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Embracing Leadership: Insights from Karen King on Women's Leadership and Personal Growth

By: Lisa Lazard and Reed Ellis 

Active Members 

In our bustling community and amid the array of roles women undertake, leadership is a ubiquitous presence, often unnoticed yet profoundly impactful.  

We recently had the privilege to sit down with Karen King, a distinguished Member of Junior League of Lafayette, to delve into her journey as a leader and glean insights into the essence of leadership that permeates our everyday lives. 

King, a dedicated Sustainer, embodies the spirit of service. She spoke passionately about the joy she finds in being a Member attributing it to her innate inclination towards service.  

We All Lead 

Regardless of their official title or position, everyone exercises leadership in some capacity. We all lead in our individual lives. 

That idea really stood out when we asked the question: What would you say to a woman who does not consider herself a leader and has no interest in leadership? 

“We are all leaders. There are levels to leadership,” King said.  “Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader, you lead, whether you lead your household, your children, your pet, or just yourself.  We all lead in some capacity every day.” 

Within the League, Members should come to General Membership Meetings prepared, read reports and documents in advance, and follow through with their committee obligations. Outside the League, Members can lead their workplace by organizing donation drives or professional development sessions, lead their household through volunteering, or lead their book club to try a new genre.  

We should not be hesitant to immerse ourselves fully and leverage resources, like the AJLI website, and opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills.  

We all have a responsibility to not only know what is going on in the world around us, but to actively question and influence our community members and leaders. 

Counteracting Self-Doubt 

King identified one of the primary hurdles we all face – the tendency among women to talk themselves out of opportunities due to a lack of confidence. It's a sentiment echoed by many, driven by the fear of rejection or disappointment.  

Yet, she emphasized the importance of overcoming this self-doubt, highlighting that leadership begins with leading oneself - being prepared, asking questions, and holding oneself accountable.  

It is natural to be complacent, but we must continue to push our own boundaries and understanding to grow if we want to truly be leaders in our everyday lives. 

“I would encourage women to expand and grow their leadership in whatever capacity they currently lead.  The beautiful thing about leadership is that learning never ends,” King said.  “You can also expand your leadership abilities, one book, TED talk, presentation, or one conversation at a time.” 

In our discussion we also reflected on King's speech at a recent General Membership Meeting where she gave 11 ways to tap into your power – ways to counteract that self-doubt.  

We asked her which one resonated with her personally; Getting out of her head and out of her own way is what resonated the most.   

“Too many times, I will talk myself out of moving forward on something, by focusing on the obstacles or my perceived shortcomings, instead of the possibilities,” she said. “I try to be more intentional about taking action and being fearless.  You can’t realize your potential, if you don’t take action.” 

Transformative Change 

Reflecting on her own journey, she acknowledged the pivotal role of mentorship and support in her professional and personal development. She attributes her growth as a leader to the guidance of fellow League Members and the diverse connections she has forged within the League. The League has provided her with opportunities to surround herself with so many diverse, forward-thinking and courageous community members. 

We concluded our conversation with a smile when she talked about what she enjoyed most as a Sustainer. 

“I enjoy the opportunity to attend Preferred Shopping and the hot breakfast at T&T!” she said. 

Karen's journey epitomizes the multifaceted nature of leadership. It transcends titles and positions, encompassing a commitment to continuous growth, resilience in the face of challenges, and a willingness to learn from others.  

As we navigate our roles within the League, let us heed Karen's wisdom and embrace our innate capacity for leadership and foster a culture of empowerment and collaboration.  

For, as she aptly puts it, “A lack of courage has consequences, but the courage to lead brings forth transformative change, both within ourselves and in the world around us.” 

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