone else to participate.
By the close of the meeting, with conversation built around a tone of honest relection, the following things were evident:
- No Spin: The mangement team made no attempt to spin or justify current realities. This allowed the team to face into the challenges together.
- Trust: Each team member’s words could be trusted no matter how affirming or challenging the perspective.
- Uniting: Being able to think and speak honestly with each other cultivated a strong sense of being together in mission and a willingness to face opportunities and obstacles in a united way.
In conflict the tendency is to overstate one’s position and undervalue the perspectives of others. This does not produce good results.
Honest reflection helps us come to terms with “what we need to own” while maintaining awareness of how others may be relating to the conflict.
I have found that honest reflection takes both time and attentiveness to myself and those around me. Most importantly, it requries a responsiveness to the Holy Spirit that only comes through listening.