There is nothing like the power of a woman who leads

When I was a girl, I discovered that I had something unique. I had a powerful voice. In fact, it was so powerful that everyone in our neighborhood knew when I was outside playing.

“You are a lady and it’s time you acted and sounded like one. I can hear your voice over every voice in the neighborhood!” My mother’s words echoed as it was no secret that my volume irritated her.

She wanted me to be a girly girl. You know the dainty, quiet type with delicate manners, and gentle, flowing body movements. The type she could drape in ribbons and lace — the kind who sat and sipped tea from a rose-painted china cup.  I was far from graceful and those china cups were not made for my chubby fingers.

The challenge of being a strong woman

But my biggest challenge was that I loved playing with boys. I preferred the invigorating thrill of battle over giggling about doll clothes. I lived in two worlds: the world of frills and lace and the world of guns and war. I could not contain my fire for battle, so instead of physically joining in the war games, I commanded and assessed the battlefield and shouted orders from the sidelines. And I did this all while wearing a dress!

What I did not understand until much later was that those early years played a crucial part in my beginning to identify my gift as a tactical leader. Later I was caught off guard when life brought me experiences to sharpen this gift. I quickly realized that I needed help to wield this powerful tool.

Initially, I resisted leadership’s call choosing instead to “influence or guide” others. That was a safe choice as it became enough to see my fingerprints on a project’s landscape and development.

But I now know that God was always there, pushing me forward even when I resisted. My biggest fear was rejection, so I allowed others to lead even when He gave me clear instructions to move forward. I wrestled with Him because I wanted to fit in.

Finding leadership’s call through loss

But His plan did not include my fitting in; so, He allowed me to experience the rejection I most feared. I realized that divine intervention touched my life while serving as the first African-American, female law enforcement officer in Chapel Hill, NC. I also experienced joy as I had my first child at age 41 and my second at 43, after doctors told me that I would never conceive.

And as the first born of seven children, He had already placed leadership’s cup in my hands. Finally, I drank.

I’ve since discovered that every woman is called to lead somebody, somewhere to do something great. Most of us are more comfortable with standing on leadership’s sidelines, but the truth is, for us, leadership is as natural as breathing. Women can resist leadership, but we can better our world if we take up its mantle. If you don’t believe me, take a look at almost any aspect of our society. You will see feminine fingerprints.

Learning to lead proudly as women

While working with other women, I discovered six powerful leadership styles which I describe in the book, The Power of a Woman Who Leads. It was interesting to see that once a woman embraced her leadership style, she became more focused and appeared to be more content with not only her life but also herself — whether she was standing at a diaper changing table, on an assembly line, or sitting in a corporate boardroom.

So how do you see yourself? Which type of leader are you?

The Activist Leader has a gift for helping others work and move together toward a common goal. People come first. Her mission statement is, “No people. No mission.”

The Strategic Leader is a born planner. She is thorough and she is the one who will write procedures if none exist. Her mission statement is, “No plan. No mission.”

The Tactical Leader is a born people manager. She encourages and nurtures while pushing her team to victory. Her mission statement is, “No flexibility. No mission.”

The Creative Leader has no problem allowing others to shine. She understands the value of everyone having ownership of the process. Her mission statement is, “No creativity. No mission.”

The Collaborative Leader believes that one should not reinvent the wheel. She has no problem bringing outside resources to the table. Her mission statement is, “No relationship. No mission.”

The Dramatic Leader believes in doing things in a big way. She loves recognition and has no problem taking on the big projects. Her mission statement is, “No glory. No mission.”

Step into the power of being center stage

My sisters, it’s time to step out of the shadows of fear — of aloneness, or being seen as too “masculine” — and stand in the light of centerstage power.

The Power of a Woman Who Leads is my prescription to help you find your God-given greatness and leadership style, as a path not only towards worldly greatness, but also towards a tighter bond with the divine.

I believe that God wants women to lead. If you listen to the small voice inside, you will find the space in your life where your spiritual path is directing you to take a stand based on your vision. If you can listen to it, and follow His directives, soon the world will also discover that there is nothing like the power of a woman who leads!

Gail M. Hayes is an internationally recognized speaker and the author of several books including ‘The Power of a Woman Who Leads,’ ‘One-Minute Success Secrets for Women,’ and ‘Daughters of the King: Finding Victory Through Your God-Given Personal Style.‘ Because of her passion for helping working women, she developed the Handle Your Business Girl Empowerment Network, empowering women who want to make connections with other women.