It’s taken me far too long to find and start using my Leadership Voice. Because of the way I grew up, I spent most of my life assuming my voice wasn’t worth using, let alone using it for leadership. When I did find it, I vacillated between being too loud or too strong, or being too soft and holding back… sometimes I felt like I was doing both at the exact same time! But now I’m on a mission to help leaders, especially women, discover, grow, and use their Leadership Voice in a healthy, God-honoring way for the Kingdom.
Our personalities, giftedness, and backgrounds greatly influence our Leadership Voice. If you are someone who tends to hold back or downplay yourself, you probably fall on the PASSIVE side of the spectrum. Esther is a great person in the Bible to study if this is you. Even though she was very talented and had great influence, she couldn’t see it. Look for the Mordecais in your life who can help you see how God has positioned you to make a difference and will encourage to speak up. Your Leadership Voice really matters!
On the other hand, perhaps, you are more aggressive in your natural personality and style. You may come from a home that spoke their mind and didn’t hold back from conflict. Or perhaps God has given you gifts that are more expressive and future-oriented. Leaders on the AGGRESSIVE side of the spectrum can learn a lot from studying Miriam’s leadership. She did some incredible things in her life, but got into trouble when she began criticizing her leader (Moses) thinking she deserved the job God had given him. God gives aggressive leaders very clear feedback when we overstep. It’s not always easy to hear, but it is designed to lead us to repentance and restoration of our Leadership Voice, just like He did for Miriam.
The most harmful pattern is someone who gets caught in the trap of swinging between the two extremes – sometimes passive and other times aggressive. This is called “passive-aggressive” and makes a leader unpredictable and hard for others to trust. It’s what Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:14 when he describes immature believers as being “tossed back and forth by the waves.” The key to combat passive-aggressive styles is to focus on building our spiritual foundation through Identity in Christ studies and discipleship. Once we know who we are in Christ, we can begin to learn how He wants us to serve Him with stability and strength.
Instead of any of these unhealthy expressions, God calls us each to have a strong, healthy, and ASSERTIVE Leadership Voice that combines the best parts of being passive (humility) and the best parts of being aggressive (boldness). Jesus is our perfect example of humble boldness – not overstepping and yet never holding back to what the Father had called him to say or do.
Take some time to reflect on the following questions. Or, better yet, gather a group of fellow female leaders and talk through them together. Ask how you can support and pray for each other as you grow your Leadership Voice into the healthy, Godly, and powerful impact you are designed to have!
- Do you tend to be more passive or aggressive in your natural wiring? Where do you think this comes from?
- Share about a time when God challenged you to be more assertive in your Leadership Voice. What or who was helpful for you?
- Do you need more encouragement or more feedback to grow your Godly assertiveness?
- Think of someone you lead. Where do they tend to fall on the spectrum? What can you do to help them become more assertive?
- What is one step you can take this week to grow your Leadership Voice? How can this group, or someone else, hold you accountable and celebrate with you when you’ve done it?
If you would like to know more about how to grow your Godly assertiveness, download my free Assertiveness Cheat Sheet. And if you want to learn what else goes into a strong and healthy Leadership Voice, pick up a copy of my latest book, Find Your Leadership Voice in 90 Days, or check out my other resources including a video small group curriculum for female leaders at FindYourLeadershipVoice.me
I’m cheering you on!
Kadi Cole is a corporate leadership development expert and sought-after speaker, coach, and consultant. Her previous book, Developing Female Leaders, has been a bestseller among church leaders. Kadi holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Development and has spent the last 30 years serving in various leadership roles including University Dean and Executive Director at one of America’s largest and fastest growing multisite churches. You can find her on social media @kadicole, hiking the mountains in her home state of Montana, or enjoying the dog beach with her family in South Florida. Learn more at KadiCole.com.
Author, Kadi Cole