Answering The Call of Being Born to Lead

by Alisha Stamper

I have known from a young age, and had it reaffirmed to me, that being an advocate for change, a leader, in any place where I have influence, is something I am supposed to do in my life. When I heard that Sheri Dew would be presenting on the idea of being BORN to lead, all of us, but specifically women, I was excited to hear her insight.

On March 18, 2015, The Utah Women & Leadership Project, partnered with the UVU Women’s pinterest quoteSuccess Center, the Women’s Leadership Institute and other organizations provided our Utah community with an evening with Sheri Dew. Her remarks were entitled “You Were Born To Lead.” She gave seven distinct points about leadership in our varied spheres. As Elaine Dalton said in her introduction, “We are not ordinary women and this is not an ordinary time.” Susan Madsen, Project Director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project, echoed this idea, saying, “We don’t have the luxury of thinking only some women should or can be leaders. We all must be.” Having been personally drawn to leadership roles within various community organizations, I can attest to the wise counsel that Dew gives about leadership and being effective. I have made the mistakes she cautions against.

Here are her points with some additional notes:

  1. Your leadership is not about you. Its about elevating others, not yourself. Leaders who help the most people help the most people.
  2. Leadership is dependent upon trust. Interrupters of trust—Dishonesty, Self-absorption, Arrogance.
  3. Experience is the best teacher. Our experiences shape our beliefs, which shape our actions, which shape our results.
  4. The best leaders are perpetual learners. Inspired learners learn from the mistakes and experiences of others. Seek out those smarter than you. Ask good questions and seek out real answers. If you don’t listen, the best you can do is only on you: Your greatest limitations are YOUR limitations. Leadership always exposes weakness. You need to know where your knowledge gaps are. If you think you know, but do not, and act on it, the effect of your mistake makes it dangerous for you to be in charge.
  5. The best leaders are courageous and leadership is demanding. It requires courage. Valuing everyone in your organization is what enables trust and allows your courage to continue.
  6. It is easier to motivate people to do something difficult than to do something easy. We all WANT to progress. There is nothing inspiring about the status quo. No one is happy living beneath her potential.
  7. Inspired leadership endures. The greatest leaders are devoted to a cause greater than themselves.

Sometimes in our church culture we get the impression that we are not meant to be guides or leaders outside of our homes and specific church callings. This is not true. President David O. McKay taught:

 …Other than purely domestic engagements may and indeed must occupy her attention. She must attend church and contribute to the charm of social entertainments. She must be interested in local philanthropic reform. She must pursue courses of reading and research. She may use pen and brush or chisel in the worlds of literature and art. She must examine, according to her endorsement, opportunity, and responsibility, political, social and scientific questions, and according to her ability render service in all. But she must feel that in passing from any one or all of these she ascends when she enters or resumes the domestic life.”

General Relief Society Conference, October 1953 (emphasis added)

What have your experiences with leadership been on small and large scales? What misconceptions have you heard or come across about women pursuing leadership roles? Let us know in the comments.

Alisha Stamper is a passionate advocate for women’s equity and happiness. She is a community advocate and leader. To learn more about her and her art, visit www.alishastamper.com

5 Comments on “Answering The Call of Being Born to Lead

  1. I started out as a mother of a Head Start child and served on committees which raised me to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors over the agency supporting Head Start in that large area.
    The preparation for this was to be a child in a very small branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At 12 I was teaching Jr. Sunday School. My class was my brothers and sister. I am very aware that I learned much more than they. Our branch consisted of my family, the Branch President and his wife, and two older sisters and the non-member husband of one of these sisters. I also was leading the music from age 8.
    It was quite a way to grow up in the Gospel. Only one other child attended, my one brother’s best friend, and he became and still is “My Other Brother.” I have since served in Primary, Relief Society, in the Family History Center and in the Material Center in the various wards and branches where I have lived.
    Outside of church service and my Head Start service, I have served on the Public library Board of Directors here where I live now and have served thru hiring the last three librarians here over the span of about twenty years and I am now an active library volunteer.

  2. I enjoyed Sister Dew’s ideas on leadership. In my observation, her comments, as well as the description of effective leaders everywhere, regardless of gender, are the same regardless of gender. Those who have the wrong idea or belief of what leadership is use it as a tool for their personal advantage, rather than for the betterment and fulfillment of the mission of the organization, and of its people. The power of the organization lies within its people, and the leader’s stewardship is to magnify this power, which cannot be done if their intent is self-serving. Servant Leader comes to mind, as a job description. Another is “mechanic”. Imagine the skill, great effort, resourcefulness, energy, skill, and total commitment of the high stakes race car mechanic, as prepares, repairs, services, and otherwise insures victory by keeping his car performing at the highest level possible. A leader does the same with his team, giving his all, not to elevate himself, but to ensure his team is mentally, emotionally, financially, and morally headed for the winner’s circle.

  3. Pingback: Let’s Hear It for the (Mission Presidents’) Wives! | Aspiring Mormon Women

  4. I want to use Sister Dew’s comments on leadership for me and my High Priest Quorum.

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