Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Personality or Substance - What kind of leader are you?

Yesterday was a first for me.

I had the privilege of working in the federal election of my home country Canada. My role was to serve electors and help them cast their vote. It was an exhilarating experience to observe democracy and freedom in action.

As I watched all the activities and events leading up to election, I couldn't help but be reminded of a key concept that I've continued to learn as a leader; that being the principle of personality or substance.

There will be a lot of different political satire pieces dispersed in the world of the inter-web today, but this my friends isn't one of them.

It's true that this election process has reminded me of this leadership principle most recently, but it is my drive and passion as a dad that truly inspires me to understand the relationship between personality and substance. This is a non-partisan conversation about leadership, being a dad and desiring to disciple those in my sphere of influence to be all they have been created to be.


I love all of my children dearly!! Each of them is amazingly unique. It just so happens that what I'm learning today relates more directly to Deklon at the moment.

My son Deklon shares some similarities with our newly elected Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau. Both men can enter a room, entertain their community and leave people wanting more.

The greatest challenge that I face as a dad to Deklon is to teach him to use his talent for inspiring and captivating people to draw them into the depth of substance...because substance is where people will truly grow and develop, and personality come sometimes be a barrier to this growth and development.

Suppose I tell you the story of a woman who lights up the room every time she walks in. Friends, colleagues, strangers...they all admire her for the beauty she possesses that transcends her stunning outward appearance. She is elevated to a position of power and influence because of this gift, and uses it to reshape the course of history for generations to come.

What would you say were her most important gifts, talents and abilities to have been able to create this new future?

This story is a true story. It's the story of a woman named Esther, which is recorded in the bible (read it here). Esther inspires a king, who makes her his queen so that she can be used by God to create a hope and future for her people...her tribe. It's the depth of her character that allows her personality to flourish and grow into something beautiful.

Being a leader

All leaders face the tension of personality or substance. The most prolific ones are those who can learn to marry personality and substance together to create a hope and a future. 

Brody Jesperson, a friend of mine, recently posted this on Facebook - "What you attract people with will be what they are attracted to." 

He shared this in the context of being a youth minister. It can be very tempting to use hype and mystery to draw a crowd, but also very humbling when you recognize that hype is a permeable thing, shifting effortlessly and simultaneously all at once...don't believe me, watch a Jays game in the playoffs this year!!

Leadership is different...it has to be. People rely on leaders to be persons of integrity, of hope, of stability and of future thinking. Leaders can possess a dynamic personality, but they don't always have to. The character behind the personality leads to the future, not the other way around.

As a leader I ask myself these gut check questions:

1. Is this about me or something greater than I?
2. Can I see beyond myself in this moment?
3. What is the long-term reality of this decision I am making?
4. Who am I allowing to speak into my life to help shape my present and my future?
5. Am I teachable and willing to learn?

When you come face to face with the tension that can be a personality or substance dichotomy, how do you respond?

My hope

My hope for my son Deklon and all other folks who are gifted with a dynamic personality is that they would learn to marry substance with their gift: leading from a place that is full of integrity, honesty, goodness and the future. 

I'm praying for my son. I cannot wait to see how him grow and develop. I pray for him like I pray for his sister Saydie, his brother Cannon and the child we are waiting to add to our family through adoption. I pray for their hope and future.

And I pray for you reader...you brave soul who chose to click on a link to the ramblings of a crazy Canadian. May you be inspired to merge your personality with substance to create something beautiful!