The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast: Episode 4
Welcome to The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast from rhondapeterson.com. This is Rhonda Peterson your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Today we welcome Christina Horning, who goes by Tini, to the Bold & Courageous Podcast. Tini works with Campus Crusade for Christ in Germany. She is here with me today to share her leadership journey. So Tini let’s open up by having you tell me a little bit about yourself.
Tini: I studied Elementary Education in Ohio. I come from Ohio. I was a kindergarten teacher for three years and did high school ministry parallel to teaching and discovered I that I wanted to try something else out to spend more time investing in young people which led me to Campus Crusade, which is a ministry that works with different groups of people. I specifically work with college students and I came to Germany to invest in college students, to walk along side of them spiritually because I didn’t really have someone to walk along side of me spiritually as a young adult and would’ve liked to have had that. So, basically, in a nutshell, what we do at Campus Crusade is come alongside people who are on a faith journey, whether they are Christians or not, seeking out to know more about Christianity. I’ve been doing ministry for over ten years in Frieburg Germany in the Black Forest, and my role has changed over those years from an intern, to a staff person, to I think about three years ago, I started leading the student leaders of the ministry and about a year ago I started leading the staff team which is currently about six people; three interns and three staff people.
Rhonda: You’ve really had an interesting leadership journey with Campus Crusade. Can you tell me about some of the key experiences that have shaped your leadership journey?
Tini: It’s a mixture of words of encouragement, insights from other people that have seen things in me that I haven’t seen in myself or haven’t been able to believe. And sadly both in a positive and in a negative way; learning through experiences, learning through my failures as a leader, through my mistakes. For example, the importance of truth and trust and communication with the people who lead. Also just discovering who I am as a leader; through training, through looking at different leadership styles, through personal reflection, through coaching experiences and through reading books and through different leadership events and through multiplication or learning from others and passing what I’ve learned onto others.
Rhonda: So, from what you just said about multiplication, it sounds like your leadership journey is not just those you’re leading but those you’re being led by. That’s an interesting observation.
Tini: I think we consciously and unconsciously learn and are influenced by the people around us. Especially when you step into a new role, I think you think back, reflect on who, how we were led. Just as when we think about how you’re raised and how some things are just normal. Then you meet other people who may have different habits and you realize that things you thought were normal are habits. And I think it’s the same with leadership because when you’re led by someone and you get used to a certain leadership style, that influences you. If that makes sense.
Rhonda: It makes a lot of sense to me. I love what you just said about things you think are normal are just habits. I’ve never thought of it that way. That is so true. That’s amazing.
Tini: I just came up with it.
Rhonda: I think it was a God thing, Tini girl.
Rhonda: Can you share with us who made the biggest impact on your leadership and why do you think they made such a big impact.
Tini: I think it’s really hard to say one person. I would definitely say the coaching sessions with you, Rhonda have impacted me in a great way in discovering who I am as a leader and being ok with that. Accepting it with the strengths and weaknesses has helped me learn how to reflect on my own. But also hearing insights through both advice and through my own struggling in coaching, I think has impacted me greatly. Additionally, I would say the people who have spoken leadership into me. My co-workers who have challenged me to step up into leadership when I haven’t trusted in myself. And, in a way, they’re not living, looking back at some of the Biblical leaders and seeing their patterns of leaders who, like me so many times, didn’t feel capable to take on the leadership. And those are the people that God called. So, I think I look back on them a lot as well.
Rhonda: That’s so very true. And this podcast is called Bold & Courageous in reflection of Joshua and God’s word to him about being strong and courageous because doing it without God means we’re probably not going to have the courage to do what needs to be done. When He calls us out, He promises to go with us and I know that, that’s been a big part of your journey. So, I’m very grateful to watch that process. Can you tell about some of your greatest leadership strengths?
Tini: That’s difficult for me, always difficult to determine. I think it’s pretty common that when you look at your weaknesses, but through formal tests like the Strengths Finder and the Berkman Personality Test and through reading different books and through experience I have discovered that my biggest strengths are strategizing, being able to look at goal or a vision or a direction and figure out the smaller steps that could be in the direction of a goal. Basically, breaking down a goal or a vision to pieces that can help reach the bigger goal and make the people you are leading and yourself feel more successful. Other strengths that I’ve found is I love to learn and trying to learn from others and grow in leadership. Restoration is another goal of mine, a strength of mine, being able to reconcile two different sides or maybe two different opinions, which is helpful when you’re leading a team to try to find the middle way. And coaching is an area that I think I’m growing in and could be one of my strengths.
Rhonda: I’d say that it is more than a “could be” one of your strengths, Tini. It’s definitely an area where you will find yourself moving more and more because just of who you are and your style of leadership is going to lend itself to that. So, once you’ve identified these strengths, what difference has that made in your leadership journey?
Tini: I think it has been really freeing to know that I can do some things well. Especially, in the beginning of the time when I had an official leadership role and everything seemed new and overwhelming to determine that these are things that I can do well. Also, freeing in that it gave me the freedom to ask others in areas that I have weaknesses and not to think that I have to be good in everything but that I can be good and I have certain strengths. And the reality that nobody can really be all around good at everything. It’s affirmed me and it’s given me confidence in those areas that are my strengths and also helps me to identify maybe some new projects or new challenges that could cater to my strengths or better hone them or better strengthen them. I think, on the other side, is that your biggest strengths are also your biggest weaknesses. So even when I realize that something is not going well, or I’m stressed and I can reflect and realize, ok that’s my achiever wanting to get something done or my learner that’s maybe going on overdrive. So, I think it helps to also be able to indirectly identify your weaknesses.
Rhonda: That is a very wise piece of information and as we say in the business, an overused strength becomes a weakness. And I just heard what you were describing there with your achiever or your learner going on overdrive that can be the case, or in my case, my maximizer going on overdrive can make everyone crazy. So, I can relate, very well to what you are saying, Tini. That’s really good learning in that whole thing. What advice would you give your younger self about leadership from what you know today?
Tini: So much, but I think the biggest thing is to not necessarily throw away, but to not just focus on the cookie cutter leader definition or picture that I had in my mind which is a lot of the things that I am not naturally. And to remember that leaders are not perfect so I don’t know if the cookie cutter leader really exists. To lead as I am, which is easier said than done but I think that ties into believing in your own strengths and in that, being honest to admit your mistakes and not trying to cover up or trying to make excuses or trying to deny it. And also to seek out others who really give me feedback and can see more of who I am, I think. Before I used to always be afraid of that, thinking that it would always be negative or wouldn’t be helpful, but I think that feedback that may seem negative can be really helpful and helps you see who you are in a way that I think I couldn’t see for myself. Don’t try to fill someone else’s shoes and don’t compare.
Rhonda: Could you say that again?
Tini: Don’t try to fill someone else’s shoes and don’t compare.
Rhonda: That’s so true for all of us, in our leadership journey and in all of life to not try to be someone else and not compare ourselves to others. Thank you for that piece of, I mean all of this has been good but that particular gem is so powerful. Has there been any kind of experience that helped you learn that particular lesson, any specific experience that you would like to share with us about learning that lesson? I don’t know if there is one but I’m saying, is there?
Tini: I think when I first took over the leadership, I think indirectly I tried to continue on leading in the way that our previous leader had led, which was good, for sure, but it was the way that she led. Especially in times where I was floundering or maybe didn’t know what to do, I kind of felt that I jumped out of my skin and would react in ways that really weren’t who I was because I felt like I had to. I don’t know why actually. I think I just did and then in reflecting I realized that, that wasn’t acting as Tini, as the person that I am, or the person that God called to lead. And I remember in kind of a really low point where I, kind of, questioned my leadership because it wasn’t going well because I was leading in a way that wasn’t really me. Reading, I think, a book and at the same time in the Bible when Moses passes the leadership on to Joshua and thinking how different Moses and Joshua are and that God called Joshua for exactly the time to lead as he is and how different he is from Moses and how his gifts, at that time, were just the gifts that the people needed. So, that was something, I think, that really spoke to me and I continually go back to when I find myself reacting in a way that is not normal or that is not who I am.
Rhonda: I don’t know that we need anything really super specific but the fact that you tried to lead out of, this is what I heard, that you tried to lead out of a style that was not your own and you weren’t leveraging your strengths and it didn’t go as well as it could have gone and also, you were not feeling that you were being true to yourself.
Tini: That’s true.
Rhonda: Ok, as we wrap up this interview today, Tini, what would you like our listeners to walk away with from today’s podcast? What do you want them to remember?
Tini: A lot of it, I think, is similar to what I wish, or generally what I wish I would have told myself. Basically, just lead as you are. Seek out others who can speak into your life. And know that they are called and equipped to lead as they are now, in the roles that they are now. At the same time, we can and we should, and we are allowed to strive to grow as a leader and to strive to be more Christlike.
Rhonda: Thank you Tini. This has been a really insightful conversation. I appreciate your willingness to share your story and I’m sure that those who are listening will learn from what you’ve shared with us.
To find out more about today’s topic, get downloads of our previous podcasts or to learn how you too can become a bold and courageous leader, visit rhondapeterson.com. Our ever-growing community is waiting for you. If you liked today’s show, there are three things you can do. You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher. You can give us a rating or a review on iTunes. The subscriptions and ratings help others to find us more easily. And you can help us get the word out by sharing the podcast with your friends. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you for the next Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast.