Pursuing Partnership Part 4b: Brother to Brother – An Invitation to Evaluation

By David M. (David is the founder of the RAP Network, a Latin American ministry focused on informing, equipping and empowering the Latin church to reach the Pashtun people.)

This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.

Part 4b: Brother to Brother – An Invitation to Evaluation

“Email: Leadership 360 Eval Results.”

Have you ever been nervous to open up a notification on your phone? When I saw this one, I was. I know many of you will wonder whether an evaluation is a good practice, so let’s get this out of the way. I don’t fear or follow the opinions of man (or woman). I tell each one of my teammates that they are a valuable member of the team, and I do value their input, but, in contrast to God’s, it has microscopic weight.

Still, inviting your team to evaluate different areas of your leadership and organizational culture and health can be nerve-racking. Maybe not because you yearn to be liked (which let’s be honest, we all do), but because you know you may find some things that may be less than palatable and you’ll have to go to a gentle but honest Father who loves you too much to allow you to be stagnant in your growth and ask him: “What do you want me to know?” This article, as a follow-up to my previous one, focuses on the answer God gave me to that question in the context of creating a safe and thriving space for female leadership within our ministry.

But before we dive into the lessons learned, I’d invite you to look at my process. This was very simple to do, and I’d encourage you to do something similar in your organization. As part of a larger questionnaire (tailored to measure the specific values in our organization), we added the following three questions for women in leadership roles in our organization to answer:

1. As a woman in our leadership team, how do you experience [your boss] as a support to your success?

  1. I feel fully supported in every way I need
  2. I think his heart is to support me, but he doesn’t really understand what I deal with as a woman leader.
  3. I don’t get the sense that he has much interest in actively supporting me.
  4. I’ve not really thought about it.

 2. As a women who would hope to find a path into leadership in our organization:

  1. I know I am just as welcome and actively sought after as a gifted man
  2. Our org talks about seeking women for leadership roles, but men are preferred
  3. I don’t see my boss actively developing the leadership gifts of women
  4. Women are discouraged from thinking about themselves as leaders.

3. As a woman leader, some ways support from my boss could improve are: (select all that apply)

  1. Regularly asking for my opinions about our ministry in ways that I feel heard and taken seriously
  2. Talking with other male leaders about the need to support and seek women leaders
  3. Talking with my other male colleagues about their attitudes toward women
  4. Providing opportunities for mentoring and skill development in ways that would help me grow.

These questions had been developed by an external party to our organization whose focus is developing pathways for women in leadership. The questionnaire itself was given only to those leaders that reported directly to me and was entirely anonymous. Out of the 10 people that received this form, seven were women and five chose to answer this section. Once I looked over the responses from the 5 who responded, I was encouraged. Still, I wondered why the other 2 did not participate. I may offer these same questions again the next time we do the 360 and see how it compares to this first time.  Below I’ve registered their responses:

1. As a woman in our leadership team, how do you experience [your boss] as a support to your success?

  • 4 women (80%) – I feel fully supported in every way I need
  • 1 woman (20%)- I think his heart is to support me, but he doesn’t really understand what I deal with as a woman leader.

 2. As a women who would hope to find a path into leadership in our organization:

  • 5 women (100%) – I know I am just as welcome and actively sought after as a gifted man

3. As a woman leader, some ways support from my boss could improve are:

  • 3 women (60%) – Talking with other male leaders about the need to support and seek women leaders
  • 3 women (60%) – Providing opportunities for mentoring and skill development in ways that would help me grow.

The results of Q2 alone show that the environment we’ve desired to create is the experience of these women in our leadership team. But the results of the other two questions, while positive, helped me obtain far more insight.

On Q1, one of our leaders expressed that while she considers my intentions to be genuine, she doesn’t feel I can fully relate to her circumstances. I ended up going with these results back to my team to have a conversation. I owned up to them that, as a man, I recognized I wasn’t able to fully relate with women in leadership roles and probably never will; and, can you imagine? Not one of them was surprised. That’s the thing about our weaknesses though, isn’t it? Everyone else in our team is aware of them generally before we are.

Q3 was geared towards finding out what are some things I can do to improve. The two answers that weren’t selected support the conclusion that women in this sector of our organization feel heard and respected by me and their colleagues; this makes sense based on the results of Q2. But they did express a desire for a champion that would advocate for female leadership with other men in missions’ organizations. Their exhortation is partially why I’m writing this article. They also responded that they are hungry for more opportunities for growth in their leadership roles. I believe this speaks to their drive and teachability – great qualities that I highly value in a leader.

Through this simple process I’ve been able to celebrate where we are in our organizational culture as well as identify clear steps we can take to further improve. What I think stands out to me more than anything else in this process is how incredibly simple it was to do. Even as I write this article explaining our process, it seems altogether mundane. There’s no paradigm-shifting click-bait component that makes these words a MUST-READ. But I think that’s part of the issue.

In our culture, we value the complex, creative, complicated and expensive processes where, sometimes, slowing down enough to simply ask those around us if they feel like they’re being valued and celebrated as members of the team would be an eye-opening experience

I don’t think that women-in-leadership is a flashy fad. It’s not the latest tool, tactic, strategy or whatever other buzz word you’d like to throw in here. But it’s a foundationally important topic for missions to thrive (see Part 1). The process is simple, but the boldness to pause, and ask the difficult questions may not be easy if we’re afraid to find out the results. So I’ll leave you with this final thought: Your weaknesses in this area, whatever they may be, are obvious to all the women in your organization already. You’re not doing yourself any favors by not approaching them to ask if there are any blind-spots in your culture’s treatment of women in leadership. And it sure won’t make you any less in their eyes!  If anything, it’s a simple and yet monumental step in the right direction.


This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track.  Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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