Becoming Colleagues

photoIt has been a pleasure to read through Carol E. Becker’s book Becoming Colleagues: Women and Men Serving Together in Faith.

In many ways, Becker has already walked down the road I am on right now with my research. Indeed, Becker’s text posits nine distinct criteria that must be present if a mixed-gender team is going to be effective in their work, and satisfying to those on the team.

Sounds like a familiar study!

And Becker breaks her nine criteria into two categories. Five are reflective criteria. For Becker, if a mixed-gender team is going to be effective and satisfying, it must have a regular pattern of pausing and reflecting. Now, stop right there, because this is genius. And unexpected, because I think most of us (and the teams we are on) jump right into active problem-solving. I mean, how many teams have you been on that actually stop and take a pulse of what’s happening in the community?!?

Becker’s five reflective criteria include reflection (yeah, it’s strange that the word governs both a category and a criterion), learning, believing (values matter!), naming (as in, understanding to the extent that you can rightly articulate what’s happening) and including.

And then there are four active criteria. The list includes communicating, working (too broad of a criterion, in my opinion), influencing (how a team manages power) and modeling. In these last sections, Becoming Colleagues is loaded with practical implications and action steps, many of which I will be borrowing from as a part of my own research.

All of that said, I’ll offer you one particular quote that caught my eye, from the introductory section on power. This being a blog about how power works in the Kingdom with regard to gender, it seems apropos to post here:

“To be effective partners, we need to know how to use our power positively and well so that we will be able to influence others toward constructive action. Effective mixed-gender teams do this. Because the ability to influence is the outcome of using power, I call the eighth criterion influencing.

This criterion is particularly important for men, almost always requiring a change in their view of power. The story of many failed mixed-gender teams might be different if the person in the position of power, often a man, viewed his role differently.

For women, the task is different but just as difficult. We women must stop fearing power and learn to welcome our own unique power as an ally. To do this, we have to overcome our tendency to rule out the use of power on the assumption that it’s always abusive. This is a skill we can learn from men, who are not afraid to use power as a leadership tool.

Before either gender can accomplish these tasks, both must understand a great deal more about power. There are many different kinds of power and there is a vast difference between power and the abuse of power.”

Want to read more? Either pick up a copy of Becker’s book…

…or wait 3 more years til I’m done with my research!

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