The Leadership Formation Portfolio

The Asbury Seminary Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program blends rigorous academic preparation with historic practices of formation and development. These elements combine in a formative process called the “Leadership Formation Portfolio.” Program participants develop a formative community – journey partners, faculty fellows, cohort peers and formation coaches – that contributes to the achievement of formational standards, dispositions and practices.

Dispositions of a Transformative Leader

The making of a leader happens from the inside out. Yet, many programs are available – conferences, seminars and workshops – tend to focus on the mastery of skills and techniques. There is something to be said for this approach; after all, God’s mission is not a theory about transformed people and communities. However, we assert that a high focus on techniques and problem solving gets the process out of order, the methods cart before the values horse. Academic programs, too, can make this mistake, prioritizing the completion of courses (with the focus on grades) as a measure of progress over and above the formative priorities of transformed hearts, hands, as well as heads. Some call this contrast the difference between “Outside-In Learning” and “Inside-Out Learning.” We take a different approach.

Standards that Transform, Standards that Shape a Leader. Following proven methods popularized in leadership education design in fields such as spirituality of vocation, professional studies and teacher education, we have adopted “the dispositions approach” of leadership education. In this model, an institution adopts key standards that frame the design of a program. These standards inform the selection of courses, learning processes, expectations of participants and faculty and all matters of assessment at the level of program learning and participant learning outcomes. These structural features that are often behind the scenes and out of sight (but which affect the conditions for learning deeply) must be managed with the clearest vision of what a program is seeking to do in the lives of the learners who participate in its offerings.

We describe these standards as Priorities of the Transformative Leader. It’s conventional wisdom in academic programs to have faculty offer classes and participants submit assignments. In our case, we focus on the dispositions within the heart, the inner life, the core values within. We describe the dispositions with the concept:

Postures of the Transformative Leader. These are the habits of the heart that form the focus of God’s formative work. Many postures can come from these dispositions and are evidenced in our actions. Ministry is always a by-product of our communion, our intimacy and our soul work. Ministry comes from within and works its way outward.

We describe these behaviors that arise from our dispositions as Practices of the Transformative Leader. The graphic below depicts how the program’s formational priorities are designed to provoke the participant’s postures and practices:

transformative leader

While elements of the Leadership Formation Portfolio will be developed in the first stage of the program, most of the elements are revisited for more intensive interaction at later stages of the program. Each of the items described are eventually uploaded into Asbury Seminary’s online electronic portfolio that serves as a repository until the final stage of the program, where these will be printed and bound as a professional competencies demonstration portfolio for your use.