Note: In the first post in this three-part series, I wrote about my community’s theme for this year and what it means to show up for ourselves in our own lives. In the second part, I focused on our collective responsibility in showing up. In this month’s post, I’ll share some thoughts on what it means to show up in community as a leader. You can find Part I here and Part II here.
From the Perspective of Leadership Responsibility…
As I’ve explored what it means to show up for community as a leader, I’ve become increasingly appreciative of the many qualities that are vital in order to hold center successfully and to serve with competence and finesse over the long run.
The more I examine the characteristics of showing up in leadership, the longer my list grows and the more it broadens. Since this is a blog post and not a book, I’ve selected a few elements that are currently resonating for me as important in an exceptional leader, knowing there are so many more qualities of equal value that I’m not mentioning today. (And I’m already considering revisiting this topic in the future to dive into those qualities…)
Presence and Passion
First off, a leader must *be there*—physically, mentally, and emotionally—and, ideally, is there with equal amounts of enthusiasm and calm. To truly show up for our communities, we must *literally* be there, in all the ways possible for us to do so in any given moment. In addition to showing up in these ways, a good leader passionately *wants* to be with their spiritual community. (And if we ever find that this is no longer true, it’s time to gracefully step down.)
When I responsibly show up for my leadership, without fail I do what I said I was going to do. I’m there to priestess the rituals and teach the classes I’ve committed to. I’m there to hold center for the gatherings I’ve invited others to join me in. I do not cancel things because I’m “sick” or “I don’t have the energy” or I am afraid (and when I’m feeling sick or low on energy, it’s generally out of a place of unconscious fear). This goes back to self-care as a discipline done daily in service to the greater work.
There’s an inherent trust that comes when we’ve willingly taken on the mantle of leadership. Our spiritual family must know without a doubt—within their very bones and heart—that they can depend on us, that we are consistent, that we are constant and steady, and that we will be there when we say we will be. This includes being prepared on time, beginning on time, and ending on time. After all, our tribe has planned part of their lives around the schedule that we have chosen to set.
Authenticity and Transparency
Together authenticity and transparency cover a lot of ground. To me, this means bringing my whole Self to the altar, each and every time, in all my humanness, flaws and all. This sincerity sometimes requires deep vulnerability, as this level of openness can often feel uncomfortable and exposing in many ways. It necessitates that I “practice what I preach,” i.e., I must be willing to model the behaviors I hope for from my spiritual family.
In Sisterhood of the Moon, all emotions are welcome and invited at our altar, and our tribe members are encouraged to “lean in” when things get rough instead of withdrawing into isolation, disengaging and trying to go it alone without support. To create the feelings of safety that this requires, as High Priestess I must also be willing to lean in, sharing transparently what is happening for me, especially when it would be far easier and more pleasant (in the short term) for me to drop out and hide out.
On a practical level as a leader, I must be unflinchingly honest about where I am at and what my capacity is. There are so many things our community would like to do and many fantastic suggestions are constantly offered. I need to be realistic about what more our growing community can successfully add to our already robust schedule, and even more sensible and conscious about what I can personally accommodate. If I—and our other leaders—are at capacity, we need to—and do—put those excellent ideas into the cauldron for later.
Boundaries and Ethics
Exceptional leaders remain continually aware of the boundaries and Agreements of the community, as well as constantly practice both shared and individual ethics in addition to any personal vows that have been taken or commitments that have been made. When community leaders show up for their shared ethics together, not only can the community trust that there is a secure structure in place with everyone’s best interests at the center, but the leaders themselves can trust in one another and the container that has been (and is being) co-created.
At first glance, showing up whilst simultaneously holding boundaries may seem paradoxical, yet it is not. When I take responsibility for making sure the community is observing the boundaries that all are aware of and have agreed to, I am showing up by holding the safety of our container as a primary concern. This includes bringing mindfulness to our relationships within the container in addition to the vibrations and special magick that happens within its vortex.
I also show up for our Leadership Code of Ethical Conduct. I do my human best to be aware—and take ownership—of what is mine. As part of this Code, I know I am fully accountable—to myself, to my co-Priestesses, and to those others who depend upon me to be there, confident that I’m holding the container in unyielding safety for them to do the deep work they’ve come to do. It is part of my trust and my service to be responsible for myself above all in order to preserve the integrity and safety for everyone in our tribe.
I’ll conclude with an extremely shallow dip into a vast topic that’s more than worthy enough for its own post (and most likely will be in the future). Exceptional leadership is always rooted in service, in a desire to help others help themselves.
Leaders should be not the lackeys of those they are in service to, nor should they participate in co-dependent, mothering types of exchanges with their spiritual family. Service is not about over-giving or burning out or martyring oneself. True service is about empowering others to care for themselves, to be aware of their own needs, to hold a space of deep listening, and to steward a safe place for authenticity, exploration, and growth. Excellent leaders are Midwives, not the ones experiencing the birth process. It takes courage to step back and maintain an attitude of “I want what is best for you” whilst also holding the vision of what is best for the community as a whole.
It is my intention to remember at all times that I am here in service to Goddess and for the highest good of my community. Being an excellent leader is not about feeding the ego or a desire for fame and fortune and “Big Name Pagandom”. Skillfulness in leadership calls for patience, including knowing when to sit back, observe, and to hold intentional, sacred silence.
Having narrowed my scope so significantly for this post, I’m anticipating digging deeper at a later time. Please share your thoughts! What are the leadership qualities *you* find most important?