To grow we must confront our own immaturity, selfishness and lack of courage.

To grow we must confront our own immaturity, selfishness and lack of courage.

We have the afternoon off at the Arrow residential conference so I thought I would take the chance to catch up on a bit of email and record a couple of reflections about what I have been learning so far.

Arrow ( is a program for mentoring and encouraging emerging leaders in the Australian Christian church. I am now into my second year and have found it extremely helpful. The arrow process consists of four 5 day conferences over two years, as well as a list of books to read and a weekly journal to use as the basis of reflection.

The speakers at the conference are some of the best in the country and the material is very useful, but one of the other aspects of the program that is possibly just as important is getting the chance to engage with a group of people who are all in leadership positions in churches or Christian organisations and yet come from very different backgrounds.

I really enjoyed, for instance, trying to understand the heart of the approach taken by Sydney Anglicans through catching up with a couple of the guys here. I  come from a very different background and have different understandings, but it is great to be able to seek to understand people who are in a very different ministry context to me.

Karl Faase took us for Change Management today, and one of the most helpful parts of it for me was the first session where Karl pointed out that before we look to change an organisation we need to be ready to look at ourselves and face the things in us that might need to change.

He quoted Robert Quinn from the book Deep Change who wrote:

The problem is that to grow we must confront our own immaturity, selfishness and lack of courage.

I know that there is a part of me that just doesn’t want to hear that quote because it is so true.

Karl got us to do an exercise he found in the book Immunity to change which was called an immunity x-ray.

Basically you draw four columns across a page and write on top of the first column the title, Visible commitment. Under that heading you name something you know you need to change about yourself, something you would tell other people you want to change. This can be anything from losing weight to being more organised or spending more time with your family.

In the second column you write the heading Doing/Not doing instead and write down what you are currently doing instead of the behaviour that you said you wanted to change. This is a bit confronting because you need to actually name your own behaviour for what it is.

That, though is not the hard part, the hard part is column three, which you name Hidden competing commitments, and in this column you need to tell on yourself. This is where you need to acknowledge what the payoff is from the behavior you have listed in column two. There must be a payoff otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it.

The final column his headed Big assumptions and in this column you make visible to yourself what the assumptions are behind your hidden competing commitments. Again this takes a fair bit of honesty that may be a little bit painful.

I found the exercise very helpful and want to keep wrestling with it for a while. Karl encouraged us to share the results with someone we trust so there can be a level of accountability, which makes sense but again requires some courage.

I’m grateful, though that we tackled the topic of organizational change from this perspective. As Karl pointed out, it is easy to learn the theory of change management and to think it is about us changing them.

One of my favourite quotes about leadership is that

All organisations are simply the lengthened shadow of the leader.

If that quote is even close to true then organisational change is about either changing the leader, or changing the leader, not so much about changing the people (or though that can be a result).

Arrow always seems to give me plenty to think about!

I'd love to hear what you think...

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