Complexities in Leadership, Part Two

Dan and Cathy continue their conversation about the realities and complexities of being a leader. In this episode, questions about the particularities of being a woman in leadership are posed and thoughtfully addressed.

To open the conversation, Dan restates the qualities of a good (and oftentimes reluctant) leader and the harmful effects of ambitious leaders. He then asks Cathy to walk through the role of a “good queen” in an organization within the prophet, priest, king or queen matrix.

Cathy: The queen category of those three is about creating order. Being able to hold the role of the priest, who tells the story and the role of the people, create ritual, the prophet calls us to what is meant to be. The queen holds both of those realms in order and goodness for the present. It’s about creating boundaries, saying the true yes and true no, making the hard decisions that will be unpopular but are right for the kingdom, and creating flourishing for all who are involved.

Dan and Cathy then discuss what it is like to be a “queen,” or leader in a prophetic organization that is full of priests.

Cathy: I think the hardest thing is feeling like you are disappointing people all the time. I want people to see how we can be better, but always feel like your decisions are never quite good enough and it’s always a little too slow or too fast—leadership is complicated.

“Are you also willing to bear the disappointment of people who are quite brilliant, have a lot of insight, and then be able to bear their face when you say we went a different direction?”

The conversation then moves into the challenges Cathy faces as a woman in leadership. Much has changed since she took a leadership role in The Allender Center, and she’s had to go “above and beyond” to prove she deserves to be at the helm.

Dan: How do you keep your heart from being defensive when you’re having to do so much more than you know I would have to do if I were in that role?

Cathy: Even as I talk about it, it just feels so unfair, and that feels young—that feels like a part of me that’s not where I want to lead from. I think it’s been a lot of having to tend to that place that says my experience is true, and it will not win. There’s something more that God is calling me to and if I can actually trust that God has given me some sense of leadership calling and gifting that I’m meant to steward, then that makes it easier because it feels like I’m fighting against spirits and principalities versus people.

To close the conversation, Dan acknowledges Cathy’s resilience that is due, in part, to having kept her grief about being in a leadership position and what it brings. He asks her, despite the cost, what things she looks forward to in her role.

Dan: Your ability to hold both great strength, ferocity, but equal tenderness and kindness, that’s what I look for in a leader. Will you call me to go die, but also grieve that I may end up losing my life.

Cathy: There’s such an opportunity to figure out: What does it look like to lead with strength and passion and fervor but also maintain a sense of the feminine spirit of God? What does it mean for me to see part of my leadership calling as a capacity to hold life in me and birth it and to bring forth goodness and wholeness in a different sort of way than a masculine creating of it?