Just Lead! Week Four

And, just like that we’re in our final week.

Chapter 9 – Overcoming the Communication Barrier

1. What part of communication do you struggle with the most?

2. Where do you need to be more sensitive to how your emotions come through in your communication?

3. In what types of situations do others most commonly misunderstand you?

4. When do you feel the most comfortable or confident in your communication?

SJ-“Leadership rises or falls on communication” (p. 115). The longer I’m in leadership the more I believe this. And I agree with Jenni (p. 117) that communication is a two-way street: we have to listen to understand and communicate to be understood. Here’s an outline of her steps toward understanding and being understood:

a. Be a good listener.

b. Be self aware.

c. Be sensitive.

d. Be direct and confident.

e. Pay attention to your timing.

f. Just be you.

Of all these, being a good listener might be the hardest for me…for a few reasons. Sometimes I can be too set on proving I’m right. God has been pointing this out to me for some time now. Self-awareness is a big part of this hang-up of mine, so they work together completely. Another reason I might not be a good listener is when my emotions are getting the best of me and I become too defensive.  When that happens I not only quit listening, I can quit being reasonable and rational. Her steps toward being a good listener are good. Focus and keeping an open mind (p. 120) are key, but first I have to breathe, acknowledge when I’m off course, say a prayer, and re-focus. Asking clarifying questions helps too.

Loved her “feedback sandwich:” compliment, critique, compliment (p. 125). Brilliant! Sadly, I have been that person who packed my sandwich so full of leafy condiments that the meat got lost. I have grown a lot in the department of directness, many thanks to my son and my job. I hope to continue growing!

Timing is everything. I typically have a little knack there, especially when I seek God’s timing first. Her final suggestion of just being myself I also agree with. I think we women have a horrible tendency to try to be someone else (that comparison thing). I used to apologize for my emotionality; I used to think I shouldn’t show emotion. What God has been teaching me is that He created me with emotion, so I shouldn’t shy away from it. I do need to learn to have self-control, patience, etc…but it’s okay to show passion and joy and sadness and frustration.

Gosh, I can’t say enough about self-awareness. I really think ALL this hinges on knowing ourselves as best as possible, tapping into our strengths and finding ways to compensate for our weaknesses (not to mention leaning into God for His strength). It wasn’t that many years ago that I finally realized I am an introvert. Tests were never conclusive for me…I was always down the middle, on the fence. But when I discovered at my core I’m an introvert, I began to realize what I need to do to ensure I’m functioning at capacity. I need sufficient rest, time alone, time to think/process before I can make decisions. When I’ve given myself these things, I am most confident, sensitive, and able to communicate.

Chapter 10 – Put the Boxing Gloves Down

1. Have you had painful experiences with other women that have affected your leadership? How have you dealt with them? Have you brought them into the light?

2. When you face tension in leading other women, do you find yourself reacting as Shrinking Violet, Retaliating Rita, or Cynical Cindy? Is there another reaction that you deal with? What do you do about it?

3. When leading other women, do you struggle more with jealousy, judging, or being their champion? Is there another area that causes you difficulty? What is it?

SJ-I’m a peacemaker, a pleaser…when it comes to fight or flight, I RUN. So my first reaction to a chapter like this one is, “Oh, I don’t need this. I don’t wear boxing gloves.” Then I read the chapter and realize…”Ohhhh, maybe I relate to this more than I thought!” Honestly, I’ve been all three of the extreme reactors…Violet, Rita, and Cindy. Sadly, I’m sure each one will rear their ugly heads again some day. But here’s hoping I’ve learned a little something in my years of experience and through a study like this one so that they remain FAR away most days.

Shrinking Violet happens when I’m either totally angry and my emotions have taken control of my brain OR when I’m so overwhelmed I literally don’t know what to do, so I do nothing. Early on in ministry, Violet was around often. I’m happy to say she doesn’t show up very often because I’m learning to breathe and pray through emotion, to explain my state of mind and ask for grace or more time, and to speak up even when I’m mad…all those strategies of communicating we just learned really work!

Retaliating Rita is rare. In fact, if I hadn’t just had a season where she made a surprise appearance, I might have thought she didn’t exist for me. But she does, and apparently when I’m made to defend decisions and actions that I feel are warranted. (that need to be right thing…) I learned a lot about myself in this season…some good, some not so good. But I did learn. And communication (with God and with this leader) was the ONLY thing that kept the whole thing from going bust.

Cynical Cindy shows up when I’m tired or around someone who’s constantly negative. I had a LONG season a few years ago when both were happening on a daily basis. I was new in this position and was exhausted everyday. I worked with a couple of people who seemed to be negative about almost everything. And I got sucked in. God gave me a glimpse of this negativity, and I had to do some major mind and attitude shifting to start overcoming it. I’ve learned to surround myself with optimists and keep my thoughts on God, His promises, His truths. I think that’s what the Bible calls guarding our minds!

Chapter 11 – Engaging the Next Generation of Leaders

1. Do you have young women leaders in your church or organization? If you don’t, why do you think this is so? If you do, what’s worked for you that you could offer to others?

2. What do you think holds most young women back in their leadership?

3. Do you personally encourage young women in their leadership? Why or why not?

SJ-One thing Jenni and Sherry do is challenge us with some really tough questions that if we answer honestly can be very convicting. This is one of them. If I’m honest…not defensive or “right”…I have seen how true this can be. We can ask a young person to be in a leadership role, but really what we’re doing is filling a spot because it’s expected. But are we really asking that person to lead? To try new things? I think we’re coming along in this department, but I realize after this chapter there is much more we can be doing.

So, it’s one thing for me to look at our church and ask these questions, it’s another thing entirely for me to ask myself! Ouch. And, really, control is an issue for me. God’s been working on me in this area since my Emmaus Walk in 1996. I’ve come a long way, but in leadership, I’ve a long way to go. I’m a do-er. But I am in a season of learning how to be a share-er and a release-er and a delegate-er.

Sometimes it’s a trust thing. A lot of times it’s a time thing…it’s faster just to do it myself, you know?

So this chapter slapped me across the face…and lit a fire in my heart! I love the idea of being challenged by others (young or old) and I want to love the idea of taking risks (that control thing).

When it comes to inviting the younger generation to step into leadership with me, I get very excited, so I’m grateful for the information in this chapter:

a. Place trust in people, not experience. Experience has a lot of weight in church leadership, so this is BIG.

b. Pay attention to how you speak. Now that I’m working with younger folks, I know how true “speak business” vs “speak social” really is. Funny thing is I don’t wholly fall in either camp. On that fence again…

c. Use your shoulders. LOVED this one. It’s true, I have experience and they have new ideas. Let’s figure out how to tap into both! Her suggestions to (never lead alone) invite a young person to accompany me to meetings or other experiences is another stroke of brilliance…and not hard to do. And like Sherry, encouragement comes more easily for me, but I do need to be consistent with it.

d. Operate in reverse. Oh my goodness if I didn’t buy that “Reverse Mentoring” book a few years ago at a conference. Have I read it? No. Should I? Apparently!

I feel like in some ways we’ve come full circle because as I read the end of this chapter (and the book), I feel like I’m back to the issue of needing those consistent encouragers AND challengers in my life. Now I’ll add a layer to that and challenge myself to be a champion of women leaders…which happens to be a growing passion of mine.

What is God doing here? If I’ve learned anything in this study, it’s that God IS doing something, and all I have to do is seek what THE NEXT STEP is. I don’t need to fret about what the future holds or how I’m going to accomplish big dreams. All I (and you) need to do is seek God for the next step.

Don’t whine. Don’t get defensive. Don’t pout. Just lead!

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

2 thoughts on “Just Lead! Week Four

  1. KD: Wow, hard to believe we are at the end of this 4 weeks! JUST LEAD has been packed with great insight, truths and encouraging ideas!!

    Chapter 9:

    !Communication; Communication; Communication!
    Always a huge issue for everyone in every type relationship!
    1) Listening has become somewhat of a lost art, but I’ve always been very interested in what people have to say!! As a positive my friends know that I will truely “hear” them. A downside – I retain almost every word and you might not want to be reminded of what you said! :)!

    2) Absolutely I feel God blessed women with strong people skills that allow us to read situations precisely and pick up all types of information. Being a good listener can open up an even broader view to these insights!

    3) An area in developing stronger leadership skills that I can definitely work on is communicating the vision more clearly; define boundries more boldly and set fair but specific expectations. To do this I feel requires less concern about how it will be received; if it will be popular and whether I have a majority!

    4) Jenni’s example of being misunderstood in emails is so accurate! In leadership or team roles I feel it is very important to discuss how inflection, tone and emotion can be lost or misunderstood in emails, texts, or on social media! I always feel the need to make every effort at being aware of how something would or could be received before pushing that “SEND” button. Reread, Reread, etc.!!

    5) Being self aware has definitely been a work in progress. Ever since I was a little girl I can hear my Mother saying, “You are not a pocker face! Be careful how you show your feelings!” Non-verbal cues, especially at home, are quite common with me! If I’m afraid to say it, you might “hear” it on my face!

    6) Therefore what is true in our hearts whether good or bad, will often be reflected in our words and actions (expressions)! The fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) are such a wonderful gift from God! Thankfully, He knows I can’t always say or express what is right or in the right way on my own! It is good for me if I first pray and reflect on these gifts before approaching any situations!

    7) “Feedback Sandwich” was definitely a new term for me! Besides in mentoring future leaders, it works great with kids and teenagers too! I agree though, layering with compliments too thick can cause the important point or message to get lost! Being quick to praise; being slow to criticize is absolutely important. I agree that too much criticism can start to become negative and get shut people down or create an atmosphere of avoidance!

    8) I agree with Jenni! God has given women a large dose of emotional intelligence and intuition. I too feel my best communication happens one-on-one especially when challenged with a group of all women! It can be hard to communicate in that large group you are in if you are the only one listening!!

    Chapter 10: Put the Boxing Cloves Down

    Loved all of Sherry’s insight and ideas here!

    1) Being in leadership roles especially with all women, can be very emotional and stressful! Most women I have worked with are wonderful, but in every organization or on every team there can be at times what I like to call a “pot stirrer”! I have even watched some women mold others to do the same. Depending on my role in the organization or group often determines how well or not so well I handle the situation.

    2) In handling these challenging situations I can respond as either a “shrinking Violet” or a “Retaliating Rita”. Neither a great response! I usually shrink when either I’m hurt (usually because I thought “she” was my friend) or because I was in a season not emotionally equipped for the circumstances. RETREAT at the time appears to be the best and only option in my mind. Retaliating Rita can emerge when I’m so convinced that the disruption is either hindering the groups efforts and successes or it is being taken in an entirely wrong direction!

    I have seen even from observing from the outside, how destructive women can be when jealousy, territorialism or back-stabbing is aimed at other women! I know at times I myself have been quilty!! I also know that the Holy Spirit usually convicts me and I quickly see my huge error in judgement! I love Sherry’s reference to 1Thes. 5:9-11. I pray that most of the time I’m speaking encouraging words!!

    Chapter 11: Engaging the Next Generation of Leaders

    Hopefully with AGE comes WISDOM. In summary, I really like all the authors’ suggestions for helping engage more young women in leadership!

    LISTEN and ENCOURAGE are two great places to start! Putting young leaders “on your shoulders” is a great concept. In my minimal experience, my best observation of this concept has been from belonging to a large women’s organization that specializes in leadership and volunteer training. Through this I have been on the receiving end as a potential young leader and am now an older leader positioned to observe, listen and guide as new young leaders ‘JUST LEAD’! This is hopefully sustaining the organization for the future. In all honesty I love being the older leader; listening and observing these young women and gently guiding them when rarely necessary. I agree that this method of mentoring future young women leaders in the ministry appears to be a recipe for success!!!

  2. This is a late post but I finally have a few minutes to jot down some thoughts on the final chapters of “Just Lead”.
    Communications sounds like an easy thing to achieve, I speak and everyone understands what I say but how wrong that concept is in good leadership. Jenni starts chapter 9 by giving us a definition of communication from the Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior.” Sounds simple but to communicate you have to overcome language barriers, barriers in communication styles and different forms of communication such as texting, email, and telephone. I am struggling with this post, what to say, how to say it and will I still be understood.I have noticed that even the church is struggling with communication. How do you tell your story about God and Christ in ways people will understand? How do you communicate your message to those of different ages, educations levels and attention spans? If I stop and think about what I want to say before I say it I communicate better, unfortunately I don’t always stop before I speak.

    Chapter 10 let me know that some people may not like what I have to say , they may fight against what I want to bring to the table but if God has led me here he has a plan and I can’t be a Shrinking Violet, Retaliating Rita or a Cynical Cindy. I need to keep positive, bring God’s positive attitude to all situations and he will lead me through. Find those who have a like vision and bring them in as leaders.

    Many of the talent shows entertainers trying to find the next big thing. That is what Chapter 11 helped me realize that I must be on the look out for the next big thing, the next good leader and mentor them. I don’t know how Blake Shelton feels when the singer he has mentored becomes the next “Voice” winner but I bet he feels great. I hope to experience that same feeling when someone I have mentored becomes the next big thing. As a mentor I must keep myself open to new ideas, new ways to communicate and new ways to see the future.

    I have enjoyed this book and this leadership study.

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