Why Is Bad Bobby At GC15?
My story begins with a confession and an aha moment. First, the confession. My name is Rob, I am an adult, I am a fourth generation son of the Free Methodist family committed to developing leaders across the church and beyond, and I play video games. The fact is that my understanding of video games inspired me to build an online leadership development toolkit that is holistic, real, and creates deep insight and learning for leaders. Here’s the rest of the story behind it all.
Several years ago, I arrived at my office after playing the game “Halo” online the previous evening. My nephew had informed me that I could go to the game’s website and see detailed data about my performance in the game. What I discovered not only impacted my performance in the game, but also inspired me to take my leadership development efforts to the next level. On the site, I could track the specifics of my performance, and even see the virtual weapons the 12-year-olds out there were using to beat up on me. When I took a closer look at my performance on one particular map (many online games are played in virtual maps like buildings or natural settings), I noticed that the most common weapon being used against me was a rocket launcher that could only be found at the bottom level of the map. There was my a-ha moment. The next time I played that particular map, I went straight to that rocket launcher, and I watched my score jump up by 25 percent. Then it hit me. I had spent my career investing in developing leaders across the church and in business, but something had been missing. What I really needed to provide for leaders was a way for them to see themselves, and the experiences, lessons and networks around them that will not only help them lead well, but also to become more aware of who they are as leaders, and how to develop the potential leaders all around them. I needed to provide a way for them to see the “rocket launchers” in their development as leaders that would accelerate their learning.
While my story in the Free Methodist family started four generations ago, my deeper work with the FMC denomination really accelerated right before the last general conference in 2011. I had developed a set of online leadership development tools with a surprising name. The name created some great conversations at General Conference 2011. We talked with pastors, spouses, volunteers, youth group leaders and even a few pastors’ kids. Most of those with whom we talked to created their own story. For some it reminded them of Paul’s statement when he said, “What a wretched man I am” (Romans 7:24).
Others immediately understood that it must have something to do with getting real. I do recall one leader who provided some unsolicited advice on the importance of appropriate names. “I think you need to change the name of that,” he said. My response was, “If I change the name, will you use it?” To which he replied, “Good point.”
In the gaming world, my gamer tag is Bad Bobby, and that is why the leadership development tools I have built live inside an online portal called BadBobby.com. Like me, your identity as a leader includes a variety of different roles, experiences, and people. I am a father, husband, son, professor, musician, friend, leader and more. Since the beginning, I have been committed to providing ministry, business and emerging leaders with tools that are holistic, real and provide a scaffolding to discover things they may not yet know about themselves, but could discover. While many leadership development processes and tools are out there, BadBobby.com contains a set of tools that allow you to become more aware; connect the dots between who you are, why you are and what you do; and create the real conversations necessary to prepare you for the road ahead as a leader. Holistic leadership development is about providing deep insight into who we are as leaders, and providing ways for us to measure our progress. Several years later, thousands of leaders across ministry and business settings have used the tools and others to increase their awareness, to build the teams in their ministries, and to listen more effectively to God’s calling on their lives. The tools are based on decades of research on the developmental journey of leaders across the church and business, are grounded in our Wesleyan theological roots, and are simple to use.
We are in a unique position as a denomination to create a culture where courageous and sacrificial leaders are identified, built up and supported. Leading well is more complex than a list of competencies or pie-in-the-sky character traits. Leading well requires intentionality, an ear in tune with the radical voice of God in our world, and a willingness to become aware of both our strengths and weakness. While I was amazed that leaders inside of a significant denomination would be the early adopters of a radically holistic strategy for developing leaders, it makes perfect sense when I think about our history. Our Wesleyan roots have given us a comfort with the paradoxes present in humanity. If preparing leaders for the reality of being a leader is the challenge, who better than the Free Methodist Church to lead the way?
Rob McKenna is the founder of Real Time Development Strategies, the executive director of Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Leadership Research and Development and the chair of the university’s industrial/organizational psychology department.