Some years ago I was a junior solicitor attending the Family Court with a woman and her children. We spent many hours waiting for the matter to be heard. I have memories of simply listening and talking to this woman – I did not do anything momentous. I just waited the long hours with her. About a week later I received a single rose from this lady and an outpouring of her gratitude for me being there, supporting her at a difficult time in her life. I was surprised and humbled by her gratitude. In hindsight I recognise that the mere fact that I did what needed to be done on that day in the Family Court was an act of service and, thus, an act of leadership.
Again, recently, leadership existing in the simplest, everyday acts was brought home to me. When I discovered that Janine had had an accident my mind kept going back to what it would be like for her and what she would need. At the very least, I wondered how she would get up her tall front staircase or alternatively up the gravelly hill to her back door. Within 24 hours I arranged for her and her kids to stay with my family for a week upon discharge from hospital. It was a real family collaboration, with my parents, my partner and kids collectively providing accommodation, meals, entertainment and travel. To me it was just what needed to be done at that time in those circumstances – I was being practical. To Janine it was a relief to think these details through. Reflecting further I realise that I and each member of my family gave what we could freely in that time and that that giving was an act of leadership.
I have since thought more deeply about the times when I undertook acts of leadership; the instances that really stand out – that I really feel within myself were acts of leadership – were also the times when I gave freely to others. Leadership is not about power or its trappings. It is about generosity and clarity. Leadership happens to every person, every day in the small, seemingly insignificant acts we do in our daily lives for others. Theorists would describe this as servant style leadership. But I actually believe it is what leadership is at its core foundation. We cannot lead if we cannot serve – it can only exist if we give.
In the 10 days leading up to International Women’s day on 8 March, the Feathersome team is hosting One Hope Two Give at the State Library Queensland. Our team will be in the Knowledge Walk (plaza) outside the Infozone at the State Library on level 1. To find out more about this event, One Hope Two Give and to register for You Me and a Cup of Tea panel event on 8 March visit www.feathersome.com.
The team and I invite you to engage in an act of leadership by writing a message of hope for a woman who is experiencing difficult times. Through your leadership you will build a resource for women who have experienced violence. We look forward to meeting you. Thank you for giving generously.