My seminary experience did not include a class on leadership, and honestly, I have no memory of even one class discussion about leadership styles or leadership strengths or leadership anything. When I stepped into the role of executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry eight years ago, one of the things I brought to the organization was that knew what I didn’t know, and what I didn’t know was leadership. So I bought leadership books. I read leadership articles. But mostly, I observed. I picked out a handful of strong, successful leaders, and I started paying close attention to how they spent their time, how they related to donors and staff members, and how they used their voice to promote their cause. I learned leadership by watching successful leaders.
One other thing I brought to BWIM was a strong sense of curiosity and well, nosiness. All my life I have loved hearing people tell their stories, and I have always felt free to ask people about their experiences, their passions, their history. So in my first months at BWIM, while I was busy observing, I was also busy asking questions. I sat with some of my hero-leaders, and I asked them: How do you decide what the most important thing is? How do you craft a vision for your organization? How do you run a successful meeting? How do you cultivate consistent donors? How do you prioritize your time? How do you keep track of all the people you meet? How do you built a good support team around you? I learned leadership by being inquisitive, fearlessly asking questions of successful leaders.
Late last year as I contemplated the BWIM blog and a direction for our 2018 posts, I had a moment of inspiration. What would be more educational, more informational, more encouraging, and more fun than interviewing some of my hero-leaders? And thus was born “Learning Leadership,” our newest feature on the blog. One Wednesday of every month, we will post an interview with some of my favorite leaders–and once again, I will be asking nosy questions, but this time you get to listen in on the conversation.
Consider this your official invitation — to learn leadership from some of the strongest, wisest, most insightful leaders among us! Be watching for our first interview, which will be posted next Wednesday, January 17!
Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.