Do you feel prepared to lead and influence others? Do you ever wonder how you ended up in charge–whether of a team or your own children?
As a young woman I struggled with many of the skills that I needed as a new and inexperienced leader. There was no training available for the positions where God placed me, and I made so many mistakes! In time I began to watch others and glean from their examples, but how I wish there had been someone to take me by the hand and coach me! The positive was that I learned from many leaders, although they were unaware that I was watching and listening closely. No one person is able to provide wisdom for every situation. Keep your eyes and ears open to those who exhibit wisdom and good leadership.
If you find yourself often lost or confused about which direction to go as a leader, the following excerpt from my book From Ordinary Woman to Spiritual Leader: Grow your Influence may help.
An important fundamental of leadership is competence, which is necessary to a leader on two levels. First, leading others requires the leadership know-how to harness their manpower. Secondly, the leader must be knowledgeable enough about the overall goal and the various tasks required of her team to see that they are accomplished. Basically, she must have competence in leadership and the know-how needed in the tasks required of her team.
Are these two levels of competence also necessary when exerting influence over an individual? Certainly! A mother must exhibit good parenting skills to maximize her influence over her children (the leadership know-how) as well as help them increasingly develop the abilities they need in life (the know-how for her followers). If a parent’s goal is to raise strong, independent, and godly children, she must set that vision before them and give them opportunities to develop their own competence, which involves teaching them needed skills.
One way to discover the skills and knowledge necessary to your leadership is to ask someone who has experience. Who had the job before you? What friends or acquaintances have experience in similar roles? Once you identify what you need to know and do to lead well where you are, your next task is to find ways to acquire the know-how that you lack.
Assessing our own abilities such as chairing a meeting, leading a small group, or recruiting volunteers may require an objective outsider because you and I can’t see ourselves as we really are. Where can you find such help? A mentor or coach, someone with experience who can observe and give feedback, is invaluable. The right person can guide you to ways of acquiring know-how. She may suggest books or classes, or it may be that her wisdom and experience will provide you with all that you need to know.
As my experience proves, we often need the influence of a number of people to help us develop competence. You may ask an older woman for parenting advice or look to an experienced leader to help you improve in facilitating a small group. A great administrator’s suggestions for how to organize volunteers may be invaluable while her help in planning a meeting agenda is weak. Find someone who isn’t afraid to challenge you with truth but who will support you when you stumble. You may be reluctant to take the initiative to find a coach. However, it is highly unlikely that anyone will offer to mentor you otherwise. Begin by simply inviting a possible candidate to meet you for coffee or lunch. See how well you relate, and ask her questions about her own experience. If your interaction is valuable and you see in her the type of leader you want to become, ask her for ongoing help without using the term “mentor.” (It’s a scary word because it suggests a level of expertise that few of us think we have.) Just ask her to observe you and give suggestions or to meet with you periodically for input.
Take time to assess yourself. If you are struggling in your leadership, determine if you are misplaced in a position where you are not gifted or whether you simply need to work at becoming competent. Don’t keep trying to do something for which you aren’t equipped, or you may bring disaster upon yourself and your followers
The responsibility to grow into a competent leader is yours alone. Invite a woman to give you input into your leadership, and expect God to use her in more ways that you initially anticipate. My guess is that you will make a lifelong friend in the process, and that your friendship will bless her in return.