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Supporting Church leaders through feedback and accompaniment

by | 15 December 2023 | Blog, Testimony

Supporting Church leaders through feedback and accompaniment

In order to continue offering a more personalized and integral approach to learning and development, the Discerning Leadership Program has integrated into the 2023 learning experiences the possibility for participants to take a 360 feedback assessment of their leadership and benefit from accompaniment support offered by members in our DL Accompaniment Network. These innovations intend to further support the development of leaders’ capacity to exercise their ministry with greater self-awareness and inner freedom, spiritual maturity and discernment, as well as an orientation to service consistent with the example of Christ and supporting the vision of a Synodal Church.

Cultivating awareness and creative leadership through the Leadership Circle

Between Module 1 and Module 2, the DL team worked with members in the English and Italian speaking cohorts to identify up to twenty people whom they invited to complete their Leadership Circle 360 Assessment. This framework is a global and widely researched tool that draws from the work around adult development theory, psychology, and leadership. The model seeks to measure two crucial leadership domains, namely a leader’s Creative Competencies and Reactive Tendencies. It integrates information and feedback in a visual way that allows strengths and development opportunities to emerge.

Coaching and Group Facilitation support

Upon completion of the assessment, each leader has been paired with a coach to walk them through high-level findings and trends in their profile. The coaches created a safe reflective space where DL alumni could make sense of their results. Together, they engaged in meaningful conversations on how the leader tends to show up in the world. They explored the pushes and pulls that leaders experience in their contexts in a way that promoted insight and considered what intentions and experiments could lead to impactful actions in service of both the leader’s mission and relationships.

In addition to one-to-one support, many of our DL Alumni have extended this accompaniment to members of their Councils and provinces. With the help of facilitators from our Accompaniment network, they engaged in group processes that helped them integrate the program’s learning and practice discernment within their organizations. 

Testimonies about the accompaniment experience

More than 40 of our alumni have experienced this accompaniment journey so far. We are including below some testimonies from both leaders and coaches/facilitators, sharing how the experience was for them.

“The accompaniment I received has been a gentle experience with the emergence and transformation of the ‘I’ of self into the ‘we’ of team and community. During my accompaniment I was invited to share openly, ponder upon personal experiences and integrate the Discerning Leadership course content.  I have been reminded of the importance of discernment, dialogue and of how my authentic self and desire for a common good are key for good leadership. I feel truly blessed to have had such a wholesome and Spirit filled experience of coaching and I am filled with gratitude for the generosity, creative expertise and leadership of my coach. Thank you. Natalie.

After the second week of the Discerning Leadership program, I realized that all I had discovered, I wouldn’t be able to put into practice by myself. I decided to take up the offer of the DL team and I embarked on the coaching adventure! The trust that has built up from the start in a language that is not my mother tongue was remarkable. Working with my coach was really very fruitful. It helped me take a closer look at the work and make sense of the results of my profile, learning to take care of myself and gaining a better understanding of what does it mean practically to work and relate in a multicultural team. This was essential if I wanted to be more adjusted to the mission I want to serve and to move forward with confidence within vulnerability. Conversations with my coach felt like I am looking at myself from an outside point of view! The questions and opportunities to listen to myself gradually made me aware of what is going on inside me and has given me the confidence that something else was possible. It released in me new energy and courage. Little by little, I go deeper and make my way. It is not a magical wand, more like gymnastics: the more you practice, the easier it comes. Elisabeth

Looking back at my experience of accompanying DL Alumni, I find myself deeply moved by the loneliness experienced by congregation leaders in the exercise of their duties. Given the workload that leaders in positions of responsibility have to bear, sometimes without much preparation, accompaniment allows them to take a step back and be held in spaces of attentive listening that invite them to verbalize their inner experiences and take perspective about themselves and others. This experience of deep listening encourages introducing similar practices at Council’s level, renewing the way for making decisions together and enabling a gradual convergence that contributes to build a very concrete Synodality within the congregation. Caroline.

The opportunity to accompany Church leaders as an executive coach is a true gift and blessing. Walking with leaders to help expand their capacity to lead the Church in a more synodal way is also increasing my own capacity for synodality. In truly encountering one another, the Spirit reveals wisdom, comfort, and guidance to both of us in new and unexpected ways. It assures me that the path of synodality is one of hope and filled with surprises helping me see the many ways the Holy Spirit is so graciously and generously laboring on behalf of the Church. Maura.

After module 3, I picked up the accompaniment of one council in their work of navigating sharing resources in an intercultural setting. Our work together was deeply moving, as we explored the roots of our perspectives on giving, receiving and sharing, and on what it takes to belong. It yielded a very rich perspective, noticing more similarities than they had thought, and they are now taking it forward into their next chapter. It moved me as it brought me in touch with the wise forms of female leadership in this part of the church, ones that non-church can learn a lot from. 

Working on the accompaniment of provinces in their discernment of governance choices about the legacy they leave as they age was and still is, another impactful process. Choices about governance and reflections on identity are so deeply intertwined that even seemingly prosaic work has a deep spiritual meaning. These sisters taught me to work explicitly not only with and alongside them but also allowing the Spirit into the work in a way I had not been accustomed to. I feel grateful for that. Anjet

Tags in the article: Accompaniment | Coaching | Feedback | leadership
Sandra Chaoul

Sandra Chaoul

Director of the Accompaniment Community for Discerning Leadership

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