January 12, 2015

Leadership and Learning

I thought I knew my leadership style pretty well. I was the reliable person who showed up every week. I didn’t usually say much, but I could be counted on to be present and to offer an opinion when I felt strongly. Yet, during my time on my church’s Leadership Table (what most Episcopal churches would call a vestry), I found I was fulfilling a slightly different role: the person who asked hard questions. 

From time to time, we all surprise ourselves. This has happened to me often, especially when I find myself in a leadership role. 

Last year, I stepped off the Leadership Table, which led me to reflect a bit on my experience. My church, St. Lydia’s, is a young congregation. I participated in the process of coming up with our governance guidelines and helped guide as we moved from parish hall to rented space to our own storefront. I loved being on the leadership team. The group is optimistic, courageous, and supportive and it was overwhelmingly positive experience. 

During my time on the leadership team I found a thoughtfulness and thoroughness in myself I hadn’t recognized before. I found I was one of the more cautious members, encouraging us to ask difficult questions and think about what to do if things don’t go as planned, without acting out of fear. 
Others, I am certain, learned things about themselves as well. We were all learning as we were leading. 

I think this is always the case. Leadership and learning go hand-in-hand. A leader who is not prepared to learn and grow cannot lead effectively. Arguably, even Jesus learned about himself and throughout his own ministry.

Leadership requires some self-knowledge, and it requires people with different skills and talents. Vestry members must be are willing to grow into their roles in their group, and a vestry needs a variety of leadership styles, whether it’s the optimist, the person who is always ready to volunteer, or the cautious voice. 

If you are a vestry member or considering joining your church's leadership somehow, ask yourself: What is my leadership style? What can I offer to the group? And be prepared to surprise yourself. 

Don't miss a blog post! Subscribe via email or RSS, using the grey box on the upper right