The following is a guest blog post by Oneya Okuwobi, co-author of The Multi-Ethnic Christian Life Primer. Oneya is one of our 50+ speakers at the Exponential Regionals this fall:
The Look of a Leader
When I was in a program grooming women for senior corporate leadership, one of the sessions focused on what not to wear. A stylist came and critiqued our outfits, then took us shopping for power gear. The most important look, as it turns out, is the black skirt suit. In a knee-length black skirt, a crisp blazer, and a white shirt, you can rule the world. Our suits were designed to be our armor, protecting us from being dismissed or degraded as women. The people who held our careers could only see us as leaders once we looked like leaders.
If we are to be permission giving leaders, however, it cannot be so with us. We cannot afford similar blindness to the gifts around us. In our midst are powerful leaders, ordained by God to expand His kingdom. They will increase our impact and do more than we could alone. They are the heroes who make us hero-makers.
The problem is that all people may not look like leaders to us. You see, sociologists like me have found that people naturally categorize others, and tend to have an archetype of what a leader looks like in their minds. Studies show that people immediately assume organizational leaders are white. Leaders who are women or people of color are more likely to be placed in charge of organizations when they are failing, not thriving. What’s more, we tend to entrust responsibility in leaders who look like us rather than those who do not. Based on this, if we do what comes naturally when we invest in leaders, we might miss the future church planters right in front of us. We can ill afford to leave anyone on the bench when our mission is so urgent.
These tendencies may be natural, but they are not intractable. We can learn to be leaders who multiply leaders across barriers of race, class, and gender. As with all things, this begins with listening to the Spirit of God. The same One who chose David from among his more prominent brothers can direct us to the people after His heart. The second thing that we can do is intentionally strive for a leadership team that reflects our community. This practice will fight against our natural biases, prompt us to speak into every leader around us, and give them permission to succeed. Finally, we can focus on results rather than methods in our organizations. This will allow leaders who do not share our backgrounds or ways of solving problems to shine.
I hope to meet you at the Exponential regional conference in Washington, D.C. There is a great line up of speakers ready to encourage and equip you to be a hero maker. I will share more about how we can become permission giving leaders, even when our natural tendencies are working against us.
I’ll be the one in the black skirt.
Special Invitation from Oneya
Oneya Okuwobi is one of over 50 speakers at the Exponential Regional conferences this fall. Join Oneya and others at the Washington, DC regional conference!
Hero Maker Conferences
Hero Maker is the theme for Exponential 2018. The theme focuses on the shift from being the hero to coming alongside others for them to become the heroes in our church’s unfolding story. At each conference, we will unpack the 5 essential practices for leaders to multiply leaders: multiplication thinking, permission giving, disciple multiplying, gift activating, and kingdom building.
|5 Main Sessions||10+ Speakers||FREE Equipping Labs|
Regional Conference Locations
- Washington, DC: September 10-11
- Southern California: October 2-4
- Bay Area: October 22-23
- Houston: October 24-25
- Chicago: November 6-7
- New York City: December 5-6
To learn more and to register for any of the 2018 Hero Maker conferences, click here.