Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are suddenly being placed in a leadership role that you didn’t expect? Or maybe you’ve recognized your leadership later in life and you feel unprepared for it. Has God asked you to step into a position that you feel unqualified for?

What to do when you feel surprised by or unqualified for leadership

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In episode 68, I went through the 5 stages of confident leadership. But for some of you, you might not struggle with the confidence part at all. You might be completely confident in God’s love for you, in who He made you to be, and what your gifts and strengths are.

But you might have found yourself in a situation you feel surprised by or unqualified for leadership. You might not have ever considered yourself a leader before, but now you’re in this role and you’re navigating it and trying to figure out how to fulfill the expectations successfully.

So how do you do this? What are some tips to help you accept your leadership role, even when you’re surprised by it or you feel unqualified for it?

In this episode, I’m sharing 3 things you can do to help you step into a leadership role you did not expect or anticipate. Plus I’m giving you some very practical actions you can take in order to move forward in your leadership.

1. Remember that God has brought you to this place. 

If you are not feeling qualified for your role, or if you feel surprised by it, it’s vital to remember that God has brought you to this position or this place.

You might be in a room with people that seem like they have it figured out and you’re just winging it… but God has put you there.

You may believe that you are not the right fit for the task or role, but that is not the case. I love what Jenni Catron shared back in episode 11. She said this:

“You are there. You have been invited. Your gifts have made a way for you. God has opened the door – he has given you this place of influence. It is your job to steward it.” -Jenni Catron

I believe this comes back to trusting God and his sovereignty. God often puts us into places and roles that we do not feel qualified for or ready for so that we learn to trust and rely on His strength.

We can also look at scripture for examples of how often various people likely felt surprised and/or unqualified for leadership:

  • Moses had killed a man and had a stutter, yet God called him to lead his people out of Egypt. He argued with God about whether he was cut out to do what God was asking Him to do.
  • David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and his own father didn’t even think to present him to Samuel for consideration. Yet he was the one anointed to be king.
  • Esther was an orphan who probably never dreamed of being queen.
  • Mary was a young, unmarried girl who was asked to bring the Messiah into the world.
  • Paul had persecuted Christians prior to his conversion, and then God asked him to be a missionary to many areas. And he himself ended up enduring great suffering. 

All of these people are, on the outside, not who we as humans would pick to fill the roles that they ended up filling. But God knew what was needed and He chose them.

You might not be asked to be a king or queen (that’s probably unlikely) and you may not be required to lead thousands, but remember that God has placed you in the role you are for a reason.

2. Find a mentor

My next recommendation for you when you find yourself surprised by or unqualified for leadership is to find a mentor. A mentor does not have to be someone in your local community or even in the exact type of role or job that you have been given (though that’s always nice). 

It’s possible, if you are in a workplace setting, that you may have formal mentoring available to you. But if that’s not an option, you may need to invest in mentoring if there’s something specific you are looking to learn or skills you want to develop.

Another option is informal mentoring–following someone from afar, reading or listening to their books or podcasts, or joining a group or program that they offer. 

Tips for finding a mentor:

  • Look for a mentor whose overall life you admire. 
  • Seek out a mentor who has leadership skills that you want to develop.
  • Look for a mentor whose faith is mature and in alignment with yours.
  • Recognize that mentoring relationships can come and go.

For more thoughts on mentoring, I recommend checking out episode 19 with Elisa Pulliam.

3. Develop your leadership skills

Once you recognize that God has placed you in a leadership role, it’s important to be intentional about developing as a leader. This can be very different from person to person based on your role, your strengths and weaknesses, and your personality.

I’m a big believer in honestly assessing where you currently stand in terms of your leadership stage as well as your strengths, so I’ll start with a few recommendations with ways to get started.

Take the Confident Leader Stages quiz

I discussed this in episode 68 and I walked through what the 5 stages look like. You can take the quiz and get some suggestions for ways to take your next steps in leadership.

Take the strengths finder assessment

This will give you a good understanding of your top 5 strengths. I find this tool helpful in being able to make decisions about ways I can best serve others in my leadership roles. 

You can buy the book and get the access code with it – but make sure the book is new.

Also, there are some coaches who specialize in Strengths Finder, and Jenni Schubring from episode 9 is one of them. If you want to learn more about this tool, head to that episode to take a listen.

Ask for feedback

Holly and I have discussed feedback on previous episodes, but it’s so important! You could ask for feedback from people who you are currently leading and/or in a close relationship with. 

It helps to ask specific questions you want feedback on. Specifically, we are looking for areas for improvement when it comes to your leadership skills and abilities.

You may also want to consider taking feedback anonymously as it will allow people to be more honest. Brian Dixon talks about this in his book Start with Your People. 

Determine what leadership skills you want to develop

Find out what kind of leadership skills you will need for the role you are fulfilling. There may or may not be a job description or something else that guides you in this area. If you don’t have that, you may want to check out episode 2 where Holly and I discuss what we believe leadership is and is not.

Here is the list of 14 things you need as a leader that we discussed in episode 2:

  1. Doing things that other people won’t do and showing up when others don’t.
  2. Serving those you lead.
  3. Listening.
  4. Identifying the needs of those you lead and finding ways to meet them.
  5. Earning the right to speak into others’ lives.
  6. Seeing potential in others, even when they don’t see it in themselves.
  7. Communicating a vision for the future.
  8. Bringing clarity.
  9. A commitment to personal growth and a dedication to continually move forward.
  10. Celebrating wins (speaking positively about the team to others-“bragging up their skills”)
  11. Responsibility for outcomes.
  12. Challenging the status quo.
  13. As Christians, a big part of leadership is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
  14. Following the example of Christ and being led by him as you lead others.

Listen to episode 2 and jot down 2-3 areas where you feel you’d like to improve. The areas where I’d like to improve are: seeing potential in others, celebrating wins, and communicating a vision. 

Invest in professional or personal development in order to grow in the skills you need

There are many ways you can invest in developing the skills you need. And again, depending on your work situation, some of this may be covered by your company or church.

However, for many of us, professional and personal development comes out of our own pocket. But I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

Here are a few options for developing your leadership skills:

Books

There are so many amazing books on leadership principles and skills that you can read and start putting into practice. 

A couple of recommendations I have for you:

You can rent these books from the library, borrow them from a friend, or purchase for yourself.

Podcasts

Of course listening to podcasts can be a great way to get in professional or personal development. I’m in favor of listening to podcasts related to what you want to learn. For example, if you want to get better at leading teams, you might look for podcasts or podcast episodes that address that particular skill.

Courses or memberships

There are online courses for all kinds of things, from time management to communication and more. You could also join a membership that would help you be connected to other women who are in a similar role/situation as you and that offers additional training or support. 

For example, within the Confident Leader Club, we provide a library of trainings to help you develop as a leader but you also get a chance to connect with like-minded Christian women. 

Plus you get access to my Confident Leader Path which helps you understand the 3 aspects of being a confident leader. You will deepen your faith and be able to move along in your confident leadership journey.

Learn more and get on the waitlist for the Confident Leader Club here.

Masterminds or networks

Another option is to join a mastermind or network related to the skills you want to develop or the people you’d like to connect with. 

Attend events

Attending events is another great way to grow as a leader. You may be looking for events related to the specific skills you want to develop or you may look for events in your particular industry.

Events are also a great way to connect with people who are dealing with similar challenges as you are and often these can develop into lifelong relationships.

Group coaching or 1:1 coaching

Another way to develop your skills is to invest in coaching. Coaching often comes in either a group format or a 1:1 format. 

A final word of encouragement

I hope this discussion has been helpful for you, especially if you are feeling inadequate or unprepared for your leadership role. I think that no matter what, we have all been there at some point. And what I want you to remember is that your leadership matters. 

Your voice, your gifts, what God has put inside of you to offer the world… it matters, and we need it.

So friend, do not shrink back or decline this calling or role God has given you. Step into it. 

What to do when you are surprised by or feel unqualified for leadership

Remember God has placed you where you are for a reason. Find a mentor. And then develop your leadership skills.

 

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What to do when you feel unqualified for leadership