As someone stepping into the CEO role for a nonprofit organization for the first time, it has been quite the developmental journey to embrace a leadership style that works for the creative and collaborative culture of the Children’s Creativity Museum. My understandings of who I am and who I need to be as a leader for the organization have evolved over the fast-paced and packed year that I’ve officially held the role.
A recent realization that is providing me a lot of peace of mind is that I don’t actually have to choose one particular leadership style. Sure, my staff wants consistency, AND adaptive leadership requires that we have an array of leadership styles into which we can tap in order to respond to a changing world. I can be authoritative and make solid decisions, AND I can be collaborative in thinking through a project. I can feel like I’m alone at the top, AND I can consciously connect with my support network.
It’s like shifting gears. When I am going uphill, I can kick it up a notch. And when I’m on the highway, I can cruise.
The choice in leadership style, then, becomes not about who I need to be forever-and-ever-amen, but rather what is required of me in a given situation.
We live in a world of appearances. As much as we might hate to admit it, it is all too easy to put up facades in order avoid shame and hide where we feel we are insufficient and lacking. We’re not young / rich / smart /popular / thin enough, etc. We fall short of our own high expectations and/or that of those whose love we crave.
As I work to create for myself my own brand of authentic leadership, one of the facades I am working to tear down is the fear of saying “I don’t know.” Admitting that I don’t know touches a sense of insecurity and self-doubt that I would rather not explore.
Yet, “I don’t know…” is the preamble to a more courageous declaration:
“I don’t know right now, and I am open and available to Life’s Wisdom.”
This is an act of humility that invites a greater Wisdom to come forth. It is not a commentary on a perpetual state of ignorance, but rather acknowledgment of the changing nature of Life and that Wisdom is available to us once we makes ourselves available to it.