By Michael Metts
We all ask ourselves tough questions. Why am I here? What has experience taught me? Am I worthy? Dr. Rob McKenna believes people are driven by these questions and that leaders must be purposeful in addressing them.
Through the commission on leadership development formed at General Conference 2007, the Free Methodist Church discovered a need to offer its leaders a self-development tool. McKenna, a self-development expert and associate professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Seattle Pacific University, was chosen to fulfill that need.
“Our goal was to create a virtual toolkit that helps people answer those tough questions but then gives them the tools they need to develop,” says McKenna.
The solution, implemented with pastors in January, is badbobby.com. “Bad Bobby” is McKenna’s video gaming username, one of the many roles he plays. He chose the name because he wants users to understand how all aspects of their lives, even the seemingly small things, contribute to who they are as leaders.
Anyone can use the tool, but McKenna believes it will be especially helpful for pastors. On the website, they can complete questionnaires, set and share goals and view their progress. Surveys allow users to audit their leadership experience, form a strategic network, understand their ability to lead under pressure, and much more.
“It’s very helpful,” says Bishop Matt Thomas, a Bad Bobby user. “I like the fact that it makes you think through your call and purpose.”
McKenna is particularly excited that Free Methodist pastors have been asking for a tool like this and are eager to use it. “I’ve built several of these for corporations and one of the things I’ve hated is that no one uses them,” he says.
Because everything on the website is private unless the user chooses to share it, pastors can be authentic when evaluating themselves, giving them a more accurate picture of the areas they need to develop. “It will help them be more intentional and hopefully engage with their teams more effectively,” says McKenna.
Bad Bobby users will notice right away that the exercises involve a lot of self-definition. “There’s a lot of research that would indicate [writing things down] leads to a lot of other positive outcomes,” says McKenna. “For example, if I write down a goal and share it, I’m significantly more likely to actually achieve that goal.”
He acknowledges that the biggest challenge in asking oneself these difficult questions is that it takes time. However, research has shown that taking the time to go through this process leads to tangible positive outcomes.
Although Bad Bobby has only been available to pastors for a short time, initial feedback is positive. One of the early adopters is Pastor Mark Taylor, director of church planting for the North Central Conference. “As someone who comes from a psychology background, I was very impressed,” he says.
Dennis Jeffery, superintendent of the River Conference, is another Bad Bobby user. He particularly looks forward to utilizing the feedback tools. “[Feedback is] a very helpful way to assist a leader’s growth by raising self-awareness and decreasing blind spots,” he says.
The denomination is making Bad Bobby available to all ordained pastors. McKenna will be at General Conference 2011 to demonstrate Bad Bobby and to talk with anyone interested in trying it – either individually or as teams. Even if you’re not a Free Methodist elder, you can still experience this goal-setting tool at badbobby.com.
- McKenna’s faculty page
- Bad Bobby intro video
- McKenna’s YouTube profile which has videos giving in-depth explanations of Bad Bobby
- McKenna on Twitter