Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BLING - Women's Style of Leadership (Part 6)

You're not bored are you?  Bored of talking about women's style of leadership?  This is a blog to help women in leadership after all.  Well, you may not be tired of it, but I think that I am…so this series of posts will end with us talking about how God created us with...

 Emotional intelligence:  When I read about emotional intelligence in an article about women leaders it was a new term for me.  So I had to look it up.  This is what I found it means.  It’s the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships.  EQ is more important than IQ; it’s the key to both personal and professional success.  And guess what girls…God gave this to us.  It’s huge!  EQ gives you the ability to understand and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.  It helps us to be empathetic and responsive.  It affects your performance at work, your physical health, your mental health, and your relationships.

Downside:  Moody.  Yes we are.  It’s the price of us being created with intense emotions.  And it’s one of the biggest complaints that men have against women leaders.  To improve our emotional intelligence, and our decision-making abilities, we need to understand and manage our emotions.  And managing our emotions starts with our thoughts.

Solution:  Positive Framing.  Positive framing leads to exceptional leadership in women.  It provides the energy and clarity to keep moving ahead no matter what the difficulty.  Leaders who implement positive framing see the facts clearly; it keeps negative feelings from distorting their view of reality. People are motivated by the positive far more than the negative.  People are far more likely to be spurred to action by a vision of a positive outcome than they are to avoid a negative one.  Still not sure what positive framing is?  Answer this: Is the glass half full or half empty?  How does seeing it one way frame everything else you later decide about both glass and water? Would seeing it the other way change your view?  This is not new agey…this is Biblical.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil 4:8 NIV

We’re not just talking about positive thinking here.  We’re talking about looking at a situation from God’s perspective instead of your own; stepping back and seeing the big picture.

The inability to positively frame difficult situations creates leaders to mistake temporary situations for a lasting and permanent situation.  Women can see setbacks as mistakes and failure, and they can find themselves spiraling down, taking the emotional plunge that saps the energy they need to take action.  Women tend to ruminate on difficulties and get stuck in a cycle of thought.  Over-thinking a situation is toxic and interferes with a personals ability to solve problems and lead effectively. 

Successful women leaders learn to reframe events and deal effectively with their emotions.  They remain centered and in control when faced with obstacles, chaos and adversity.  Positive framing is about finding alternative solutions and learning to “work around” something, or even creating an entirely new strategy.  Instead of getting stuck in a swirl of negative emotions, that can only spiral downwards, a woman leader can reframe the situation in light of God’s purposes, and find the positive way of dealing with it.


Oh there are more female attributes that make us great leaders; stuff like taking the initiative, nurturing, recognizes the need for self-development, empathy, responsive, integrity, and drive.  But I think that we’ve made the point today.  Girls, God made you to be a leader.  You don’t have to be apologetic, or try to emulate the character traits of men.  Just be the woman that God created you to be and you’ll do fine.  You’ll need to develop strengthen and actually use the leadership qualities that God has given you, but you’ll do fine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BLING - Women's Style of Leadership (Part 5)

Tired of me talking about women and leadership.  No worries…We'll be changing gears soon.  But today we are going to be talking about how God made women to be leaders by creating us to be…

Better at activating passion.  Women leaders feel passionately about the vision or mission of their organization.  And the cool thing is, she is also able to share that passion in a way that enables others to feel passionate, too.  Studies show that women are more astute about knowing how to activate passion in those they lead.  Women watch the 43 muscles in the face and see how emotions change.  By understanding what someone is feeling, women leaders are able to guide those feelings so that others feel as if their work has purpose and meaning beyond the tasks they perform each day.  It’s not manipulation.  It’s inspiration. 

"Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow." --Vince Lombbardi

Downside:  Stirring someone’s emotions for the moment, isn’t necessarily going to bring long-term results.

Solution:  So, rather than thinking about instilling or stirring passion, think about activating passion.  I believe everyone has passion within them.  Our leadership challenge is to create the conditions in which it can be released.  Here are a few strategies that you can use to find this deep reservoir of passion resident in everyone you lead.

     Give people something to get passionate about.  Most people want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  Are you trying to accomplish something people can be passionate about?
       Be sure people understand why their work matters.  Can everyone see how their individual contribution contributes to the big picture? That’s line of sight.  If the work doesn’t matter, you can forget stirring passion in people.
     Ensure everyone is working within his/her strengths.  This is not to say people cannot be passionate outside their sweet spot.  However, to sustain passion over time, it certainly helps if people can excel in their work.  It’s hard to excel outside your giftedness.
       Set high expectations.  People generally rise to the expectations leaders place on them.  Also, I know very few people who are truly passionate when they aren’t giving their best.  Leaders call out the best in people and this fuels passion.
       Recognize the behavior you want to see repeated.  If you see passion, call it out. The behaviors you recognize and reward will be repeated.
       Be a passionate leader.  Passion is contagious. Your team will not be more passionate than you are.  Is passion a term your current team would use when describing you?

Monday, October 27, 2014

BLING - Women's Style of Leadership (Part 4)

We've been talking about how God created women to be leaders.  The attributes of Himself that He put into His daughters to make them effective leaders.  We've mentioned the fact that He created us to be better communicators and better at collaboration.  Today we are going to look at the fact that God created us with…

     More Patience.  Women are far more patient with we lead than men.  We are less likely to jump to an immediate conclusion or make a quick decision or take action too soon.  You notice I say less likely, because we all have our days.  But studies show that women are willing to wait longer for a desired result.  Which is a good thing because as you know “Rome wasn’t built it a day.”  Patience allows for the development of late bloomers.  It helps us be better listeners.  It helps us manage stress.  It keeps us from jumping to conclusions and gives us the time to stop to consider the impact of the decisions we make and whom we might be affecting by making them. 

Patience is important because it is all about the people.  Strong leadership requires many virtues: vision, communication skills, empowerment, delegation, and coaching skills.  One characteristic of effective leaders that you don’t often hear about is patience.  Leaders require patience because they deal with people, not machines.  Unlike machines, people have many quirks.  People are reluctant to change.  People develop alliances and affinities.  People have their favorite friends and preferred ways of doing things.  It takes patience to effectively work with people and accomplish your ministry, organization, or business goals and objectives.  

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Gal 6:9 ESV

Downside: In a world where technology demands speed and the pressure to produce immediate results is all around us, disciplining ourselves to be patient is tough.  Patience is not one of those attributes we seek after.  We are fully familiar with the passage in James that says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But it goes on to say,  “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  (James 1:2-4 NKJV)  So none of us like the whole idea that for us to have patience we have to go through a bunch of trails, tests and tribulations.

Solution:   Don’t wait for God to develop your patience.  Develop your patience now with these simple ways that you can practice patience in your leadership.

       See through the lens of others:  It’s easy to quickly judge someone and then share your opinion about how they “should have done things.”  As a leader, try to be objective enough to step back and remove yourself from your personal opinions and try to see the situation through the other person’s lens.  Remember that people running on empty are prone to grow impatient and lose their cool.  Be strong enough to handle the pressure and wise enough to be accountable and resolve the issue.  See the bigger picture and help those under your leadership to connect the dots toward an eventual solution, and build self-trust along the way.
       Listen and ask questions with a positive attitude:

 Practicing patience requires you to be a great listener (we’ve already talked about that) and ask questions.  It demands that you take a deep breath and let go of your own impatience to help solve a problem.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Respect and embrace the process.  Equally important is to have a positive attitude.  The power of a smile and a positive attitude can have an amazing effect on the practice of patience.  
       Seek perspective from someone you trust:  Don’t ever pretend to know all of the answers.  Oh, did you think you did?  Sorry.  No, you don’t.  Though your patience may be wearing thin, don’t force your authority on others just to push the problem away, because it will only come back later.  Learn how to pick and choose your battles.  But even more importantly, know when it’s time to seek further council.  Whenever you find yourself growing too impatient to handle a particular situation, seek advice from a mentor or another trusted resource who can add value and provide you with needed perspective.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

BLING - Women's Style of Leadership (Part 3)

Yes, I'm going to be on this Bling thing for a few more days.  I think it will help.  Today we will look at another way that God created women to be leaders…

Better at Collaboration.  It has been said that, “women leaders take care, men leaders take charge."  And it’s true that women are better community builders; most of us don’t need to tell everyone what to do like a lot of men.  I mentioned that our culture is changing and what is proving to be most effective in leadership is changing with the culture.  In this age of “connections” via the Internet, leaders who know how to build supportive relationships are becoming more successful than the traditional “alpha leaders.”  Research is showing that a more collaborative and connected leader is replacing the traditional top down, male dominated, authoritarian leader.  The best leaders are learning to lead through the influence that comes from collaboration, developing others, building relationships, and connecting.  And girls, God created us for this.  Studies show that connectedness plays an indispensable role in the success and fulfillment of women in leadership and ministry.

But why?   Not why did God create us for this, but why is collaboration so effective in today’s leadership?  First of all there is buy-in. Collaborative leadership encourages ownership of the project.  By involving everyone in decision-making and problem solving, it makes what people are doing theirs, rather than something imposed on them by someone else.  The sense of ownership builds commitment to the common purpose. Members of a collaborative group are more likely to be willing to take responsibility for implementing the group's action plan, because they were part of developing it.  It also builds trust.  Collaborative leadership, by its use of an open process and its encouragement of discussion and dialogue, builds trust among those involved in the enterprise.  And of course, there’s the inspiration.  People need to feel that what they do matters; that they matter.  When you help someone see that who they are and what they do matters, now your leading.

Nothing should be done because of pride or thinking about yourself. Think of other people as more important than yourself.  Phil 2:3 NLT

Downside:  How could there be a downside for instilling value in people through building community?  Well, the downside is that it’s time consuming.  Collaboration takes time, and decision-making that involves a large number of people may seem to proceed glacially, I mean very, very slowly, and with a great deal of friction. 

Solution:  The solution will not be quick, calm or easy, but it will be worth the effort.  Here is what you can do.

       Assure that everyone gets heard.  That means not just letting people speak in meetings, but actively soliciting the opinions of those who haven't spoken.  Between meetings, it means communicating any news and developments to people on a regular basis and giving them a chance to respond, and making sure they communicate with one another.
       Help people make real connections with one another.  In order to develop trust, especially in those who might have previously had “issues,” people need time to get to know one another.  It's up to the leader to make sure they get it, in an atmosphere that's safe and open.  The leader must exhibit trust as well as encouraging it.
       Mediate conflicts and disputes.  In any group, conflict is almost inevitable.  Trying to ignore it and hoping it will go away is probably the absolute worst way to handle it.  Conflict needs to be faced head-on and not only resolved, but used constructively, to build trust and further the work of the group.  Creative dispute resolution is a vital function of collaborative leadership.

       Push the group toward effectiveness by:  Urging it to come to decisions after there's been enough discussion.  Helping it to devise appropriate action plans.  Holding people accountable to their implementation, and other responsibilities.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

BLING - Women's Style of Leadership (Part 2)

God-given strengths that make women leaders…

1.     Better communicators.  Women are better listeners than men, and believe it or not, this is an important skill for leading.  Women are more discussion oriented and men are more action oriented.  Men communicate through activities rather than conversations.  It’s just the way that we are wired.  Don’t you love that God wired men and women differently?  Wouldn’t life be boring if we were all a like?  Not convinced?  God was, and He’s…um…God.  He created us differently for a purpose.  He created us with the ability to listen, and communicate which helps us immensely in leadership.  People want to be heard.  They want their leaders to hear their point of view.  When we incorporate this ability it will lead to stronger relationships that are built on trust.  It establishes loyalty. Not only are we good listeners, we’re good at reading non-verbal clues, and picking up on tone of voice and hearing what is not being said, but needs to be heard.

Do your best to know that God is pleased with you.  Be as a workman who has nothing to be ashamed of. Teach the words of truth in the right way. 2 Tim 2:15 NLT

Downside: Did you notice I didn’t mention talking in this discussion of being better communicators?  Being a great communicator is not being a great talker.  Unfortunately, many of us think of communication as talking, and we so love to talk.  But plain talking focuses on the messenger, “moi,” not the message, or the person receiving the message.  We can talk and talk and not really communicate a thing.  Now I admit that there are exceptions; we’re not all talkers.  But there are a high percentage of us that are.  And it actually hurts our leadership rather than helps is.  

Solution: So what’s the solution?  Obviously, it is learning to be better listeners and observers.  Rather than focusing solely on what we want to say, we should pay close attention to the person or group we are addressing so that we “read” them and adapt our message “without missing a beat.”  I’m not talking about some woo-woo mind reading or one of the gifts of the Spirit; its accurately picking up non-verbal clues.

Human beings communicate not only with words but with the body as well.  I’m sure that we recognize that the face is the most expressive part of our body.  We can say more with a lift of a single eyebrow, than with a hundred carefully chosen words.  Nonverbal communication includes:

       Eye Contact:  Looking at the other person, both when speaking and listening, implies that what is being said is important and that you value the other individual.  If you try to watch T.V., read the newspaper or washing dishes while another person is talking or listening diminishes the importance of the conversation.  While some communication can obviously take place while being semi-occupied, important communication should be given our undivided attention, which is demonstrated with our eyes.

       Facial Expression:  Frowning, puffing out ones cheeks, rolling the eyes, lifting a single eyebrow, or pursing the lips often communicates anger, disbelief, or disapproval.  All of the above facial expressions impede communication.  A pleasant or attentive expression encourages communication; it tells the speaker that their message is being heard.

    Posture:  Facing and turning your body toward the other person communicates receptivity.  Assuming an open body position, with arms at your side also communicates receptivity.  Conversely, if you sit or stand with your arms folded across your chest or your body turned away from the speaker your non-verbal cues indicate that you are closing yourself off to what the other person is saying, or that you are angry or disinterested.

       Gestures:  Some of the common negative gestures include:  Pointing one’s finger (blame), shrugs of the shoulder (I don’t care), fidgeting with something in your hands (discomfort), looking at a watch or clock (I would rather you stop talking), shaking ones head side to side, (you’re wrong.)

Positive gestures obviously include the absence of negative gestures, as well as nodding your head yes (I hear you), leaning toward the other person (this is important), and rubbing your hands together  (anticipation and excitement.)

Being a great communicator is about meeting the needs and the expectations of the audience.  As you receive non-verbal clues, you adjust what you are saying.  I’m saying that you flip-flop.  You just change how you are going about it.  

OKAYthat's just point onetomorrowpoint 2

Friday, October 24, 2014

BLING…Leadership Women's Style

“We’ve come a long way baby,” was a part of an ad campaign in 1968 for a brand of woman’s cigarettes. We picked up on the phrase and have used it ever since. It’s kind of like the phrase, “Where’s the Beef.” (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it. It might be before your time.) But I digress. My point is we have come a long way from the days of Women’s Suffrage here in the United States. The fight for women’s right to vote was achieved gradually at state and local levels during the late 19th and early 20th centuries until in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed and you and I were legally granted the right to vote. Not only were we given the right to vote, but we were also granted the right to run for public office. In the 21st century we have women leaders in governmental positions, NPO’s, and major corporations. But women in leadership positions in the church have been slower coming. Misunderstanding of some key verses in the New Testament has kept women from leadership positions in many churches. I’ll be honest. It’s been a long fight for us ladies. And while the fight is showing progress, I feel it’s had some negative results as well. I’ve noticed a couple of things.

Women leaders often act and dress manly to fit in with the boys.
Women leaders seem to be apologetic and even hesitant in their leadership style.
Women leaders are combative, trying to force their place.

Now, not all women leaders fit into these categories, but enough do that it’s caused me some concern. I want to take a closer look at how God made us, and how His design makes us great leaders.

Before we get started I want to ask you a question. Did you know that there is an idea floating around the corporate world that women actually make better leaders than men, and that it’s gaining ground? Times change. Cultures change. Leadership is now more about relationships, emotional intelligence, listening skills and nurturing talent. Doesn’t that sound like us gals? We all know that women have better verbal skills, are more perceptive in reading nonverbal clues, and are able to maintain high energy. Well, maybe not today, but typically. Men tend to be too individualist, competitive, and aggressive in this new culture of leadership. But it’s those very characteristics that have proven through time to be more effective in leadership. Men are more attentive to the whole power structure deal, and of course, to task-oriented behaviors. But probably the most important thing that men have going for them is that they are better able to see themselves as leaders.

Please understand that this isn’t an “us vs them” lesson. Our differences can lead to complementary leadership styles, especially as women grow in self-confidence. But unfortunately confidence alone won’t make us sparkle as leaders. The BLING comes from knowing our strengths and weaknesses, and avoiding common mistakes many of us make in leadership. We are going to look at the strengths that God gave women that make us good leaders. We’re also going to look at the downside of these strengths that can end up being weakness that makes us poor leaders. Of course, then we’ll look at solutions that will help all of us improve our leadership skills. Oh yes, and before you tune out. This lesson is for you. You may not stand on the front line of battle leading the charge, but you can and do lead where you are. So this lesson is for you too.  Each day I will post a section of this Heart to Heart lesson, because I think we could all use it.  See, or rather, will connect with you tomorrow.  Right now I'm in Cambodia.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When not to surrender...

I taught a lesson recently about surrender.   It was about trusting God enough to surrender our lives into His hands at the most difficult and trying times.  Surrendering to God is ALWAYS the way to go.  But there is a type of surrender that NEVER is good for you.  It's a type of surrender that is tinged with hopelessness.

Have you ever thought…
§  Why bother? Nothing will work out.

§  There's no use in trying.

§  I'm too old (ugly, poor, boring, damaged, etc.)

§  It will never get better
§  I’m a failure
§  Nothing is ever going to change.

I don’t think that I’m the only one who have had such thoughts or experienced this dark emotion of the soul.  I won’t ask you to raise you hands, but I know I’m addressing some women here today who have experienced hopelessness.  When we do it’s difficult to remember that any other emotion exists. Sometimes we feel hopeless because of something that happens to us, or we make a mistake, a huge mistake or we have to deal with a big disappointment, we lose something or someone we care about deeply, or have to deal with situations that are overwhelming.  Whatever the cause of the hopelessness, do not to give into despair.  Hopelessness is an illusion.  All of these thoughts I just mentioned earlier are lies about the future, your future.  You have more control over hopelessness, and your life than you may think.  Life is never hopeless, we just feel like they are.  There are always actions we can take to feel better.  

1.     Doubt your hopelessness
2.     Refuse to give up.
3.     Find a creative way to express yourself.
4.     Recognize a purpose, the purpose; God’s purpose for your life.
5.     Accept that some things are hopeless, but you are not.  Accept your value your value in Christ and find a way to go on.
6.     Be good to yourself.  Don’t wait for others to be good to you.  Be good to yourself.
7.     Cry.  Yep…cry.  It’s a good release.  Then wash your face and read a funny book, watch a funny movie or put on a CD of a good, clean comedian.
8.     Learn to be present.  Live in the moment.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  It’s a biblical principle that is important for your emotional and spiritual health.
9.     Dream about what a better future would look like.  See it, envision it, and then make plans for it.

10.  Pray, worship, fast, memorize scripture, and hang out with Christian women who will cry and laugh with you.

If hopelessness persists, you're probably dealing with a "spirit of hopelessness."  Whether it is spiritual or emotional in origin, Banish hopelessness from your life right now today…and every day hereafter. Hopelessness and leadership really doesn't mix!
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