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7 Ways Women Sabotage Their Leadership, Part 2

Understanding how we undermine ourselves

Over the years I have met many fantastic women leaders. I lean forward to hear their every word and am always grateful to spend a spare hour with them over a cup of coffee or on a walk. I have also met some not-so-great female leaders—the kind whose staffs live with a low-grade fear in their eyes. How can you ensure you fall into the first category and not the second?

This is the second in a two-part series on ways women can undermine themselves as female leaders:

4. Permit emotions to take over your leadership. Some women and men feel emotions on a deeper and stronger level. The trick to feeling emotions to this proportion is to feel them without letting them hijack your leadership. When you encounter a situation in which your emotions bubble to the surface, take a step back. You may even need to remove yourself from the situation or room. Make sure that when you do reenter, you respond rather than react. If you don't, you may find yourself becoming shrill, saying things you can't take back, and using an edgy tone. Instead of drawing those you lead closer, a sharp tone can cut and push others away.

Too often, women in ministry have allowed their emotions to get the best of them and developed an unhealthy reputation for it. God gave you emotions as a gift—but

being a good leader means responding in grace and love seasoned with patience. We need to acknowledge our emotions while continuing to walk in winsome ways.

5. Give up being a woman. In order to survive in male leadership circles, far too many women have given up one of God's greatest gifts—the distinctiveness of being female. This can slip into our thinking, actions, and behavior, affecting the way we carry ourselves, dress, and respond to others.

To be a great woman leader doesn't mean you have to suppress your gender. As an alternative, highlight your gender by accentuating the best aspects of who God created you to be. God created women with special sensibilities, sensitivities, and distinct views that you, as a female, bring to the table. Celebrate these facets of your womanhood.

6. Be overly relationship driven. I was recently part of a church where several women were leading a production meeting. They took the first 20 minutes to connect relationally with other fellow leaders. The next 20 minutes were spent talking about others in the church who were or were not relationally connected. By the time the women leaders were finished, half of the allotted time was already spent—and nothing had been accomplished for the production meeting.

While it's important to focus on relationships and the relational health of any group, oversensitivity to the point of unproductivity can become a problem. This may call for some rearranging and fancy footwork until you find a system that works best for you. Can you separate relational meetings from production meetings? Can you save networking until the end of the day or a meal? Can you focus other females you're leading on the task at hand and set aside more intentional relational connection for other gatherings?

7. Try to become superwoman. Sometimes as leaders, regardless of gender, we try to do too much. This is particularly true when we find ourselves delegating assignments and then taking them back—convincing ourselves that we could do the job better.

If we try to do too much and hold onto all the responsibilities too long, our fingers and hearts can forget the amazing things that God can do when simply let go and delegate projects to others. It's amazing to see how others develop their God-given talents and passions when we choose to step back. Sure, the signage might not be as great, and the brochure may not be as well-worded, but over time with a little coaching, you'll find those you leading blossoming in new ways.

What are some of the most valuable lessons you've learned as a woman in leadership?

Margaret Feinberg is a popular speaker and author of more than two dozen books, including Hungry for God: Hearing His Voice in the Ordinary and the Everyday. You can follow Margaret on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mafeinberg.

April30, 2012 at 12:06 PM

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