Book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

During my early graphic design days at church, there was nothing more that I wanted than to be the church’s video editor. I remember being in a meeting with my senior pastors and was asked if I would one day like to be the video department head. I was 24 years old then, and so much of my future was unknown. I knew I wanted a family and I would want to be a stay a home mom, so my answer was, “One day, I want to be married with kids.” They all looked at me and said,”Yes, but would you like to be the video department head in the future?” I smiled, and said, “Yes”. The thought of having my own family, was about to make me draw back from what I knew was my calling. I am very glad that no one listened to my answer in that meeting and still decided to developed me as a leader.

There is a similar story in Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She is the CFO of Facebook and is passionate about encouraging women to never stop leaning in towards new opportunities at their job. As I read, I was horrified at the different studies of women drawing back or giving up. Also, at the different challenges women have to overcome in order to be taken as a leader. I am fortunate that at my work place, the men believe in the women, and I know that’s because of my senior pastor who broke the mold and is an amazing woman preacher and pastor. I started to see I was my bully, telling myself I can’t or I’m scared or I’m just a girl.

“We internalize messages that say it’s wrong for us to be outspoken, aggressive, and as powerful as – or even more powerful than -men…We hold ourselves back not just out of fear or seeming too aggressive but also by underestimating our abilities.”

“At Facebook, I teach managers to encourage women to talk about their plans to have children and help them continue to reach for opportunities.” 

And this was true for me at meetings:

“If you take the chair on the side of the room, he will take the seat at the table because he knows he’s awesome. So please remember that you deserve a seat at the same table..and that you are awesome too.” 

The book is full of encouraging words and shared experiences from other leading women professionals, to believe in yourself, that you are more than capable, to have a thriving career. To develop a true partnership with your husband, and being co-parents to take care of the daily house hold items and to never stop leaning in towards promotions and leadership positions. I realize I am apart of a new generation of women who work, and its awesome to read I can have a career that I am passionate about and have a family.

“The goal is to work toward a world where those social norms no longer exist. If more children see fathers at school pickups and mothers who are busy at jobs, both girls and boys will envision more options for themselves. Expectations will to be set by gender but by personal passion, talents, and interests.”

Whether I decide to be a stay a home mom or keep working at a job. I am encouraged to keep taking a leadership role in my life. Either way I will be leading my kids or leading others.

Lead like The Experts – Book: EntreLeadership

Its funny how a random conversation can lead to a life time of change. When I was new to the video department at my church, I had a conversation with a co-worker in the break room about my current challenges. I had no idea how to lead and I was now overlooking a new editor. She told me to read John Maxwell’s Learning the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. After completing the book, it dramatically changed the way I understood leadership and I made it a life time habit to read about leading.

I look at reading books is another way of being mentored by the successful and wealthy. This week, I completed Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership audio book. I was encouraged to impart leadership skills in my team mates. It was interesting to learn how Dave, a very successful entrepreneur, leads his company. The book taught how to delicate successfully, trusting your team mates and handing off responsibilities with strategic planning and training. As soon as I completed the book, I met up with my team and applied the new principles. The outcome was amazing, it was as if I knew what I was doing.. and thanks to all the books I’ve read, I now do!

Leading like an expert requires willingness to never stop learning and putting to practice what you learned.

Lead

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The first time I was asked to be a leader was when I was a kid playing follow the leader. I would only lead for a few seconds and then call out someone else to lead. I hated the pressure of everyone looking to me for direction. I would break away from the crowd and go on my own to play something else.

Now as an adult, I realized I had the same reaction when it came to leading at work. When I was promoted, I hesitated and thought, “Me?”

Some say you’re born a leader, for me I wasn’t going to focus if I was or not, I needed to learn how to lead. I was given a task and now I had others looking to me for answers.

Read books, lots of them. Reading books about leadership, personality types, working in the work place, and biographies is like having a really deep conversation with people who are super successful. I recommend: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leaders, Relevant Magazine, and Quiet; The Power of the introvert.

Listen to Podcasts. If you sit down at a computer all day, listening to Podcast like, This American Life, Snap Judgement, Graphic Designer Podcast, NPR Ted, This is Your Life by Micheal Hyatt, Relevant, RadioLab and so many others, you will hear stories and interviews that will give you such insight about life and people.

Ask questions When it came to asking clients questions, I was afraid I was bothering them. I had to tell myself I’m not bugging them, the information they are giving me is for their project. Think of your questions before hand and ask when you have their full attention.

Listen to the team. The old school way is my way or the highway. For my personality, that wasn’t working well. After reading Quiet; The Power of the introvert, I learned listening to my team’s suggestions wasn’t a sign of weakness but that introverts can thrive with proactive workers.

Listen to Feed Back. Hearing feed back about your work performance can be hard but in the long run, it can help you. I grow most from feed back.

Watch your Thinking. We grow up believing so many lies about our self. The more we are aware of them, the faster can stop them from holding us back from leading with confidence.

I know it’s easy to let the Carismatic extroverts take over but the world needs more introverted leaders.

Team Player to Team Leader

(photo: 2005 a volunteer editor at Hillsong Church, hiding in the basement editing.)

For years I have enjoyed sitting silently behind my computer editing, trying not to bring attention to myself. I like being flawlessly invisible because people only notice the video when there is a mistake.

When I started as an editor at The Rock Church I was invited in to a meeting. I remember sitting there listening to future plans. At one point everyone looked at me as my pastor asked, “Are you willing to take the video department one day?” I sat there thinking, Do you really think I can? I answered him and said, “I think so.”

Now that I am living it, I see a new area in my life being challenged. There are times when the, “one man band” mentality kicks in and I want to do everything myself. I am learning how to invest my time to teach others and allow them to take on the responsibility. When I see them catch on and run with it, I stand back and admire the growth in which I just saw. Its great knowing I am helping build into the lives of others.

The past few weeks I have analyzed other leaders at my church. How they act, talk, and deal with volunteers. Almost like an actor would study a character he is about to become. Our youth pastor said something great to me after we had a meeting with the video department’s first official intern. He said, “How much you put in to this new intern will determine what you get out of him.” As I take the time to teach our intern new skills it allows me to pay attention to other areas. It’s like growing an extra set of hands.

I once saw the manager of Farmer Boys mopping. It was an odd sight, as the manager was in his suit and tie cleaning up, I thought, “Doesn’t he have other important things to do? Shouldn’t he give that to someone who is new at the job?” Seeing that made me take a look at how I was leading.

As the team grows, so does our individual capacity. My goal is to lead by empowering others. Back in 2008 my pastors and leaders saw potential in me, and now its my turn to see it in others.