You have the capacity to become an extraordinary leader—if you are willing to embrace a deeper definition of leadership and take action to apply it.
In The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, Jenni Catron, executive church leader and author of Clout, reveals the secrets to standout leadership found in the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Weaving a winsome narrative filled with inspiring real-life stories, hard-won wisdom, and practical applications, Catron unpacks four essential aspects of growing more influential: your heart for relational leadership, your soul for spiritual leadership, your mind for managerial leadership, and your strength for visionary leadership.
Leadership isn’t easy, but it is possible to move from ordinary to extraordinary. Jenni Catron shows the way.
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About the Author
Jenni Catron is part of the central leadership team at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. She served for nine years as the executive director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where she led the staff and oversaw the ministry of its five campuses. Prior to joining Cross Point, she worked as an Artist Development Director in the Christian music industry for nine years. She lives in Menlo Park, California.
Read an Excerpt
The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership
The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength
By JENNI CATRON
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Jennifer Catron a/k/a Jenni Catron
All rights reserved.
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
— Jim Rohn
What is your new job, Jenni?"
"I'm the shared resources leader at Menlo Church."
"What exactly do you do?"
And right about there is where the conversation gets stuck. I can't begin to explain the strained expressions and confused looks my new title has caused people in the last months. In March 2014, I made a major career leap from executive director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, to join the central leadership team at Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California.
It was a big move in a number of ways — emotionally, physically, culturally — you name it, we experienced it. My husband and I were well loved by friends and family, who supported us and encouraged us through the transition. We frequently addressed questions about the move date, when we'd visit again, where we'd be living, and so on, but then I'd often get one more question: "So, what exactly is it you'll be doing?" Repeatedly people would be tripped up by the new title: "shared resources leader." The function of my new job was actually very similar to the role I'd had at Cross Point, but the title gave people very little context to understand it.
Puzzled by how frequently I received that question, I began to wonder what it was about the title that made it feel so vague. Then it dawned on me that the key word in my title was not manager or director; it was leader. Our corporate cultures and hierarchies have conditioned us to know how to position these more common titles, but the word leader is vague. Although the word has many definitions, it is difficult to pin down the concepts of leaders and leadership.
"What does leadership mean to you?" The number of times I've been asked that question is exasperating. And the number of times I couldn't answer it or fumbled over flimsy definitions and half-baked arguments is even more irritating.
What is leadership? The term could benefit from a redefinition, couldn't it? The subject of leadership evokes angst, opposition, elitism, skepticism, fear, and favor. People who aren't leaders often claim to be. Strong leaders often run from accepting leadership. Those afraid of authority revolt against those in leadership positions.
I understand the tension. I can't help but cringe at some of the ways the word leadership gets used.
We diminish the word's power when we argue that everyone is a leader because everyone leads someone. I understand this definition. I don't completely disagree with it, but it's not exactly complete. I would clarify it: we all have influence with others, but that doesn't necessarily make you a great leader. Leadership begins with influence. But leadership isn't simply influence.
We don't refer to the tyrants of history as leaders, but if our definition of leadership is simply influence, then horrific people like Adolf Hitler are leaders. If in my aspiration to become a leader, I'm going to find my name among the ranks of a Nazi terror, no thank you. I'll move on and do something different. I want to aspire to something great. I want to make a difference, leave a mark. I want to influence people's lives — for good. If the continuum of leadership runs the gamut from Adolf Hitler to Mother Teresa, our definition is too broad. It's cumbersome. We lack common language, and therefore we lack focus in understanding what it means to be a leader.
I believe that at its core, the word leadershipis an observation of greatness. Leadership is rarely observable in the moment, but it is recognizable in outcomes. In the book Greatness, Steven F. Hayward says, "Typically we only recognize greatness in hindsight." Additionally, he writes, "Greatness is not purely circumstantial. Greatness is ultimately a question of character. Good character does not change with the times: it has eternal qualities." That thought resonates with the spirit of leading from our heart, soul, mind, and strength, doesn't it? Great leadership is an action; it's a lifestyle. A lifestyle of leading from our whole selves — heart, soul, mind, and strength.
In an article titled "What Is Leadership?," Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse wrestles with some of the popular definitions of leadership:
"The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers." — Peter Drucker
"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." — Warren Bennis
"As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." — Bill Gates
"Leadership is influence — nothing more, nothing less." — John Maxwell
Kruse argues that these definitions are incomplete, and he provides his own: "Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal."
Kruse's definition is a strong one. It takes into account the importance of influence rather than position or authority; it entails the mobilization of others toward a goal. It suggests employing relational (heart) equity to help others catch your vision (strength) and manage (mind) them to help accomplish the goal. Soul is obviously lacking in this definition. And there is one more thing Kruse's definition omits, something I believe is essential for extraordinary leaders. Before we can lead others from our heart, soul, mind, and strength, there is a key first step. I believe it is the starting point of leadership. To lead others well, we must first lead ourselves better.
Extraordinary leaders learn to lead themselves first. They develop the discipline to understand their motivations, to continually evaluate their emotional health, to manage their physical health, and to nurture their spiritual life. From the overflow of their understanding of themselves, leaders can then focus on the priority of leadership: leading others.
As we discuss the dimensions of an extraordinary leader, I hope to inspire you to embrace this definition of leadership:
Extraordinary leadership is found in a leader who has searched to discover his or her authentic self and from that place influences others to accomplish great dreams through intentional relationships (heart), spiritual awareness (soul), wise counsel (mind), and relentless vision (strength).
Learning to live out this definition is the journey that we're going to take together. Now that we have an idea of what leadership is, we need to understand where leadership begins.
Before we dig too deep, I want to invite you to take an assessment I've created to help you diagnose where you are right now. Understanding where we are in our leadership journey equips us to develop a plan for where we want to go. This assessment will give you an idea of where you are naturally strong as a leader and help you define the areas that will enable you to grow into the extraordinary leader you desire to be. Moving from ordinary to extraordinary is a progression, not an overnight process. Extraordinary is a result of a hungry, teachable attitude and a commitment to consistent growth and progress.
Extraordinary Leadership Assessment
To start, read the statements below and circle the ones you most identify with. Try not to spend time analyzing the statements; instead, respond with your initial instinct. Be honest with yourself, and circle only the statements that describe who you are today — not the statements that describe who you would like to be.
* I subscribe to blogs and e-mail newsletters that explore my industry, and I like to read them daily.
* When meeting with an employee, I first like to hear about his or her family and how he or she is doing personally.
* I pray for my team members regularly.
* I believe wholeheartedly in the vision of my organization.
* I plan regular events or outings to celebrate my team members and let them know they're appreciated.
* I set goals with and for my team members and create follow-up plans to measure the results.
* When my schedule for the day starts to get out of hand, I stop, look at it, and quickly prioritize, turning down or rescheduling the non-urgent tasks.
* When deadlines are looming, I tend to focus more on the tasks that need to be accomplished than the people doing the tasks.
* I avoid gossip, complaints, and criticism in my daily speech and conversations.
* I regularly let my team members know that they are valuable to our organization and their work is essential to the mission.
* I know my strengths and like to focus on working in those areas while delegating the items I'm not as strong at.
* I'm always looking for opportunities to connect my team's everyday work to the big picture of our vision and to share that connection with my team.
* I'm good at defining systems and strategies and holding my team accountable to them.
* I seek opportunities to encourage those I lead by praising them and giving them feedback to help them develop further.
* I pray for wisdom for my team members so that they will grow in influence.
* I judge my success as a leader by how well I'm serving my team.
* I feel stronger at painting the big picture than fleshing out the minute details.
* I devote time to meeting with a mentor or group of people who are ahead of me and who help stretch my thinking and challenge me.
* I want my team members to know that they are loved and that they can talk to me about anything.
* My leadership position is not just a job to me — it's where I live out my strongest convictions, passions, and hopes for the future.
* I regularly take stock of my spiritual growth.
* I sometimes get distracted by worrying if my leaders or team members like me.
* If I don't know how to do something, I do research and learn how to do it or I assign it to someone who knows how to do it.
* I feel a great responsibility to God for how I lead my team and pray for his guidance daily.
* I am always dreaming up new ideas for building my team/business and can't wait to implement them.
* It frustrates me if I'm not able to communicate to my team members the "heart" behind a decision I've made that affects them.
* I believe my spiritual health has a direct effect on my leadership ability.
* I regularly review my team's meeting structure to see which meetings are necessary and to ensure we're making the most of our time and resources.
Now tally the number of statements you circled for each symbol/dimension of leadership.
Which dimension (or two) did you most identify with? These are the areas where you are probably naturally strong as a leader. The dimensions you didn't identify with as much are the areas with room for growth. Keep these results in mind as you continue reading.
Where Do Leaders Come From?
Christine was born to lead. From the day she could talk, she began bossing her siblings around. On Saturday afternoons she could be found rallying the neighborhood kids for a game of kickball or organizing a quest to capture butterflies. In school she easily excelled and was consistently at the top of her class while also donning the titles of homecoming queen and student body president. She was gregarious and charming, smart and strong. People followed her with ease, and her influence didn't slow down throughout college and into her career. If ever a leader appeared to be a natural, it was Christine.
There is an ongoing debate in schools of leadership theory as to whether leaders are born or made. It's leadership's version of the chicken or the egg conundrum. Are you born with the ability to lead or is leadership something you develop?
I believe it's both. You can be born with a natural propensity, an innate wiring to be a great leader, much like Christine was. Potential leaders are born with natural instincts and personality traits that equip them for leadership, but I also believe that leadership has to be developed. Without development, that gift could remain idle or, worse, be misused. A key part of Christine's story is that although she showed early signs of leadership, it was the intentionality of her parents, teachers, and mentors that helped foster her natural leadership strengths and enabled her to thrive and grow.
While some are born with leadership instincts, others find themselves placed into positions of leadership whether they're naturally gifted for it or not. That was certainly the case with Greg, the leader we discussed in the introduction. While he was obviously born with leadership instincts, he was thrown into the deep end of the leadership pool when he found himself heading up a company he had not aspired to lead. He was placed in a position of leadership that exceeded his experience to that point.
Some are born with leadership gifts. Others are placed into positions of leadership. But whether you are a born leader or have been placed into leadership, you will not automatically develop into a great leader. These opportunities have simply given you the influence to lead. You become a leader when you develop the skills and the competence to put that influence into action. I wholeheartedly believe that with focus and intentionality you can grow and develop into a great leader.
A Fast Company article says this:
The first thing Tom Kolditz wants you to know about leaders is that most of them didn't emerge from diapers to direct teams naturally. "If you look at the research done, the qualities leaders were born with, [such as] intelligence and attractiveness, account for 30 percent of leadership," says the retired brigadier general, who spent the last 12 years of his career running the leadership program he developed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
"What that means is that 70 percent is learned — from your parents or the school of hard knocks or leader development programs. That's a big part that is malleable and attainable through training," he says.
While there is a certain element of leadership that may be imparted to us, those of us who aspire to grow as leaders must cultivate our growth. To really develop as a leader takes teaching and coaching. In that way, you could argue that leaders are made. Great leadership doesn't just magically happen. We have to study, learn, pray, and keep at it, learning from every circumstance and opportunity.
What Do We Do with It?
Accept the Responsibility of Leadership
Extraordinary leaders know that their leadership gifts and abilities are not for their own benefit. The gift of leadership is a gift to you to give to others. Extraordinary leaders are other-centric. They recognize that leadership at its core is an act of service. It's living out the second half of the Great Commandment: Love God. Love others.
The influence we earn as leaders is not for the purpose of wielding power. It's for the purpose of loving others enough to help them develop and use their gifts. It's for rallying a group of people to accomplish an audacious goal. It's for helping others realize their dreams. It's for calling others to growth and improvement in ways that motivate and inspire them to do their best.
Jesus modeled the responsibility of leadership in the way he engaged with his disciples in everyday life. From washing their feet in an act of humility and service, to directing them to feed the thousands, to sharing quiet times of prayer and reflection, to painting the picture of their responsibility once he was gone, Jesus loved and led his disciples with the purpose of helping them grow and develop. It wasn't about him; it was about them.
Excerpted from The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership by JENNI CATRON. Copyright © 2015 Jennifer Catron a/k/a Jenni Catron. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: The DNA of Extraordinary, xiii,
Part 1 From Ordinary to Extraordinary, 1,
Chapter 1 Imagine Extraordinary, 3,
Chapter 2 Leading in Chaos, 17,
Chapter 3 Leading from Within, 33,
Part 2 The Dimensions of Extraordinary, 59,
Chapter 4 Lead with All Your Heart, 61,
Chapter 5 Lead with All Your Soul, 87,
Chapter 6 Lead with All Your Mind, 113,
Chapter 7 Lead with All Your Strength, 137,
Part 3 The Practice of Extraordinary Leadership, 165,
Chapter 8 Putting Extraordinary into Practice, 167,
Epilogue: You Were Born to Be Extraordinary, 183,
About the Author, 199,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Some of the thoughts that go through my mind when I consider a book to review are: Will this book help my kids? Would this have been a great/fun/helpful/wonderful book to have had when they were younger? Will this book help me be a better teacher/mother/guide? Will my readers think this might be helpful to them? Because, well, that’s the passage of life that I’m in right now. And it’s all good although we clearly have a houseful of children now, in just a few short years they’ll be going out into the world, testing the waters. They won’t start as leaders, but they should know what good leadership looks like, and have goals to work towards. I think that The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership offers all of that, but I found that it addresses life in a more comprehensive way than I anticipated. Author Jenni Catron takes us into her own life experience – she’s a great guide, because her job is being a leader. So she’s able to really break down and make clear the components not only of leadership itself, but truly extraordinary leadership. She goes on to make a truly compelling case that this sort of extraordinary leadership is founded approaching leadership from four aspects: Heart Soul Mind Strength Catron lets us take a little self assessment where we begin to see our areas of strength (on which we tend to rely) and weakness (which we will often neglect). She points out that all four areas require our focus, because it’s a guarantee — those who we are leading will not all work in the same manner that we do. Some will rely and process through aspects from which we may naturally retreat. She gives us the benefit of her experience and guidance in facing and developing all the aspects of our leadership, so that we, as great leaders do, can truly serve those who are following us. I enjoyed this book because it turned out to be far more applicable – and immediately so – than I expected. You don’t need to be a CEO, have a downline of thousands, or be an elected official to benefit greatly from this book. But, you may find that reading this book will help you get there, and it certainly will help you do so with less stress, more success, and more success for everyone in your organization. I received a complimentary copy of The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership for review purposes. Any opinion expressed here is mine alone.
We may as well say it straight out – Leadership is messy. And we all interact with leadership in some way. Whether it is at work, church, with family, or relationships, our lives are impacted by leadership. If our desire is to lead well, we must continually develop for leadership will require everything of us. In her book, The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership: The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength, Jenni Catron explores what it takes to become an extraordinary leader, one who will call others to also become leaders who accomplish extraordinary things as well. She explains: “Great leadership is rare because it takes work. It takes intentionality. It requires sacrifice. It takes resolve. It involves heartaches, disappointments, and mistakes. It requires apologies. It entails a daily dose of humility. It means relentless growth and frequent failure. Extraordinary leadership isn’t easy, but it is possible. “ She reveals that the secret to extraordinary leadership lies in this verse, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all you strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NLT) If we are going to become extraordinary leaders, then we need to develop in these four areas: heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jenni explains each area with a warmth and understanding which makes application of the principles shared seem effortless. She shares her experiences and quotes from others producing an invaluable resource for any leader. Her words ring true as she writes transparently of her own growth and desire to be all that God has called her to be. The 4 Dimensions is not only a book for leaders to read, but for all of us who long to reach our full potential in and through Christ. I encourage you to take the leadership assessment which she offers. “As a leader, you must commit to constant learning and be a fanatic about it.” May we be committed to our growth because our God is committed to us. All quotes taken from: Catron, J. (2015). The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership: The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson. *I was given an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.