Complexities in Leadership, Part One

In this episode of the podcast, Dan is joined by Cathy Loerzel, Executive Vice President of The Allender Center, to talk about the realities and complexities of being a leader. Dan believes that people who are good leaders are also reluctant leaders, a theme you will hear throughout their conversation.

Dan: I believe, at the depths of my being, that people who are good leaders are reluctant leaders. Who, in many ways, don’t have the ambition to lead but end up finding themselves nonetheless in a position in which they get cornered by God.

Cathy: Even when you start talking about leadership, immediately there’s something in me that wants to run the other direction. As soon as you name yourself a leader or believe you have something to say on how to lead there are problems that immediately come to bear.

Cathy notes that leadership isn’t something one necessarily chooses, but something that is inside of you. She illustrates by describing how she took charge of a group photo that was not going well until she stepped in to help organize its participants.

Cathy: There’s something in me that’s always standing back and seeing if there is going to be somebody else to step forward. And when I see no one stepping forward … it becomes impossible for me not to step in.

Dan asks Cathy how she came to be a leader, and Cathy responds by telling the story of her formative years, and how in multiple instances, even at the tender age of five, she learned to create order both at home and in the classroom.

Cathy: There’s something to leading where you have to be a little bit fearless. Someone has to be at the helm saying “We’re going to go this way, and I think we’re going to find land.” If you don’t have that person then there’s going to be chaos.

Dan: How do you bear the cost? You’ve known there will be a cost to [leadership] that is on most occasions greater than the so-called benefit. So how have you stayed the course?

In response, Cathy acknowledges the loneliness, isolation, and scapegoating that occurs when someone becomes a leader. Being a leader does not mean your tasks will get easier, rather the opposite, so learning to develop resilience has been important in Cathy’s leadership journey. She also recognizes the importance of surrounding yourself with mentors and people who can be a steadying presence in your life.

To close, Dan says the process of leading is worth nothing if it does not call him to be a better person, to be more connected with his friends and colleagues, and to connect him to his relationship with Jesus.