Recently at a community leadership breakfast, while noshing bananas and sipping coffee, I listened intently to the keynote speaker explain different leadership styles he’d encountered during his career. And how he’d tried to emulate some of what he’d observed, only to discover that being himself is the best way to lead.
I agree. We must be our true selves cause phony gets sniffed out, shown up and tossed aside. But it’s also important to acknowledge where parts of our best selves come from– from those who’ve done it first and done it better. In my life, I’ve been blessed to encounter many leaders, women in particular, who by being themselves, have made me a better leader and a better person. So sit back, sip some coffee and have a care. Cause these chicks are awesome.
Mom: Of course everybody’s mom is amazing right? Well, not everybody’s. And if your mom wasn’t very amazing, I’m truly sorry. But try to capitalize on whatever your mom got right. There must be something. My mom is not a good cook and never volunteered for the PTA. But she did teach me independence and encouraged me to follow my dreams. She always believed I could do or be anything I set my mind to, and if she believed it, I believed it. Thanks Mom.
Terry: My aunt who taught me to chew with my mouth closed, to use proper titles when addressing people and to never leave the house without lipstick!
Tracie: A department manager for a global corporation where I once worked. Never threatened by my naïve propensity to speak my mind or go over anyone’s head in search of an answer, Tracie allowed me space to learn from my own mistakes. She never insisted on any one right way to get work done. She fostered a creative environment and often shifted the spotlight away from herself onto those who worked for and with her. She liked to say, “Growth and comfort do not reside together.”
Jane: A professional church worker who, in a male dominated vocation, has taught me that women need not to wait around for men to agree on a woman’s role or worth in the mission field. She balances a healthy respect for religious and cultural traditions with a hysterical irreverence toward oppressive or graceless personalities.
Donna and Debbie: Writer/Editors who’ve opened my eyes to new opportunities and encouraged me to be fearless. Generous with time, talent and praise, they are balm for my insecurity as a writer.
Laura: An editor with the diplomacy of a United Nations peacekeeper. In the creative world of writing, this patient woman never utters public negativity about anyone or their work. But she doesn’t excuse shotty writing and offers constructive feedback that has made me a better writer and editor. She also doesn’t burn bridges and has taught me the value of occasionally keeping my big mouth shut.
Jennifer: The first of my peers to have children, this woman was made to be a mother. My kids came a few years after hers, and with no prior experience with infants, I probably would have parented much differently had I not observed Jennifer’s relaxed and easygoing style. She knows what she believes and parents accordingly, with nary a care for the nattering naybobs that drive many mothers to agonizing self-doubt. A mom who seems to truly relish the role.
I could go on but I’ll stop and encourage you to ponder those who’ve made a significant impression on you. Who is your Tracie, Jane or Jennifer and how will you honor them by becoming an impactful leader in someone else’s life?