I was chatting with Tim Harle recently, one of the leaders of the Voyage Leadership Programme, and we were reflecting on how few female writers on leadership there are.
Although women are slowly but surely beginning to move into more senior leadership positions, they don't seem to want to write about their experience of leadership. Which is a real shame because I do think that an exploration of a feminine model of leadership is overdue. It's something that I'm passionate about, helping women priests to discover their own voices in ministry rather than having to default to the more masculine models of priesthood that have been the norm to date.
Not only do I think it will help women but also those men who find very masculine models of leadership uncomfortable. In addition, by providing a clear contrast, a better understanding of differences between masculine and feminine models of leadership will help male leaders understand more about their masculinity in leadership, something that must be key to creating churches which are attractive to men.
So I was delighted to find a book by Laurie Beth Jones called Jesus, CEO (thank you Douglas). It's not really a 'women's leadership' book but at least it is a book on leadership written by a woman! A bit like Bill Hybel's recent book 'Axioms', the book takes different aspects of Jesus' leadership style and explores them in short chapters designed to stimulate thought rather than give a comprehensive exposition of theory (which most busy leaders don't have time for anyway...)
I liked the chapter on 'He guarded his energy'. Laurie Beth observes that leadership is mentally exhausting and encourages leaders not to get involved in distractions and periphery activities which sap energy and add little or no value. I experienced this recently when I allowed myself to get drawn into a debate where it rapidly became clear that the other people in the room had not intention of changing their view, whatever argument was advanced.
Sometimes you just have to accept that there is no point in going round the same houses again and you need to find a new way of coming at a problem. The 'guillotine' which is often used in political debate is a good idea - eventually, when you're just hearing the same views restated over and over again, the leader has to have the courage to say 'Enough. This is what we are going to do.' And as my mother would have added 'Like it or lump it.' Now, that may be the essence of female leadership...!?