Nine things I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) as I step into the leadership roles that God has invited me to take on. I’ve got a lot to say on this so I’ll have to deliver it to you in three parts lest you fall asleep mid-read.
Some of these things I learned in my early twenties when I had the wonderful opportunity to be a Head of Year at an awesome Baptist College in Perth. Some others I learned through leading the worship ministry in my church and some I know in theory but struggle with in practise. Here we go…
1. Have confidence in your calling.
You might have heard the saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” I believe in this. If God has made it clear to you and to others that you are the woman for the job, then you need to believe it and act accordingly. You need to TRUST that God knows your unique skills, talents and giftings and knew what he was doing what he invited you to play this part. A big part of leadership is casting vision, setting goals and determining pace and direction. You need to trust that you have it within yourself to accomplish this.
What happens when you don’t trust that you can do it? You are filled with self-doubt. And guess who can smell self-doubt? Strong, confident leaders. When you lack confidence in your ability to determine the goals and direction of your team or ministry, other strong leaders will step into the void you create. They’ll tell you how to lead. They’ll give you’re their priorities for your ministry and tell you how could be doing it better. Where does that lead you? To further self-doubt, further confusion and even less self-confidence.
So, what are you going to do about it? You are going to believe that you are worth trusting and listening to and that God called YOU. You are going to back yourself. You are going to commit your visions, goals, dreams, ideas and plans to paper and you are going to remind yourself of them regularly. You are going to build a team of people who believe in you and the dreams and vision God has placed in you.
2. Find a mentor.
It is worth getting the advice of wise counsel as you learn how to be a good leader. Find a person who has walked the road ahead of you- someone you trust and admire, who you know can hold your secrets to themselves and who has no personal agenda for your work. Ask them if they will meet with you to help you on the journey.
Once you have a great mentor:
- Show them respect by being proactive about making times to meet with them. (They should not be chasing you or reminding you of the mentoring commitment.)
- Make it easy for them- be flexible by meeting them at their workplace or meeting them in a café in their area. Don’t ask them to come to you. Pay for their coffee!
- Agree on how long will meet each session and value their time by sticking to that.
- Don’t be late for your meeting with them.
- Come prepared to the session with great questions and specific growth areas or learning you want to focus on.
- Be honest with them- they can’t help you so much if you’re not open about where you’re at.
- Don’t do all the talking- if you’ve found a wise mentor, shut up and listen to them answer your questions. If you’re going to do ALL the talking, you may as well just talk to your cat.
- Don’t feel bad if they give you great advice and you fail to take it. Some lessons need to be learned the hard way. Just don’t throw away every good bit of counsel they give you or again, you may as well just talk to your cat.
But here’s the thing- don’t have too many mentors. Too many people giving you advice just turns into too much noise. You might have a spiritual mentor and also a business and/or leadership coach and that could work well. But if you are seeking out the advice of too many wise people all the time, you’re a) hogging all the good mentors b) probably not backing yourself (see Tip #1.)
3. Find your people.
I have a peer group with four other women who are all involved in church ministry (outside of my own context) and I ADORE THEM! When we first got together we established rules for trust, confidentiality and group health and we have stuck to them. We meet regularly and sometimes we group message when we need prayer and/or hilarious memes. We have been there for each other for all the big things and our conversations are generous, whole-hearted and vulnerable. It’s probably a super rare thing to have found such an awesome group but we also work really hard at being healthy and supporting each other well. I recommend you try to find this and work hard to make it work. If you live remotely, find a group who also live remotely and do the skype thing.
I also have some individual friends who I meet with one on one who are joy and goodness and life. They are the ones who tell me who I really am when I can’t see it and who are willing to tell it like it is.
I met one of these friends in a café when I was struggling with a work thing and I was crying and asking, “why am I so weak and wobbly?” Her response to me was, “err, no, you are passionate, direct and slightly intimidating.” And it was wonderful because she was able to help me get outside of my own head and see how others were experiencing me. Friendships like that are gold. Find them and hang onto them.
Part 2 here.
I loved what you had to say about leadership, Yvette. I particularly loved what you said about mentoring. It is a two-way street and we really only get out of it what we decide to put in. I like the fact you encourage us to ask our mentors questions rather than expect them to listen to us all the time.