“Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance in perspective, because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill defined…”
- Leonardo da Vinci
Shadow is not the opposite of light, but a result of the obstruction of light. This has become a powerful component of our coaching and understanding of both the best and worst things in the leaders we work with.
Lencioni’s TableGroup talks about strengths and weaknesses of leaders. In order to become a better leader, we need to be aware of what we offer that is of highest contribution and do more of that. We also need to be aware of how the weight of our leadership is most challenging to others, and do less of that.
E-Myth taught us a deeper and much more contextual understanding of the same concept. They taught us about shadow and light. What is great about a leader, when focused in the right way, is the benefit of the team and company. When that great ability is driven by the wrong motive, it becomes a detriment to the team.
- A smart and creative thinker can crowd out the contribution of others.
- An articulate and clear speaking leader can silence others.
- A gifted problem solver can limit others' desire to help solve things on their own.
One of my light and shadow challenges, in the words of others, is that I am confident, verbally articulate, and can frame thoughts and ideas well. They also say that it makes them feel like what they have to contribute isn’t of any value. That’s terrible and the furthest thing from my desire, but an understood consequence of my gifting.
Does that make sense?
The understanding that shadow is merely the obscuring of light has taken our understanding of strengths and weaknesses to a whole new level. There is power in that understanding and a greater ability to enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the leaders we serve.
But that wasn’t the end of our journey on these concepts.
When we applied a spiritual or Kingdom lens to the discussion, the clarity of light and shadow started to take on real power and importance. Our primary role in the Kingdom is to bring glory to the Father and we do that in very particular and unique ways that no other creature can.
To offer your strengths, unique ability, or gifting, is really to offer the glory that was intended from our lives to draw attention to the nature and goodness of our God. To not offer the glory that each of us carries, is to shroud the glory of God....to limit what is beautiful, unique, and profound about His character.
The deliverable of helping leaders understand their strengths/weaknesses or light/shadow is really helping them glorify God better.
How great is that?
- Are you aware of what your strength, light, or glory is?
- Are you aware of what is challenging about you, your shadow, or what shrouded glory looks like in your life?
- How much time are you spending on the right side of that ledger?
- How much is it costing you, your team, and your family when you are not?