"Pentecost" (Detail of Mary) by Jean Restout

“Pentecost” (Detail of Mary) by Jean Restout

As women who work, we reflect on our leadership in the workforce. In the work world, we are taught that the leadership equation includes winning, managing, competition, with “me” at the center of it all:  my next promotion; my next acquisition; my next big step.

For women striving to do God’s Holy Will, the work world can be tricky and lonely. As a working Catholic woman, I have been blessed throughout my career to work with amazing women leaders who have shown me that leadership can be counter-cultural, and that we as women have much to teach in terms of effective leadership approaches.

Mary Devlin Capizzi, in Helen Alvare’s book, breaking through:  Catholic Women Speak for Themselves, articulates her perspective succinctly:

“Faith, not my work, is the root that defines my life, and my work reflects and reveals my faith.” (p. 86)

Now, this is a woman that has got the right equation!

This is the exact sentiment that all of the women in my research affirm. Women who lead with faith at the foundation of their work lives reveal much about who they are, and who women leaders are in general!

Women who lead in this way demonstrate the very nature of women’s leadership, eloquently spoken about by the Vatican II fathers:

“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect, and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.” (Closing speeches Vatican Council II, 12/8/65).

Where better to aid humanity in not falling? When you spend 8+ hours per day in the work world, opportunities are unlimited!

We can certainly turn to both Sacred Scripture and Church tradition for our pathways.

I’d like to offer a look at Our Lady, Mother Mary, as a perfect role model for all women, of course, but for women who work in particular.

According to St. Louis de Montfort, Mary has 10 principle virtues, which when practiced help to lead us to her Son. You can find some of these virtues in other women in the Bible, but you can find all 10 in Our Lady. I am going to present 5 that I believe to be super important at work, and help us to increase our confidence in our feminine leadership approaches. When reading through this list, think of your workday, and the everyday, ordinary ways you can practice these in your leadership.

  • Ardent Charity:  How can you demonstrate great love at work? This is not the same love as a spousal love, of course. How do you approach your employees? Your supervisors? Your clients? Your customers? Is your approach focused on valuing a relationship more than a material good? Are you able to articulate information and ideas in a mutually respectful way?
  • Heroic Patience:  Do you really listen at work? Are you able to rise above a situation in order to assist others as they learn new tasks? Do you hold your temper or judgment about your supervisor when you disagree with them? Are you willing in your attitude to seek understanding of others, even when it is difficult?
  • Divine Wisdom:  Recalling your baptism, and especially your confirmation, do you recall and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit in your work decisions? Do you pray for guidance? Do you seek Biblical and Church tradition answers and solutions? Do you show gratitude to God when you recognize divine wisdom at work?
  • Angelic Sweetness:  Is your approach nurturing and relational? Do you avoid calumniation of fellow co-workers and supervisors? Even when difficult, do you respond to others at work by extending grace and mercy?
  • Profound Humility:  Are you focused on others more than yourself? Do you recognize the work of the team, or are you taking credit for the work? Do you care who gets the credit? Does this impact the way you treat others? 

Mary’s virtues bring us to a very feminine leadership style: one steeped in relationship building, not shying away from truth or faith, but approaching others in grace. When practiced at work, these virtues of Our Lady can lead us to Holiness and a fulfilled leadership at work.

Further, when we pray the Rosary, we can reflect on these virtues as we contemplate the Mysteries of Christ. This morning, as I was praying the Glorious Mysteries on the way to work, I was able to reflect on the virtue of Divine Wisdom as I contemplated the Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit. At that moment, I prayed about a decision I had to make at work. I arrived at work, at peace with the decision I had to make. I was able to recall the gifts of the Holy Spirit, seeking wisdom for decisions at work. This everyday example of Mary helps me in my work life, as I journey to Christ each day.

This is the second in a series on The Mary Journey by Mary Wallace.

Related Articles (non-series)

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