i care deeply about women in leadership. women are gifted, and called, and created by god with essential church leadership gifts. and, the church will not reach it's full potential or represent the full diversity of christ until women are empowered & encouraged to lead alongside men.
end of rant. i just get going on the topic and lose all track of sensibility. pardon me.
recently, i read sheryl sandberg's book lean in. i knew it would be good, but is was real good. here's a helpful suggestion: read the book. regardless if you're male or female -- the book is applicable to anyone who works alongside women in a staff capacity, oversees women who volunteer in the ministry, who is a woman, or anyone supervised by a women. so, really, everyone.
here's how i'm currently applying the book to my leadership:
what is your biggest problem, and how can i solve it? -- with my clients, i'm starting with this question instead of spouting off all the ways my skills can help improve their program.
on success & likeability -- one of my new year's resolutions was to stand up for myself more often. i had noticed that in working hard to encourage and empower my clients, i'd forgotten to speak up for what was important to me. in the past, when i've lead a team, i've gone overboard making sure everyone liked me. as if that were the highest goal. silly amy. i feel hyper-aware of my tendency to do this, and i'm practicing speaking up for myself one small step at a time.
your desire to be liked by everyone will hold you back. when you want to change things, you can't please everyone. if you do please everyone, you aren't making enough progress.
it's a jungle gym, not a ladder -- ladders are limiting, they are for moving up or down only. but, jungle gyms offer more creative exploration with great views for everyone, not just those at the top. i love this analogy from the book and have been thinking about applications for the women i serve alongside in ministry. i want to consider more creative paths for careers and ministry and volunteer work and raising families. there can't just be one right way for all women, and i don't want to judge those who chose different paths than me. we have to encourage each other to take a few steps up and over and back again. all for the sake of using our gifts for the kingdom.
don't leave before you leave -- for me, this was the best chapter in the whole book. on how women are thinking about leaving their careers to start or raise a family before they are even married or pregnant. and, the gigantic void they are leaving in the workplace as women mentally abandon their careers in their early 20's. i'm on overdrive thinking about the women pastors and directors i know, and how the church environment might not be encouraging them to lead strong while they're pregnant, or during the years before they're pregnant. most women are mentally planning their escape route before it's ever near the time to leave. we've got to change this.
women rarely make one big decision to leave the workforce. instead, they make a lot of small decisions along the way, making accomodations and sacrifices that they believe will be required to have a family. of all the ways women hold themselves back, perhaps the most pervasive is that they leave before the leave.
make your partner a real partner -- interesting fact: of the 28 women who have served as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, 26 were married, 1 was divorced, and only 1 had never married. many of these CEOs said they could not have succeeded without the support of their husbands, helping with the children, the household chores, and showing a willingness to move. fascinating, right? i'm beyond lucky to be in a true partnership with my husband. and, i only want to increase the ways i rely on him and trust him with my work and our home and our lives so that together we can be our best.
so. in conclusion. read this book. it's eye-opening and super helpful. i'm a fan.