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William Attaway is a Leadership Coach for Catalytic Leadership, LLC, a company he founded to help leaders to INTENTIONALLY grow and thrive. He has served in local church ministry for nearly 25 years, and is currently the Lead Pastor of Southview Community Church, a church in Herndon, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) where he has served since 2004.
He holds a Ph.D. in Old Testament (with an emphasis in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology), and he loves to read and speak about leadership, organizational change, archaeology, and building up people and teams. His newest book is Catalytic Leadership (January, 2022). Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, William now lives in northern Virginia with his beautiful wife Charlotte and their two daughters.
Who is William Attaway?
William Attaway grew up in Birmingham, Alabama where he attended his first leadership conference at the age of 15. A highschool teacher recognized something in him and set him on a lifelong journey of leadership development. His life has been about learning from as many leaders as he could, about as much as he could, and as often as he could.
What is Catalytic Leadership?
Over the course of his 20 years of coaching work, William has identified 12 common principles of leadership that contribute to success, no matter the field.
The first principle is centered around intentional teachability, and coming to the realization that you don’t know everything. This understanding allows you to approach all areas of life from a perspective of humility and teachability. Then and only then are you able to learn and to implement what it is that you’re learning.
It’s common for leaders that have been doing what they’re doing for a while to lose focus and drift, and the antidote to that is a teachable spirit, approaching every day, every circumstance, every conversation, as an opportunity to learn something.
When you stop learning, that’s when you begin to lose the passion you had for your work. Experience on its own doesn’t make you better, evaluated experience does and that means making the choice to look more deeply.
Evaluation begins with three questions: What went right? What went wrong? And how do we make it better next time?
William recommends weekly reviews where you look back at the past week and process what you learned and take those lessons forward.
Change is something that people fear when it’s not their idea, but change is a part of life and growth only happens on the other side. Instead of seeing change as the enemy, see change as a necessary part of the process.
Leaders never stop leading through change. There is no end point where you have arrived. You are either changing and growing or you end up in a rut.
Personal Style and Leadership
You have to understand how you are intentionally designed and created. There are dozens of tests you can take to discover your wiring and learn your strengths and weaknesses, and all those different aspects of yourself contribute to your overall ability as a leader.
The temptation early in your leadership journey is to want to pretend that you’re like somebody else, but you need to be you and that requires understanding yourself.
As a leader, you also need to discover and understand the wiring of those you lead. That’s how you lead them best and help them reach their full potential, and when you do that they pour their energy back into you.
Understanding your people starts with listening. William sets aside time each week to meet with one of his direct reports to listen to what they need and discover what they want to do next. You have to listen with the intent of understanding that as a catalytic leader, your goal is to help empower them and to equip them to reach those goals.
Before your team will open up about those key aspects of themselves, you first need to establish a culture and environment of trust. When you stop listening you make yourself inaccessible to the very people you need to open up to you.
People are not distractions from the work as a leader, people are the work no matter what you do. Your development as a leader is your responsibility, nobody else’s.
Choose the environments you’re in. Pick conferences, workshops, books, and podcasts that will build your skills and make you better. Are you intentionally choosing to spend time with people who are farther down the road than you are that you can learn from?
catalyticleadershipbook.com to get a free copy of the book!