I was recently given a copy of a book by author, artist, musician, and fellow rebel John Voelz. The book was Quirky Leadership from Abingdon Press. I was intrigued by the title and, knowing JVo, I was looking forward to his particular slant on the broad subject of leadership.
The first thing you’ll notice is the chapter titles.
Actually, that’s not probably first thing you notice. You’ll probably see the cover first. It’s quirky. But after you open the book, you may run into the chapter titles. Many of JVo’s chapter titles are nods to classic songs – one is even a line from a movie (perhaps the best one-liner ever written for and delivered on the silver screen):
You’re So Quirky (I Bet You Think This Chapter’s About You)
I Know What I Know If You Know What I Mean
Whooooo Are You?
Will the Real [Leader’s Name Here] Please Stand Up?
I’ll Have What She’s Having
With titles like that you expect/hope that you’re going to at least have a little fun while learning about leadership. And who doesn’t like a little fun?
I don’t often say of any book – much less a leadership book – that I couldn’t put it down. The truth is I couldn’t put Quirky Leadership down. I read the entire book in two sittings. Quirky Leadership is a breath of fresh air. It is permission-giving. Rather than trying to fit you into a particular “leadership mold,” Voelz allows you to celebrate your individuality as a leader, recognizing that you were created by God with a unique mix of gifts, talents, and yes, quirks. Those uniquenesses make you who you are and allow you to lead uniquely and creatively.
Voelz puts it best in Chapter 1:
This is not a book about what deficiencies you need to sharpen in order to lead better. This is not a book about discovering your holes and how to patch them. This book will not give you a diagram of the perfect leader who is someone other than you.
This book is about discovering who you are as a leader, remembering who and what you are called to lead in your specific situation, identifying the things that make you a unique leader in your context and culture, celebrating those things, and communicating them well.
This book is also not about building other leaders. It’s a little self-centered. This was a choice on my part because I believe there is a myth in Christian circles that the best leaders spend most of their time building other leaders. While building other leaders is a stellar, worthy goal, this book is designed to be a path of discovery in order to give you permission and confidence to lead all those people by first understanding what the heck you believe about leadership.
Voelz then goes on to lay out a grid for understanding your particular brand of quirkiness and using it to lead well. I especially liked his use of “plumblines” and the way they help define the leadership grid of Coriolis (the leadership team) at his church (Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI).
In addition, I really resonated with this quote:
To lead effectively in the specific ways God has shaped you in your specific culture and circumstances, there is a necessary process of discovery in determining what you already believe about leadership, ministry, church, and mission:
1. Know Your Story
2. List Your Labels
3. Identify Your Quirks
4. Publish Your Plumblines
5. Celebrate It All
There are a lot of books on leadership out there. Heck, just the books by John Maxwell would fill the leadership section at most bookstores. Quirky Leadership is different… in a good way. If you are a solo leader, this would be a great book for you to read. If you lead a team, I would highly recommend you take your team through this book. Also, make sure you check out the companion website to the book for more great thinking on and exercises for your quirky leadership.