Leading from Within: The Role of the Leader
Thank you for showing up as the Divine at Unity of Fort Collins and especially as a team leader or a team member. Did you know that there is a philosophy behind the grand purpose of that we call TEAMS? I just came across a good description of our philosophy in a book that was handed to me several months ago. It was sitting under others stacked on my desk. It is Circular Leadership by Linda Roebuck. I believe a few at UFC were discussing this book several months ago.
I thought I would take the liberty of quoting extensively from Circular Leadership and by placing a copy in the Unity of Fort College library if you want to read more. I am quoting Linda’s words creatively as a discussion. They are found in Chapter 4, Leading from Within.
Linda: I was once leading a fledgling group, A Community of Transformation. I asked myself “How was I supposed to lead an amazing group of leaders who had shown up? What characteristics would I need to cultivate and demonstrate? When would I step in? When would I step back? “
Jim: Those are good questions! I also asked these same questions during this past year. What were your answers?
Linda: Well, I found that a basic requirement for success is to know who is in charge of your life. Are you the one running the show, or do you believe that a higher power has the ultimate control over your life? Getting clarity and peace on this question reveals the potential for being a successful leader.
Knowing my purpose required delving into key questions: Who am I? Why am I here? I still ask these questions as I continue to evolve. I believe the role of a leader calls for continuous inner work, questioning beliefs, and releasing limiting inner thoughts and patterns. It is about getting real with self and looking at all my strengths, qualities, and character traits, both negative and positive.
What I quickly learned about leading is that leaders must first be the leader of their own self. This means letting go of expectations and acknowledging that I was not in charge. My not being in charge meant surrendering to what was in charge: the Divine within. My role is to maintain my own connection to Source, to hold space for others to connect; and, to set the intention and boundaries so everyone could comfortably show up and fully play their part. My role is not to lead the group, but to occasionally guide the energy that empowers the group.
Jim: I appreciate last sentence because it is a key to our leadership at Unity of Fort Collins. I also work on my role to not lead the group, but to occasionally guide the energy that empowers the group.
Linda: There was not enough structure and definition in those early months for the group to take ownership of its own path. Someone had to lead them through the process for the initial steps. Since there was a vision they had shown up for, it was to be my responsibility in those early meetings to define, unify, and evolve the conversations into that shared vision.”
Jim: Just as you experienced at A Community of Transformation that was evolving in the early days, Anne, Sharon, Julie, and myself are defining, unifying, and evolving some ideas, initially, that is the vision here at UFC. Our inner challenge is to quiet our human selves or personality, that wants to be in control, to seek approval, recognition, and acceptance by others. It is to separate our needs from the needs of the TEAMS, We are learning about a different type of discernment, primarily how to discern what is not for leaders to do. Often, we have to discern how to support the members of the group so that they can self-identify their own contributions or roles on any topic. Things flow naturally, once we stop trying to always define what is for church leaders to do. Our centering practice has became a simple process with huge benefits: We pause, we take a breath, and go within. In the quiet moment we turn inward, to what we can call our internal feeling barometer, or my IFB. It always lets us know if we are coming from a loving place or a fear-based place.
If we are trying to make something happen, worrying about how to get what we think is right, or struggling to figure out why we had to play a role that was not aligned with truth, our IFB registers fear! Another issue that caused our IFB to be fearful was when we would think someone or something outside of us had to change. This was another opportunity for us to let go and to trust that our intention was being met or would be manifested.”
Linda: “When I found myself acting from a place of fear, I usually found an underlying feeling of not being good enough, smart enough, or worthy. I then made a conscious choice to shift to a more loving place – a place of self-love. Only then could I set the space for the group to be in a place of love instead of bringing my fears into the mix. This forced me to develop a level of trust in myself that I had not previously known, one where I trusted that I was truly leading from within.
I was becoming a leader without taking away anyone else’s power. For me, this trust was anchored in a personal peace that comes from trusting in the Divine. By trusting the part of me that is one with the Divine it is easy to allow the perfect outcome to manifest. All I had to do was get out of my own way.
Jim: Yes, Linda! This is a spiritual practice that we are now deeply dedicated to at UFC. I trust we can all practice it and encourage it in one another.