Leading With a Limp by Dan Allender. WaterBrook. 226 pages. 2011
The author, Professor of Counseling Psychology at The Seattle School, tells us that nothing is more difficult than leading, and it is likely the most costly thing you will ever do. He writes that to the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining productive and committed colleagues. The author writes that we must acknowledge and embrace our weaknesses, for good can come out of them.
The author states that when we muster the courage to name our fears, we gain greater confidence and far greater trust from others. Leading with a limp works by inversion and paradox. He writes that you are the strongest when you are weak, and you are the most courageous when you are broken.
The author tells us that leaders are called to lead with character. The purpose of limping leadership is the maturing of character.
He describes a leader as anyone who wrestles with an uncertain future on behalf of others—anyone who uses their gifts, talents, and skills to influence the direction of others for the greater good. He tells leaders to prepare to admit to your staff that you are the organization’s chief sinner. He describes God’s leadership model as follows: He chooses fools to live foolishly in order to reveal the economy of heaven, which reverses and inverts the wisdom of this world. He calls us to brokenness, not performance; to relationships, not commotion; to grace, not success.
The author addresses many topics related to leadership, among them are being a reluctant leader (another name for a servant leader), counting the cost of leadership, isolation, loneliness, weariness, stories, chaos, blame, crisis, shame, a broken leader, confidence, courage, being a fool, betrayal, a narcissistic leader, gratitude, hiding, truth, honesty, busyness, disillusionment, hope, character, awe, dignity, depravity, and the three offices of leadership (prophet, priest, and king).
Throughout the book, the author shares helpful stories from the Bible, his own life, and others. Leading With a Limp will probably be unlike any leadership book you have read in the past. It would be a good book to read slowly and discuss with others.
Here are some helpful quotes from the book:
- The reluctant leader doesn’t merely give accolades to others. It is her true joy to see others awaken to their potential and exceed their greatest dreams.
- We all need a model. We all need to know how to lead from having watched someone we respect.
- God loves reluctant leaders and, even better, he loves reluctant leaders who know they are frightened, confused, and broken. In fact, he seems to have a special fondness for rebels and fools.
- Leaders are primarily storytellers and story makers; and troubled people are called to be leaders because they create and tell compelling stories.
- Most leaders had no intention or desire to lead; instead, they were thrown into the mess by being discontent. If they had been willing to endure life as it was, then they would never have become leaders.
- A controlling leader always gets what he deserves—the bare minimum and conformity without creativity.
- The only viable option for leaders who want to mature is to embrace being broken.
- Betrayal is certain; what is uncertain is how we will embrace betrayal and use it for the growth of character.
- When you live and lead with a deep sense of God’s grace, you can’t avoid gratitude. It’s humbling to give God all the credit, and it’s also a place of deep rest.
- A leadership team is meant to be a community of friends who suffer and delight in one another.
- The sole reason to serve as a Christian is Jesus, yet he is easily lost in the various activities that consume our days. The real cost of busyness, therefore, is the loss of our spiritual vitality.
- Seldom do leaders take on their burdens merely to maintain the status quo. A true visionary pursues a dream that she can transform what exists and create a better way.
- The hope that renews and refreshes limping leaders comes with the freedom of knowing one’s limitations. When you admit that you can’t do everything, you are then free to more fully embrace the call of God.
- God calls leaders to be servants. And we are to lead our organizations from good to great by serving, by giving credit to others when success occurs and by accepting the blame when failure ensues.
- A leader—whether in the home, church, business, community, or government—has authority due to her role, but her positional power will not bring about good for individuals or organizations unless it is backed up by the capital of character.
- Leading people requires throwing yourself into a process that is fragile and tension-filled in order to help them not only do their jobs and fulfill the organization’s mission but also grow as characters with character.