Over the course of the past week, I’ve struck gold! Jenni Catron’s new publication “The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership” is a goldmine for every leader who seeks refining in the private and public arena. I love to read just about anything. But I am a sucker for biographies, books on leadership, the craft and skill of expositional preaching and Christian living. This book merges and meshes biography, leadership and Christian living into one volume that is practical, portable and pregnant with leadership nuggets in layman’s terms.
To begin with, the author addresses, at the core, what she terms “…the DNA of extraordinary.” In unearthing the true definition of extraordinary, in relation to leadership, Catron contends, “…extraordinary leaders call others to their extraordinary best.” Using Christ, other biblical characters, modern-day leaders who’ve exceled and her own lessons of success and failure, she outlines the four aspects of leadership that essentially inspire and ignite others to not only follow the leader; but to develop as leaders. The four dimensions, Catron argues the power and resourcefulness of the Shema, also known as “The Great Commandment”; and its enormous implications for us as leaders. We can find the Great Commandment recorded in several of the gospels, quoting Hebrew literature. Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind and with all your strength.” In leading with all of who we are, for the sake of God and others, it requires my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. And to not give all of myself would, in turn, shortchange God and others.
Before exploring the 4 dimensions of heart (relational leadership), soul (spiritual leadership), mind (managerial leadership) and strength (visionary leadership), Catron delves into the three aspects that are essential to all four dimensions: the image of leadership (character), leading in chaos (embracing the tensions within leadership and inspiring others in the midst of tension), leading from within (leading ourselves well to lead others better). The author debunks the notion that all great leaders are extroverts, talkative, etcetera. In a real sense, there are great leaders who are introverts and act more than they make announcements. But one of the things she seeks to communicate is that our experiences in life influence how we lead our own selves and how we, in turn, lead others. Catron asserts that character (a word she uses quite frequently) is often defined as “who you are when no one is looking.” It means firmly pursing the elements that will grow you regardless of whether they get immediate attention by those who surround us or on a larger scale. Character is about pursuing Christlikeness. When it comes to the heart, one of the truths that stands out is the fact that people follow leaders not for the leader but for themselves. Extraordinary leadership has the ability to convince people of such. Relational leadership (from the heart) puts people work before paper work; and seeks to encourage and inspire others toward greatness and influence. Spiritual leadership (from the soul) contends that leadership always flourishes in the face of servanthood and submission. That while humility and submission are counterintuitive to today’s leadership paradigm, these virtues should anchor who we are as spiritual leaders who model the example of Christ. Managerial leadership (from the mind) puts intentional time and effort into building review processes and performance management systems that create effective dialogue between employees and their managers, according to Catron. And visionary leadership (from strength) requires the attributes of courage, patience, endurance, conviction and focus. A strong vision will inspire the team.
All in all, we can see Christ as the consummate example of these four dimensions of leadership on the extraordinary level.
I like this book; and I’ve enjoyed reading it as well. It is my hope to sift through it during the course of the coming year and share some of its highlights with the leaders I pour into. I give this book two thumbs up; and suggest it for leadership and laity alike!