I haven't spent a lot of time reflecting on leadership this semester. This is largely due to the fact that I honestly don't feel like I have a position in which to be a leader (when it comes to academic realms, at least). And when one doesn't feel like they are even being seen it is hard to find material to focus on in regards to reflections on leadership.
However, I heard something very interesting at a women's conference that has stuck with me for the last two months. There is an amazing author and speaker from Australia, Christine Cain(seriously, her story and passion will blow you away), who was one of the speakers at a conference I attended in February. In her talk she said the following, There is always a place to serve. There may not always be a position [title or job opening] but there is always a place. Her point being that when we look around for places to lead or serve we often look for an empty position, a job (or volunteer) opening. And if there isn't one we assume that there is not place for us to server or lead. Her challenge was to stop that way of thinking and recognize that there is always someone in need of our service, love or leading. There is a gap that is in need of filling in nearly any church, organization or neighborhood. Instead of waiting for a predefined position to move us toward serving and leading, we should take time to look around and see if there are places to lead and serve that are not a part of holding a particular position or title attached. We should look at the the people around us and the contexts we are set in and find the places of need that are already present and calling for our attention.
I found this very encouraging for the stage of life I am in. I spend most of my "working time" volunteering in my community and church and being the CEO of my home. I hold no predefined positions of great value in the context of the working world. But in my life, I can see that I am leading in a lot of "places" that are not defined as positions nor have titles attached to them. Somehow in two years I have managed to become the "leader" of an annual women's conference, three community small groups, a book club, and planner of neighborhood events, like Easter Egg hunts and bonfires. Not things that will go on a resume if I ever find a way back into the education world. But I am encouraged because I am beginning to see that leadership is needed in those non-working, non-corporate places as well. However, in such places there is little feedback as to if I am actually a good leader or just good at getting people gather together for some common purpose.
As I have pondered her words I have begun to see that my greatest challenge in looking toward the future is that I just want to know what kind of leader I am. But I have never held a defined leadership position so I don't really know how to answer that, or what others would answer if they were asked to describe my as a leader. In addition, if someone would point out my traits (both negative and positive) as a leader I would have hard time believing them because I know they have never seen me actually lead (in the defined position kind of way). The reason I am pondering this is because the paths for my future may be leading to a leadership position that would require the highest quality of leadership skills. And I hesitate to even consider the position because I truly don't know if I want to move away from the "volunteer" leadership role to the actual leadership role and all the pressure and criticism that could come with it.
How does one know when their time has come to step up and lead? How does one know if they have what it takes to be that leader who has what it takes to fulfill the needs of a demanding position?
I think it takes a lot of faith and trust and knowing that the old adage, "you never know until you try" gets truer and truer as life brings bigger and more challenging dreams, goals, and leadership opportunities. I think it also requires me to keep believing that,There is always a place to serve. There may not always be a position [title or job opening] but there is always a place. That regardless of my position or title (or whether I have one or not) I can grow in my ability to lead by looking for places to serve.
Links to all the, Go and See Study, sessions.