I feel like her--inching forward, reaching for that which I behold, struggling little by little with every bit of my strength to get where I'm going.
With her, it's a down-on-the-ground, whole-bodied struggle. With me, it's a battle raging within me over a single, burning question: whether or not I qualify as a leader.
(Weird inner battles, I'm good at them.)
I'm not an alpha female. I know women--amazing women--who are alpha types. I admire them, but I'm not one of them, nor do I have any desire to be one. This obviously precludes me from assuming any role of religious (ordained) leadership.
I still hear this call to leadership, though, which makes my eyes cross. Come on, Goddess. Non-alpha types don't make leaders. The whole notion is absurd. How can I be a leader when I'm the one who's always been in the background, observing more often than herding? When I've been told to my face that I'm not a leader? Leadership roles in my case seem (as my medically trained hubby would say) contraindicated.
Conveniently, I've never had to grapple with this before, because I've always belonged to a tradition in which I would never have to take seriously (or be taken seriously regarding) my call to religious (i.e. ordained) leadership. Now I'm about to be received in a tradition that does, and I'm flailing like my infant daughter. How am I supposed to get where I'm going if I don't have the juice to do it?
For fun, I decided to humor my Lady Goddess and google "characteristics of a leader." I found this list.
Proactive vs. Reactive
The exceptional leader is always thinking three steps ahead. Working to master his/her own environment with the goal of avoiding problems before they arise.
How do you handle yourself in unexpected or uncomfortable situations? An effective leader will adapt to new surroundings and situations, doing his/her best to adjust.
A Good Communicator
As a leader, one must listen...a lot! You must be willing to work to understand the needs and desires of others. A good leader asks many questions, considers all options, and leads in the right direction.
Treating others with respect will ultimately earn respect.
Be sure of yourself with humble intentions.
Excitement is contagious. When a leader is motivated and excited about the cause people will be more inclined to follow.
Work to consider all options when making decisions. A strong leader will evaluate the input from all interested parties and work for the betterment of the whole.
Utilize the resources available to you. If you don't know the answer to something find out by asking questions. A leader must create access to information.
An exceptional leader will recognize the efforts of others and reinforce those actions. We all enjoy being recognized for our actions!
Knowledge is power. Work to be well educated on community policies, procedures, organizational norms, etc. Further, your knowledge of issues and information will only increase your success in leading others.
Open to Change
A leader will take into account all points of view and will be willing to change a policy, program, cultural tradition that is out-dated, or no longer beneficial to the group as a whole.
Interested in Feedback
How do people feel about your leadership skill set? How can you improve? These are important questions that a leader needs to constantly ask the chapter. View feedback as a gift to improve.
Evaluation of events and programs is essential for an organization/group to improve and progress. An exceptional leader will constantly evaluate and change programs and policies that are not working.
Are you prepared for meetings, presentations, events and confident that people around you are prepared and organized as well?
Confidence and respect cannot be attained without your leadership being consistent. People must have confidence that their opinions and thoughts will be heard and taken into consideration.
An exceptional leader realizes that he/she cannot accomplish everything on his own. A leader will know the talents and interests of people around him/her, thus delegating tasks accordingly.
A leader should work to be the motivator, an initiator. He/she must be a key element in the planning and implementing of new ideas, programs, policies, events, etc.
I'm not an alpha leader.
I'm a servant leader.
I lead by example. I'm dazzling and inspiring in a different way. Folks don't generally want to be me--they want to be around me. When I live out my (rather awesome) ideals, I am at the service of others, rather than in charge of them. That's how my leadership manifests.
I've just never formally thought of leadership, especially religious leadership, like that. Now that I see it at work at St. Augustine's, however--a context which has become my context, rather than remaining someone else's--it makes a surprising amount of sense.
Tune in again soon for more from the M. Kate Meets Her Vocation show!