Australian clergyman and ministry leader Daniel Willis had been filling in short-term as senior pastor for a transitioning church in Sydney, Australia when a colleague introduced him to the Leading From Your Strengths profile assessment.
The timing was providential. Daniel had become familiar with the church and had grown concerned about the transition it would face. The staff had been together for a considerable time and had let many areas slide.
As Daniel and the staff worked through the profile, they discovered that each team member had similar strengths. “The previous leader had gathered people around himself who were like him,” says Daniel. “There were gaps in ministry.” The profiles provided a foundation for the team to work and communicate together more effectively as they prepared to call and transition a new lead pastor.
But the process did more than that. It helped individual team members who were at a crossroads … and ultimately many more leaders across the globe.
Leaders Grow, Too
Although years in business and ministry meant that Daniel had completed many other assessments in the past and was fairly aware of his strengths, he took the profile along with the team – and noted LFYS was markedly different.
“LFYS showed me how I had adapted my strengths across my roles in order to function well in the current situation,” says Daniel. “It also helped me see how people perceived me, particularly in times of extreme stress.”
Such was also the case with another team member, Mike, who tried to focus the group’s discussion on how others perceived him. Mike’s need to please others had led him to become overworked, affecting his health to the point of burnout.
“I was able to work with Mike over the course of the transition year,” said Daniel. The parish eldership also partnered with Mike, his medical doctor, wife, and a small personal support group to help this overworked staffer bring balance and health back into his life. Since then, the new lead pastor joined the staff knowing how to best help Mike use his strengths.
Leaders Worldwide Can Grow, Too
What may be surprising to many, Daniel has discovered, is that the Leading From Your Strengths profile bridges cultures to produce helpful results.
Since his introduction to the assessment, Daniel has used the profile with business and ministry leaders across the globe in his work with the Bible Society NSW, The Lausanne Movement, and GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference). He regularly experiences the profile’s tremendous value with pastoral groups, such as most recently at a pastor’s conference in Togo, West Africa. Participating pastors were able to complete the profile in their native French and then work through the English workbook tools with Daniel and translators.
The results were powerful. “I was not intending coming to this conference but the organizer persisted in asking me,” said one pastor. “I thought if I put in an appearance on Day One I would then not need to attend any further days. That first evening we completed the LFYS profile. I was intrigued to find out the results, so I returned. I did not know that someone could know me so well with a few questions … I discovered that I am unable to say no and so am overworked. I have no strategic priorities set for my ministry. The results of this assessment have helped me see what I need to do.”
Six of the participants at the conference were members of the same team. Over the course of the conference, their leader experienced a “Eureka!” moment. “He suddenly understood the different people on his team and why he was experiencing frustration,” said Daniel. “He expected them all to be like him.” By plotting each team member on the Strengths Wheel, this leader was able to see the strength of the whole team. The tool helped him to realize that one team member would never be a “first chair” leader but would always be in a supporting role.
Because the profile transcends cultural differences, it has also become a cornerstone in Daniel’s international mentoring ministry. “The first thing I ask my mentee to complete is the Leading From Your Strengths assessment,” says Daniel. He and the mentee begin using the data immediately. Right now Daniel is mentoring young leaders in 18 countries on 6 continents. Now, moving forward in his role in developing the next generation of younger leaders with The Lausanne Movement’s YLGEN ministry, Daniel will suggest that mentors use the LFYS tool as they guide emerging leaders across the globe.
“Leading From Your Strengths has specific value to ministry,” says Daniel. Other assessments, he says, don’t distinguish between Kingdom business and the business of the world – an enormous distinction in leadership development.
“This is a great tool to help leaders across the globe,” says Daniel. “It helps them become the leaders they want and need to be under the refining hand of God.”