What Does Leadership Look Like To You?

By Maria Baratta, President, UUCWC Board of Trustees

What does leadership look like to you? Maybe you envision something formal like a group photo of members of the G7 summit looking stern and ready to tackle the world’s economic problems. Or, you think of a tour guide processioning with all their travelers falling in-line like a flock of baby ducks. Perhaps your idea of a leader is an orchestra conductor using their baton to coax beautiful sounds from a group of musicians.

Leadership comes in all forms and fashions in our school, home and work life. Simply deciding what to make for dinner is an act of leadership. Standing up to a bully on the playground shows an amazing level of leadership. Being the first person to raise your hand when someone asks for volunteers is another type of leadership.

Throughout our daily life we choose times to lead and we choose times to follow. Every time we choose to follow someone we are endorsing them as a leader and using followership as a different form of leadership. A great example can be seen in this fun video about a guy dancing at an outdoor concert.

There are so many different ways to lead and to follow. This dance (and it does often feel like a dance) allows people to develop a sense of trust and security. Think of ballroom dancing—partners twirling around a ballroom floor with one person leading and another following. To lead the dance means you have to get your partner safely through the steps; to follow your partner’s lead you have to trust them through each move.

Trust and cooperation are a recurring theme in this TedTalk titled Why good leaders make you feel safe. Every experience I’ve have as a volunteer at UUCWC—from teaching RE, to volunteering for HomeFront, to serving on many different committees, ministries and task forces—has always made me feel like I was in a trusting, cooperative relationship with others and that the work we were doing was to help build a stronger, safer UUCWC community.

At UUCWC, there are so many chances to join in leadership and followership. Every person who participates in a committee, ministry, or task force is saying ‘yes’ to leadership and followership. Their contribution of time and energy helps guide our church in new and exciting ways. Some of the most rewarding forms of leadership are when we do something that we feel passionate about. When you love the work you’re doing or feel a strong commitment to the value of that work, then it isn’t a burden and the satisfaction you feel is its own reward.

If you’ve ever thought about how you envision yourself getting involved in our communal way of leading our congregation, but aren’t sure how to take a first step, you’re not alone. You can take that brave step of speaking to or emailing someone you think is a leader and simply ask them. Just taking that first initial step is a form of leadership.

While the business year for our church starts on July 1, the beginning of September always feels like the beginning of the new church year. I hope everyone can feel the excitement, energy, uncertainty and sense of exploration this new year brings. May we all find ourselves ready to lead and follow in ways that are fulfilling and satisfying.