Why Women Fail to Lead Well

Joan of Arc, Jane Austen, Queen Elizabeth, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Margret Thatcher, Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton, Mother Teresa – all very different female leaders. Some found cures for disease, some were a voice for the marginalised and disadvantaged, others ruled nations. But they all led. They set an example for us to follow.

During my lifetime women have become more empowered. Where it was once rare to find women in the workplace, today it is normal. We went from having no say, to having it all in one giant swoop.

Despite this many women still struggle to lead well. The world has become more accepting of women leaders, but have women grown to accept themselves as leaders? Have women learnt to embrace leadership as more than a right, but where they belong?

While women in leadership is a new phenomenon for our society, it isn’t for God. Father has always seen women as leaders. The Almighty knows we are capable. He gave authority, dominion and power to all men and women. Women are created to lead and lead well.

So why don’t we?

We fail to recognise ourselves as leaders

What do you think of when I say woman in leadership? Executives? Prime Ministers? The illustrious list of names at the beginning of this piece?

But do you think of yourself? Do you see yourself as a leader?

The greatest reason women fail to lead well is because they refuse to acknowledge themselves as leaders. They believe themselves not qualified and incapable of leadership. They see themselves as insignificant and unworthy.

The greatest reason women fail to lead well is because they refuse to acknowledge themselves as leaders

Not acknowledging yourself as a leader is not humble. The excuse of, “But I’m just a…” doesn’t cut it. Denial is more than refusing to acknowledge yourself as a leader, it is a lack of leadership. Refusing to be a leader is poor leadership.

You are a leader. As a Christian you are a priest. You are a King. You lead.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Your kids don’t need poor leadership. You husband doesn’t need poor leadership. Your coworkers don’t need poor leadership. Girls trafficked through Europe don’t need poor leadership. Starving children of Africa don’t need poor leadership. They need strong leadership. From you.

There is more opportunity and acceptance of female leadership than ever before. There are no excuses for us. The world needs our leadership. Step up and lead.

Leadership is not a right

The recent surge in female leadership has prompted some to believe leadership is a right. Women don’t have the right to leadership because leadership is not a right. Leadership is not a title or a calling. If you wait for an invitation to lead you are not being a leader. Leadership is not an award or promotion.

Leadership is initiative. It is pioneering.

Jael was just a girl in a tent. No one asked her to do anything. There was no expectation. She had no title. Yet she recognised opportunity and even when no one was watching, she decided to lead.

That, my friend, is true leadership at its best.

We don’t lead from grace

Modern perceptions of leadership are more like dictatorship – where the authority figure rules with an iron fist. But that is not the example of leadership we see in Jesus. Jesus led as a servant. He led by grace.

When you think about it, women should be naturally gifted at leading by grace. We are innately compassionate, considerate and servant-hearted.

Nothing is more off putting than a woman trying to lead like a man. Okay, one thing is more off putting, a woman using her sexuality to lead.

Leading is not humiliating someone back into line. Leadership is not manipulating the situation to get your way.

Leadership is best when comes from the position of grace. Grace paves the way so followers don’t get hurt. Grace releases others into their potential. Grace leads as a servant.

Get out there and lead well

1 Chronicles 4:9–10 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

The essence of leadership is expansion. And it is not comfortable. It is hard. But since when has being a woman been comfortable? This is our territory. We know uncomfortable. We know hard. We know the pain of birthing something new. Jabez may have prayed for expansion, but his mother felt it first.

The essence of leadership is expansion.

Leadership will extend you and push you past the limits of yourself. It will take you to foreign ground and challenge your strength. But there is no reason to fear leadership. You aren’t doing it alone. Father is ever present and He will deliver you from trouble.

Get excited. New opportunities of leadership are around the corner. Don’t hesitate. Step into them. Unleash the leader you were born to be because you are more leader than you know. You are a woman who leads well.

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