Three things I learned about being a productive female leader from Melinda Gates' interview

QUESTION FROM AUSTIN, TX: Help! I want to help my organization become better at inviting women leaders to be fully present at the table. 

I’m in the middle of an intentional journey of discovery to bring a new narrative to stewarding women leadership in the church and to elevate the church’s responsibility to be better leaders in our culture. With eyes peeled, heart open and mind curious; I'm getting uncomfortable, being disrupted and learning from unexpected places to do it differently. To be better. To build bridges in the middle of tension. To bring new perspectives to tired debates. 

With that in mind, you can imagine my text stream blowing up during Melinda Gates' interview at the Global Leadership Summit. My friends (shoutout April and Becki) and I had quite a passionate conversation exchange about the things we were watching go down real time with this woman on the church platform. The exposure was huge. The standards were high. Expectations were varied. 

Three things marked me as Melinda (basically the academic, philanthropic Beyoncé) stepped to the plate and hit a home-flipping-run. 

1. When the interview started to creep away from questions about her life’s work and into the love story between her and her famous husband, she gracefully steered it back to the important issues she’s championing. 

Ignore diversions.

2. She would not be silenced when the topic got a little tricky and uncomfortable. She firmly reminded her audience to face reality and addressed the plan to deal with that reality.

Stand up to the cover up. 

3. Her language was steeped in commitment and decisions. With laser focus, she lived for a preferred future with lasting impact, not temporary attributes, shallow stereotypes or popular activity.  

Stay the course.   

Look and learn from the positive deviant leaders who are pushing boundaries for productive behavior change. 

Be strong.

Stay gracious.

Lead well.

And, keep going.

It will catch on.