Being an effective leader: what does that mean? According to Walker, the goal of effective leadership is leading out of who you are and helping enable people to take responsibility. This is some pretty powerful stuff!
In one of my favorite passages from The Undefended Leader, the author shares that it is a moral responsibility and an ethical imperative to know ourselves, not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of our followers. And we must not only to know ourselves but be free from ourselves. It is freedom that is the critical factor: freedom to make decisions and choose courses of action that, in the end, may lead to personal loss rather than personal gain.
As a leader, we are helping vulnerable people find their way by encouraging them to take responsibility in their lives – just as we are taking responsibility in our own life. Often, our followers have become vulnerable through the struggles of life and are seeking the opportunity to become stronger within themselves. When I owned a company, I found that helping people become leaders (sometimes even in their own minds) brought about greater confidence and responsibility within them. I called it “the entrepreneurial spirit versus the employee spirit” mentality, which created a leadership style versus an 8-5 clock-watcher style. My vision was that each of my employees have a ‘responsibility title’ – director of sales, manager of operations, supervisor of office management (even though there may not have been anyone working under them), which helped them think of themselves as “leaders. I found that both their responsibility level increased as well as their productivity level with their new title. It was an amazing experiment – and it worked!
As I segue into the world of human trafficking, I have found that trafficking victims also need to feel empowerment to heal. Helping victims to become leaders of their own domain leads them to change their “title” from victim to survivor. Helping these individuals find independence and empowerment is a daunting task. They are often broken souls who are filled with shame and guilt. Building trust is key towards building a relationship with the victims (as trust is often a missing link because of the abuse of trust they have encountered). Once trust is developed, steps toward healing can begin.
Often, though, victims of the trafficking world do not see themselves as victims. As a coping survival skill, they may develop loyalties to their trafficker, even though their trafficker is also their abuser. So sometimes it means creating a victim mentality within them (to help them understand that they are victims of horrible circumstances) before I can help them to turn that into a survivor mentality. Thank you, God, for always walking with me on this journey, as the delicate balance of a trafficking victim’s future lies within your helping touch – and I am only the human presence of your guidance.
A beautiful saying (from an unknown author) reflects that you should not carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them.
I can do all things through my Christ who strengthens me.
 Simon P Walker, The Undefended Leader (Carlisle: Piquant, 2010).
 Walker, The Undefended Leader, 49.