Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
Eric Geiger serves as a Senior Vice President at Lifeway Christian Resources, leading the Resources Division. In his responsibilities, he leads a management team that includes both men and women. He understands the role women play in leadership. Recently, he answered a few questions about the value of women on his team and why women should be invited to the leadership table. Here are a few of his thoughts.
Why is it important to include women in the leadership circle?
At Lifeway I lead in a Christian environment, meaning among a group of people who believe in the body of Christ, who believe that men and women who have been brought into a relationship with Christ are brothers and sisters in the Lord. So including women in the leadership circle means including our sisters. To not include them would be to exclude an important part of the body of Christ.
What are some practical ways women add value to the leadership table? How have you seen women bring uniqueness to the leadership table?
Several of my direct reports are women, and they bring unique perspective, experience, and skill to the team. And also to me personally, the women on our team have made me a better a leader. Though women bring much more than their relational skills to the team, I am not the first to note that female leaders can excel relationally. Which is no small matter as leadership is about people, about influencing them, and moving them in a shared direction. So I listen closely to the women on our team. Because we are in this for people, their wisdom and sense for our culture is invaluable.
As a dad of two daughters, how are you encouraging them in leadership?
I love being a dad to daughters and would not trade them for any sons in the world. I am really grateful to have two girls because I get to see how the Lord has made each one very unique and gifted them differently. One daughter is introverted, thoughtful, loyal, and driven by her convictions. The other is extroverted, sensitive, and driven to love people well. So while my encouragement varies from daughter to daughter, I try to focus on their character and also encouraging them for attributes they can continue to develop – hard work, perseverance, compassion for others, etc.
If you could tell a woman what “not” to do in regards to leadership, what advice would you give?
This is a hard one because I am not a woman so often when guys answer this question, we can come off as out of touch or insensitive. But I will take a risk and answer and will do so with a paradox. First, just as the apostle Paul told Timothy to not let others look down on him because he was young, I would say to a woman leader, “don’t let anyone look down on you because you are a woman.” You have a ton to offer. Paul told Timothy to set the example in issues of character (speech, conduct, faith, love, purity), so set the example in attributes of godliness. Second, while I encourage you to not let someone look down on you, don’t be the woman leader who is always complaining that people are looking down on you. The women on my team are strong and they never have to say, “don’t look down on me because I am a woman.” If they did, it would sound like the leader who says, “Listen to me because I am the leader.” If you have to say you are the leader, you are not. Not really. So lead with the agenda of the mission of the organization not with the agenda of proving you are woman leader.
What advice would you give men if they are struggling with including women in their leadership–especially in ministry?
If you don’t find ways to include women, you are devaluing half the body of Christ. Find ways to leverage the gifting of women and your team will be stronger.
Are you ready to lead well? Get training at events like YOU Lead around the country!
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in- law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.