“Where I see women in leadership either pull back, step down, or burn out, is when they don’t have peers and mentors.”
Ed: As a leader who has served large churches and other organizations, what are the differences and similarities particular to women leaders at higher levels? Do you think there is a different kind of mindset that you take with you as a woman in high levels of leadership?
Jenni: One of the dynamics we as women have to navigate in those seats is that we are often the only one at the table. There’s a lot that could be racing through one’s mind being that isolated.
However, I’ve seen those instances as a privilege. I’ve always looked at those opportunities as an honor. Therefore, I’ve sought to seize those opportunities as a means by which I could create a great experience where men and women can work and serve together with the hopes of paving a healthier environment for more diversity in leadership.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can be a lonely seat. Many time, I’ve asked men in leadership how it would make them feel if the script was reversed and they were the only male sitting at the table surrounded by women. Armed with that thought, I challenge them to be sensitive to women who might be in that position.
Nevertheless, women need to embrace the feeling of being an outlier. But in doing so, I’ve encouraged women leaders to find a circle of women who are in similar leadership positions who can be a safe community of support and encouragement.
To be honest, I believe that support mechanism is essential. Where I see women in leadership either pull back, step down, or burn out, is when they don’t have peers and mentors.
Ed: For men, how can we help more to empower and release women leaders?
Jenni: First, just that question alone is empowering and releasing! I’m really …