On a still Saturday morning in September, on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin, fifty women of all ages and educational backgrounds journeyed together on a Road to Becoming a Confident Leader led by founder, speaker and author of the Backbone Institute, Susan Marshall.
Susan described a three-ring diagram, in which our comfort zone lies in the center, surrounded by our learning zone and outwardly a panic zone. As human beings, we tend to operate in “safe mode,” engaging in conversations and interactions with others where we feel most comfortable. Periodically, we have an opportunity to venture out and discover more, perhaps even welcome a period of information gathering and learn more about a situation or opportunity. When conflicts, contradicting values and the otherwise unknown alter our critical thinking, decision making and ultimately shake our confidence in our leadership ability, we’ve entered the panic zone.
After sharing her personal leadership journey, Susan invited the women to share with one another their own journeys, and then set out to dispel the myth of total confidence, all couched within the spiritual perspective that God has a plan for our lives (Jer. 29:11) and that sufferings produce endurance, character and hope (Romans 5:3.)
- Confidence is having a positive expectation for a favorable outcome.
There is no such thing as total confidence. When worried, fearful or unsure of our leadership abilities, critical thinking is not making assumptions, wishful thinking or based on memories.
- Critical thinking is the willingness and ability to see reality as it is, and make decisions accordingly.
When faced with a challenge or dilemma, critical thinking involves:
- Recognizing other people involved in the situation and their thoughts on the matter
- Addressing any assumptions you may have made about the situation itself, those involved and your leadership
- Considering who might be impacted by your decision, and what kind of impact
- Identifying compromises, and whether you can live with any of them
- Naming your desired outcome
- Taking action; even just by doing one thing to begin resolving your challenge
Things to remember:
- Consider those around you. Perhaps ask them which zone they fall into regarding the conflict – comfort zone, learning zone or panic zone.
- Consider the impact your decision may have on those around you.
- Not acting is not a strategy.
- Compromise is a potential strategy.
Susan’s workshop allowed ample time for the women to identify their own challenges and immediately apply the above critical thinking process. She called on us to both prepare our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13) call on the Holy Spirit for power, love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7).
- Feedback is another person’s response to something you do, which results in an emotional response by you. You then have an opportunity to accept it and act on it, or leave it be.
Whenever you receive feedback, “Sarah” is there:
Upon receiving feedback, whether good or bad, it is common to experience some or all of the above emotions. Consider asking yourself, or, if you’re feeling courageous, the person giving you the feedback, three questions:
- What can you do more?
- What can you do less?
- What should you continue to do?
Alternately, if you are the person giving feedback, prayerfully and thoughtfully do so with compassion, but be direct. Be certain the person knows exactly what they should do more, do less, and continue to do well.
After spending time together, the attendees were given the opportunity to give feedback about one another, which certainly produced some emotional responses (Sarah). However, this ultimately led to an awareness of the effectiveness of feedback in a leadership setting. Susan reminded us that God is on our side (Romans 8:31; Isaiah 41:10.)
The women leaders left the workshop with renewed feelings of encouragement, hope and confidence, as well as tools to equip them for exemplary Christian leadership in the home, church, workplace and the world.
"This photo is from the workshop is of all undergraduate and graduate students from CUW who attended. Twenty-one of our registrants were students! We are so excited to see the involvement of CUW and other university students with WLI! This group is truly for everyone."