“We all long for significance, even as we fear we will never be good enough. We listen for God, but hear only voices of doubt and practicality. Listen again. There is a call that only you can answer.”
Jenni Catron’s excellent leadership book gets to the heart of the issue by investigating the key qualities that underline – and undermine – Christian leadership. She begins by looking at the weaknesses which can hold us back from effective leadership, things like perfectionism, insecurity and jealousy, which Catron calls ‘clout killers’. This first half of the book is easily the more insightful. Many books which focus on the qualities a leader should have can leave the reader feeling inadequate. By focusing first on leadership weaknesses, and telling her own stories of mistakes and failure, Catron encourages readers that any inadequacy they feel has been felt by many leaders before them, and can be improved upon.
The second half of the book looks at four ‘clout cultivators’: identity, confidence, mission and passion. While there is little revelatory in her discussion of these attributes, Catron’s continued reference to scripture is greatly appealing compared to other leadership texts. This is not a book of secular leadership theory airbrushed with Christian-ese; Catron understands that leadership is a calling from God and she firmly roots her discussion in this understanding.
Unlike most Christian authors on leadership, she also understands that this calling is not limited to the church sector and Christian ministry. Rather than contextualising her insights into church or workplace, she discusses leadership on a much broader level which fits well with the ethos of public leadership. Leadership is about influence, wherever you are called to display it.
Each chapter comes with a few discussion questions to help the reader think about their own leadership situation. For me, these questions would have been strengthened by more practical exercises to help me identify weaknesses, set goals and plan ways to strengthen my leadership.
My one major qualm with the book is the title, ‘clout’ and the derivatives ‘clout killer’ and ‘clout cultivator’. It is clear even from the subtitle that ‘clout’ simply means ‘influence’, raising the question of why the use of this lingo is necessary. The rest of the book is written in such easy-to-read language that the sporadic appearance of this unusual word – almost as if someone had used ‘find and replace’ to remove half the references to ‘influence’ in the book – became quickly irritating. Perhaps it was a necessary marketing ploy to help the book stand out in the crowd of leadership books.
The lingo is also one of the few instances where the book feels overtly American. While most (if not all) of the example stories told in the book are American, they could just as easily have been British.
Despite the irksome title, I would recommend this insightful book to anyone who feels they are held back from leadership by their insecurities and perceived inadequacies, whether known or unknown.
- Firmly rooted in scripture
- Relevant to Christian leadership in any context, not just churches
- A female author and perspective, though relevant to both genders
- Great insight explored through real stories
- ‘Clout’ lingo
- Little practical response