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Rare Leadership: Leading with Joy

The Principal's Blog
September 13, 2019

Is it possible to put a price on making a difference in the life of a child, or even one of our fellow adults? How can we together as a community of educators move past our own insecurities, our own weaknesses--even our perceived ‘strengths’--and help each other up that hill?

A book that I highly recommend, Rare Leadership, has a chapter called ‘The Difference Between RARE Leaders and Sandbox Leaders,’ as well a Section 1 entitled ‘Understanding Fast-Track Leadership.’ It leads with this question:

‘What happens when leaders don’t lead with emotional intelligence? When they neglect building those ‘fast-track,’ more relational leadership habits?’

What follows is an indictment of contemporary leaders who often act much more like children than even children. That idea of a ‘lid’ or potential limitation is especially resonant. We can’t act more mature than we actually are, particularly under stress. And how often is that proven in contemporary accounts of failures in institutions, churches, and families?

Over the subsequent pages, the authors make the case that a faithful discipleship is not based on knowledge but on one’s identity. Simply put, who we think we are matters more than what we know. Who we are determines what we will do. They offer a different paradigm than what seems to be the norm for transformation, namely the following:

Identity + Belonging = Transformation

Couching this within a community’s maturing identity of their purpose and mission (‘this is who we are and how it is to be like us’), the authors stress the importance of finding one’s identity with others--particularly if they are also interested in becoming more relational, more intentional in their imitation of Christ. They provide several anecdotes from those who have lived out these relational realities in discovering what it means to be a broken human but searching for transformation.

I hesitate to point out any specific ‘captain ideas’ from this chapter, but I don’t think that I can avoid that of the following:

The brain is a joy-seeking machine and seeks joy above every other human experience.

Wow. Isn’t that interesting? And encouraging? And convicting? What would happen to our community if more of us adults had this at the forefront of our mind/spirit in every interaction that we had? What if joy--the embodied truth that ‘it is good to be me here with you right now’--was the most consistent part of our relationships with each other, with parents, with students? How would our community change? How would it stay the same? Regardless, how would it point to the growth that we want to see so desperately in each of our students and children? I welcome more feedback and thoughts regarding that ‘captain idea.’ (What others have you noted?)

The rest of the chapter hones in on what it means to move toward peace, cultivate one’s fast track leadership, and other relational mature elements--all in a move toward becoming ‘more like ourselves.’ What a novel idea--being more like ourselves. Is it possible that God has created each of us exactly in such a way that we would rely on him even more in our perceived ‘strengths?’ Is it possible that he has put us all together for such a time as this to complement, build, and cultivate each other through our combined strengths and weaknesses?

Happy Reading!