LeadHER: Managing Emotions- The Secret Weapon of a Woman Leader

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk 

A few years ago, I was serving on a community board that did great work with providing housing for single parent families.  My role was to bring together the faith community, government agencies, and other non-profit leaders to dialogue and create awareness about the hidden plight of homelessness in this prosperous suburb.

The founder, as well as founding board members functioned at a high level of commitment and had sacrificed financially to see the vision flourish.  The founder had great passion, which, when managed, was inspiring to everyone in the organization.  Over time, it became evident that there was a ‘basement’ side to her passion that left an emotional wake behind her when she felt threatened or had to compromise on decisions the board made. 

Emotional intelligence is your ability to:

  • Identify and manage your own emotions;
  • Pick up on the emotions of others and manage them; and
  • In doing so, build trust and grow influence.

Whether you are a woman leading in your home, in your church, in your ministry, in the marketplace, as a social innovation leader, or leader in politics – the responsibility to not only manage but first identify your own emotions rests fully with you.  I have heard from own lips many times in the past, “the problem is…” and then name a colleague, or ministry partner, or friend, or pastor, or…my husband, for being the cause of my negative emotional responses.  I also have put the weight of managing my emotions on the shoulders of others.

Owning my ‘stuff’, is what Jesus taught when he asked the religious leaders poised to stone the woman caught in adultery in John 8:  “which of you is without sin?”

In six words, Jesus shifts the ownership for angry judgment from the woman, to the shoulders of those holding the stones.

We all have stones we are tempted to throw at others to blame for our circumstances. Take the time to ask, ‘what am I feeling’? , and ‘what is an appropriate response that will build trust?’ and then see what others are feeling and how you can appropriately respond to their emotions.

Women are intuitive.  We can use our natural strength of intuition to built trust and increase influence when we own our ‘stuff’.  This is leadership at its best.  And it can be our secret weapon to building relationships between among us, and between women and men.