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True leadership is listening, then leadingcomment (0)

December 13, 2012

By Jean Roberson

For the past year and a half, it has been my pleasure to share my thoughts on leadership with you. I have tried to provide words of encouragement for women in the workplace, in the church and in the home. Our many missions fields!

I was quite overwhelmed when The Alabama Baptist initially approached me about writing this column. 

My first thought was that I had nothing special to offer, no special insights that would add to another person’s life. I hope I was wrong.  

Writing this column has been a growing experience for me. It forced me to reflect on myself and my experience and unearth some areas where I really struggle as a leader. 

But is that not how it is for all of us in leadership? As we try to lead others or as we try to teach others, we become increasingly aware of our own challenges and struggles. 

Truly leadership, in all its forms, is an exercise in humility because none of us become leaders as a result of perfection.

Someone once said that the more you step out in leadership, the more visible you become. The more visible you are, the more others see your strengths and weaknesses clearly. As a result, the more vulnerable you are. Then, we have to live with that vulnerability.

Some of us handle this vulnerability well. 

We embrace our weaknesses, and we try to stay real and approachable even though we know someone can say something that hurts us.  

Some of us react to this vulnerability and become increasingly defensive. We become rigid in our observations and ideas, and we unknowingly create a distance between us and those we are trying to lead. But what good is it if we are leading and no one is following? 

My prayer for all of us is that we stay as real as we can, understanding why Paul chose to boast in his weakness and was so quick to remind everyone that he was the chief of sinners.  

My prayer is that, as leaders and as women leaders, we draw near to those we influence, listening, ever mindful of the fact that we have as much to learn as we have to offer.  

Truthfully, any one of us could have been writing these columns over the past several months. We all have insights and experiences to share. 

I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to share mine with you, and I look forward to hearing your experiences.

A Takeaway Value …

Listen and then lead.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Jean Roberson, MSW, LCSW, is a ministry consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. She serves as team leader for the adult team and director of Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and International Initiatives.

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