Many years ago, I heard a teacher say the best way to identify counterfeit money, is to always hold the real thing. The more you get to know the texture, markings, and overall quality of authentic dollar bills, the more acutely aware you are of counterfeit.
As I begin my transition to the Leadership Vision team, this image has once again come to mind. The more you get to know the voice, actions, strategy, and overall quality of a strengths-based leader, you more easily recognize when these are missing from those who are not leading this way. Spending time in the presence of team members who are using their themes of Strength in generative ways, has deepened my longing to be in relationship with them, and for others to know this type of strengths-based leadership in their own contexts.
When Nathan asked me to write a post, introducing myself and explaining a bit about why I decided to come work for LVC, I am reminded of two things that I experienced seven years ago, when I was on the periphery of this company.
My Journey Begins
My journey to Leadership Vision began at Bethel University in 2000, when Linda Schubring and I began working together in Residence Life. Even though I was just a 19 year old college student and Linda was in the early stages of her career, there seemed to be something developing, of greater meaning, which would transcend years and experience.
Fast forward to the fall of 2009 after I had experienced a wide variety of additional life and career experiences, I was living in Seattle and attending grad school full-time. Linda was living and working in Minnesota and was very newly married to Brian. Despite job changes, cross-country moves, and many significant challenges and joys, Linda and I remained strongly connected. She invited my husband and I to come to the Portland area, where she, Brian, Nathan and another would be consulting at a church. Knowing Linda would be within driving distance, we cleared our schedules. We were not only excited to see our friends, but we were quite curious to learn more about this “Strengths based consulting” we had heard so much about.
The relationship Linda and I developed through our years as friends and colleagues, went a level deeper, with the possibility of us vocationally connecting in a relational way. A dream and curiosity were ignited.
The Aha Moment
I see two reasons why that day was so significant, and has played such a significant role in my decision to move across the country and begin my role on this team.
1. Leadership Vision is Relationally Excellent
Even though Leadership Vision has changed in many aspects, over the years, this relational component continues to flow through our company. The consulting I observed in 2009, didn’t feel like “consulting”. Rather, it felt like someone calling you to a deeper understanding, a deeper knowledge, a deeper appreciation. The way Linda and Brian presented, taught, and engaged the wide variety of individuals was amazing, as they were able to relationally connect with each unique person, while addressing the issues facing the entire group. Leadership Vision has relational excellence built into their DNA. I remember being captivated by their style, and changed by the way they relationally engaged people.
2. Leadership Vision Makes you a Participant
When I walk into a brand new place, I often have this inner dialogue – “Am I in the right room? Is this where we are supposed to meet? Where should we sit?“. On that day in 2009, I walked into the church, was immediately greeted with a big hug, from Linda, where she walked us to the front of the room and seated us alongside her team. She gave us materials and invited us to participate in the process. Because we were guests, I imagined sitting along the back wall on folding chairs, as observer. However, that is nothing like the Linda and Brian I know – nothing like the posture of Leadership Vision. Leadership Vision wraps you in, calling you to be a participant in the process of building a strong you, a strong team, and a strong culture. During that experience, I realized I wasn’t being treated special. Leadership Vision treats every participant with the respect of a long time friend.
The Journey Continues
That fall day in Portland, I held some authentic dollar bills in my hands. I got to participate. I saw the texture, the markings, and the quality of authentic leaders. I held relational excellence… I could smell it. This opportunity crystallized pieces of my own leadership which were authentic and revealed those that were not truly me. I knew I wanted to contribute, engage, and lead, in a way I had seen modeled through the Leadership Vision core process.
The possibility of joining the Leadership Vision team in 2016, was a dream come true. The promise of being surrounded by others who are leading in a relationally excellent way, and knowing I would be participating in something absolutely authentic, aligns with who I am as a leader. I know this environment will facilitate growth in my own leadership, those of my teammates, and those we work with.
As you think about your own Strengths, what about them are authentically you? What goals, standards, or measurement tools have you put in place in your personal life or for your team, which help you identify things that are counterfeit to your mission and purpose?