My mom is a very strong leader and a strong personality. She’s amazing. She ran the praise team at our church; played piano; organized the kids music — I mean, she did a lot. But I vividly remember that, whenever she had to get up and give an announcement about the praise team practice, or something for Awana…something strange would happen.
My mom is a loud woman, like me: she talks with her hands, has a big smile, possesses a loud voice…you can hear her laugh across the room. She would get up with the microphone, and softly croon in an overly-sweet tone, “It’s so good to be here this morning. And I’m so glad to talk to you.”
This different person was happening up there! She was camouflaging. Camouflaging is a phenomenon that happens when a woman senses that her environment calls for “good women” to display certain traits and actions. She adapts by hiding her true self, and exhibiting the behaviors, attitudes, and actions she believes are required by her surroundings.
You see, women in my childhood church’s culture were soft-spoken; they were humble; they never were loud or brash; they were quiet, gentle spirits. Now, don’t get me wrong: I want a quiet, gentle spirit on the inside. But I want to be all my personality on the outside!
So why do I tell this story? To let you know that, when your female leaders come into your organization — especially if it’s a church — it’s in your best interest to invite them to fully be who they are. If you communicate that they are welcome — all of them — you’ll be stunned at the level of competence, responsibility, skill, talent, and joy they bring to your team.
It’s a shame to see a female leader pretend to be someone she’s not. Invite her to be her true self, and her authenticity will bless everyone around her, as well.