Want to get to know the woman behind your apple products?
I did. I wanted to get to know her and thanks to a story featured in Fast Company, I was able to do just that–in a small way at least. Maybe someday, I’ll get to go to her office with her because I’d really love that. But for now, I’m just really happy someone listened to her story and wrote it down for us.
Her name is Angela. She’s one of the most
polished, tenacious, creative, and well respected VP’s on the planet.
I love that she’s a wife, a mother, a thought leader, and an entrepreneur.
I think we have a lot to learn from her–and her 20 billion dollar company.
I first became acquainted with Angela Ahrendts through an article that I read in Fast Company magazine. It took me a few days to get through the article because it seemed at every paragraph there was something for me personally. Something I needed to dwell on and discover (or recover in some cases) in my own leadership style. I had to sleep on it and mull it over. I think this particular magazine holds the record for “longest time spent in my tote”.
Angela transitioned from CEO at Burberry, a place that she brought to life with experiential shopping experiences and viral social media campaigns, to Apple who from the start had fallen in love with her collaborative spirit.
There’s a word.
I want to pause there.
Can we be more collaborative in our leadership?
I want to think so.
I also have failed at this before.
I have tried to get a job done in my own strength.
That’s a mistake.
It’s just flat out stupid.
That’s the “I can get this done faster if I just do it myself” mentality that will cripple the creativity and longevity of my ministry and of yours too.
So, we need to get a grip on that.
And there are other things. Things that Angela does that we can learn from and try to do better in our roles as advocates for the love of Christ in our world.
I want to show you a side-by-side. What her choices look like for her companies (VP perspective) and what those same choices could look like for our ministries (YP perspective).
VP Quality #1
Compassion. Humility. It’s saying “thank you”.
Fast Company tells the story of a compassionate leader who doesn’t shy away from a genuine care and concern for others. She acknowledges when others do things that benefit the company or other people around them. She is a mirror becoming compassion and reflecting it too.
YP Quality #1
Compassion. Humility. Saying “thank you”.
This way of life and leadership is not only possible for us–but desired of us. When ministry chaos increases. We can be tempted to forget acknowledging those who help us, those who serve us, and those who need us. We have the greatest opportunity in our own homes, in our offices, and with our volunteers and lay leadership.
VP Quality #2
Angela is a conversationalist who listens more than she speaks.
YP Quality #2
It may seem hard to do this, especially if you’re the main communicator in your ministry. But with a little effort, this reality can switch. The more we listen, the more we will understand. As we understand, we will feel more compassion. Compassion and passion are tied together–if we are truly “suffering with” or having empathy for or walking in solidarity with those around us–nothing will stop us in our creativity to connect, create, and lead well.
VP Quality #3
The VP at apple asks lots of questions.
She puts herself in other people’s positions.
YP Quality #3
The youth pastor waits. Observes. Listens. The focus shifts to others.
She puts herself in other people’s positions.
She listens and listens and feels what’s happening.
Then she leads the way.
VP Quality #4
She believes empathy is one of the greatest creators of energy.
There is a knowledge that this kind of creators of energy will feel counterintuitive because it’s selfless.
YP Quality #4
He puts self to the side daily. He understands that it may not feel natural to empathize because it’s a learned behavior, a replacement done by the work of the Holy Spirit–so we ask for help and we look for ways to create energy with genuine empathetic responses.
VP Quality #5
VP’s take an Alice In Wonderland class in college. Joking. But you might think it. Angela is a curious leader. She asks, “why are we doing this”? “What is new?” “What would this look like if we didn’t have limitations.”
YP Quality #5
Youth leaders become curious and curiouser.
We walk into rooms, into planning, into conversations with eyes wide open.
We are the great question askers. We imagine what could be as we ask “why” and “why not?” What would lives look like if we made this change? Or took this risk? Or said no to some things? Or said yes to some big things?
The greatest question of my undergrad career, posed by my friend and professor Rick Ryding was, “why do you do what you do when you do it” and we have to keep asking that question.
VP Quality #6
Negativity isn’t found in Angela’s intensity.
She isn’t a pressure leader. She is a possibility leader.
She shares big news with her team first. She thinks of them before she thinks of herself.
YP Quality #6
She is full of positivity. Even when changes are needing to be made. Even when things don’t go as planned. Even if the tide shifts in an unexpected direction, she looks into the future with God’s potential in her pocket. She is living the great commandment to love God and love others with the same intensity. If that is her goal, she will struggle to be negative in anything she does. Because she will be less than we in her mind.
VP Quality #7
Angela usually has one main message. It’s “thank you.”
She’ll do a weekly video update to her large team.
She will treat it as just as important as a meeting with high level execs.
YP Quality #7
Youth Pastors spend a lot of time working on and preparing for those times when we get to communicate with our leaders. We get creative. We send videos. We make it easy for them to hear from us. We say thank you. Again and again.
VP Quality #8
She puts a project before her team.
Occasionally, at Burberry, Angela would make a request.
“If you make a personal call to one customer today, if you all do this, we all win.”
YP Quality #8
The youth pastor knows her top priority.
She focuses her team and her students on that by giving them something to do.
She inspires meaningful cooperation and participation because she sees the win and sees
the win being accomplished together.
VP Quality #9
She has a routine–a pattern for alone time.
No leader can lead on empty.
For Angela, it’s reading, a bath before work, rest and focus.
It’s time spent in the pages of Maya Angelou and John Maxwell.
YP Quality #9
The youth pastor makes space every day to recover for some time.
To pour out requires equal pouring in.
All of us have different nozzles for the filling.
Mine is exercise, being outdoors, reading, listening to music.
It’s time spent in the pages of The Gospels, in the book of James, with Kathy Escobar, Gary Haugen, Tsh Oxenreider, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Donald Miller, Reggie Joiner, and Michael Hyatt.
VP Quality #10
Her job is to be a brilliant brand ambassador. She doesn’t sell.
Her vocation is to build and amazing brand experience that
brings natural effects.
YP Quality #10
Youth ministry isn’t about selling Jesus. It’s about seeing Jesus and knowing Jesus and doing everything we can to be an ambassador in experiences built around Jesus. It’s a vision to create an environment that champions spiritual formation and family. As we do this we advocate for the church and continue to be the messangers of God’s good Story that we were called to be committed to from the start. Created in God’s image and bearing it—we become the experience and we share it with others. The natural side effects are too many to count.
What can you learn from the successful people around you?