What do you think when you hear the word “leader”? I confess to being quite resistant – I have always struggled being called a leader. It wasn’t until I was on the MOPS National Management Team that I realised I may be in denial about being a leader. But if I’m honest? I STILL struggle with the label “leader”. In fact, most women I know struggle with it. Don’t believe me? Invite someone to join a “leadership” team, and watch the look of fear in their eyes and the glances for a way of retreat!
Why is it so? I suspect it’s because the word “leader” comes with a whole heap of expectations. We sub-consciously have a mental image of what a leader looks like, and in our mind we don’t measure up to that image. “I’ve enough on my plate being a mum…. And you seriously want me to be a leader?” Google “What is a leader”, and along with over eight hundred million sites, the first answer is “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” Oops. I’ll join everyone running out the door at that definition!
Personally, I prefer John Maxwell’s definition: “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” Do you influence anyone? (Hint: your children?) Then you are a leader in some sphere in your life!
Whether you are extending influence at home, in your workplace, at your MOPS group or anywhere else, it’s worth stopping and considering how you can be intentional in your influence (or leadership). Don’t hide your gifts or allow others to miss out on the gifts you have!
So, let’s consider a few qualities that make for effective leadership:
Courage – Being courageous, or brave, shouldn’t come as a surprise for us this year. Our theme is “Be You, Bravely”. Being a mum takes heaps of bravery. Just being “me” takes courage. And being a leader takes bravery. Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Say “yes” to that opportunity, and don’t let the fear of failing stop you.
Growth – I have an eighteen year old and a sixteen year old. If I mothered them the same way now that I did when they were babies, not only would it be ineffective, it certainly wouldn’t help our relationship either! Neither of my offspring want to be spoon fed rice cereal or made to take afternoon naps. My mothering has had to grow and adapt over the past eighteen years. Good leaders are always growing. Sometimes that happens organically, but it also takes intentionality. Kids appear to grow naturally, but they consume a lot of food to do that – which I prepare! Intentionality might look like reading a leadership book, learning a new skill or trying a new way of handling an old problem. It takes a bit of work, but the payoff is definitely worth it.
Authenticity – I don’t have it all together. I never have. But for some reason, we think leaders should. Effective leaders recognise that they don’t have it together, and are happy to admit that. Bill Hybels said this in his opening address at the 2014 Global Leadership Summit: “Great leaders seldom know what to do but are resourceful”. Great leaders are authentic, they don’t have it all together, and they don’t always know what to do. They’re not afraid admit this and ask for help.
Perseverence – just like the little red engine saying “I think I can, I think I can”, leaders persevere. Mothering isn’t easy. Leadership isn’t easy. But leaders (and mothers!) don’t give up at the first hurdle, they keep going.
Where do you turn for help in your leadership? How do you grow? I have lots of books I love (including “Just Lead! A No Whining, No Complaining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church” by Sherry Surrat, MOPS Int CEO & Jenni Catron). I have a mentor that I meet with to talk to and pray with. But my primary source of wisdom and help is God. Jesus summed it up beautifully in John 15:5…
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.”
I credited John Maxwell with the definition of leadership; let me also give him the last word to leave with you:
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
Field Staff Manager, MOPS Australia