How many times have you heard - “________ is a great clinician but a horrible boss/leader?” or maybe not heard it but you have thought it or said it to yourself.
OR maybe I hear it more than others because I am an independent clinical supervisor and I hold space with overwhelmed and frustrated counselors.
During these sessions, I try to remind the counselor that most clinicians who are placed in supervisory positions were not trained to lead. They were either forced into the position because of high turnover and no one else was there to do it or they were running low on fumes from direct service burnout and decided they would try their hand at being a supervisor/leader. In our masters programs, we are taught to be great clinicians but we are not taught how to lead.
On the other side, when I call out the leader inside of that counselor - the look of fear or deer in the headlights stare. As counselors, we are called to lead but at times we shrink back because we don’t want to be named as the “great clinician but horrible leader.” In our masters programs, we are taught to be clinicians but we are not shown how to take the same skills and become great leaders in our community and the profession.
During my doctoral studies, I researched leadership practices of Mental Health Counselors and leadership in the counseling profession. I posed a question, “are master’s level counselors adequately prepared for leadership roles in the profession?” The question posed could have been “do mental health counselors perceive themselves as leaders?”
I based my study on James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s Five Exemplary Leadership Practices. They have researched thousands of individuals about their “personal best” leadership experiences. They discovered five common practices that exemplary leaders engage:
Before I discuss each of the practices and define a leader, I want to leave this right here and ask you “Are you called to lead?” - leave a YES in the comments.
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Can I be honest with you?
After my brand launch, I experienced that feeling of let down. I did not feel much joy because I was still wrestling with what is next. This usually happens to me after I do something big or accomplish a hard earned goal. I believed that the brand launch would be the secret bullet to ease me into my purpose.
I knew I had a trip to the beach planned for the week after the launch. The beach is one of my happy places and it allows me to get quiet and listen. As I sat out on the balcony and watched the waves flow in and out, I found myself asking “Why do I struggle with easing into purpose?”
I could hear my spirit (God) speak “look at how the ocean flows in and out”. The ocean knows that it was created to be the ocean (identity). The ocean knows its purpose - to flow in and out by being a preserver of life. The ocean does not question whether it has the clarity, capacity, confidence and courage to be the ocean. Why do we?
The realization that when we are in alignment with who we were created to be and what we were created to do….it should flow like the ocean. Alignment with identity and purpose should be like breathing because it comes from the heart of God. In Genesis 1 - the bible speaks of how God spoke and the ocean took on its identity and purpose. The bible continue to speak of how God blew His breath into Adam and he took on his identity as man and was given purpose. I would like to believe that when God blow His breath into us in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) - is when our identity and purpose collides and our call to impact is awaken.
So you may be asking - why is it a struggle to ease into purpose? There are four areas of perceived lack that I have found that keeps us from flowing in the ease of purpose:
Lack of Clarity
The perception that we do not know who we are or what we were created to do is fostered by the avid clamor of outside noise. The way to gain clarity is to get quiet and ask yourself those deep questions. Who was I created to be? What was I created to do? The process of understanding you begins with YOU.
Lack of Capacity
The idea that we lack the capacity to be and do according to purpose. We believe that we do not have what it takes to go fully after what we truly desire. We are not filled vessels, we are able to give away our gifts through service and we receive from others through their gifts (Note: don’t misunderstand - I believe that our gifts make room for us and provides income). Write down what you believe that you do not have to complete the divine assignment and then ask God to fill you in those spaces. You have the capacity to do what you were created to do.
Lack of Confidence
Our level of confidence is tied to our belief in who we are and what we have the capacity to do in purpose. Remember that no one else can be a better you than you and you can not fail at being you. No, the journey will not be without missteps but it is your journey to purpose. Being confident in who you are evolves as you gain clarity about your authentic self and the capacity to which you are here to serve. This takes a mindset shift in how you see who you are and what you were created to do.
Lack of Courage
Courage allows us to foster the strength to do what frightens us. The ability to be and do has already been released inside of you to have impact in your community, profession and world. Psalm 27:14 reminds me that when I seek God and courage it will be given to me.
While at the beach, I was able to gain greater clarity about my purpose. I realized that I have the capacity to share my expertise and experience in leadership which will grow my confidence and courage as I serve through building community and connection.
Take a few minutes to get quiet and ask yourself - the following question:
Who was I created to be and what was I created to do- how am I limiting myself with my perceived lack of clarity, capacity, confidence and/or courage?
Leave your response in the comments.
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