Let’s talk about leadership for a moment. What does leadership mean to you? Does it have to do with having a big title, like High Priest? Or does it have to do with what you actually do, like facilitate? Or is it really about how you organize things in the group, or “market” it, or what kind of image you put your group together to display to the public?
Truth be told, leadership is about none of those things.
Coven leadership is about people. And, leading a Coven successfully does not depend upon you and you alone. You’ve heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” haven’t you? (I think Hillary Clinton even wrote a book called It Takes A Village, because it really does.) Successful Coven leadership depends upon the leader, for sure, but also on the Coveners (also called Membership).
In other words: you can’t be a leader if you have no followers.
So here’s the thing >> I tend to view Coven leadership in five stages of growth.
At the very bottom, the foundation, you’ve got Title. In other words, in this stage of leadership growth, you’re likely at the very beginning. People who follow you only do so because they have to – mostly because you’re the “default” in the Coven. You are the go-to for advice in ritual design, obtaining appropriate tools, what the holidays are and how to set up celebrations for them, what to bring for Coven feasts, et cetera. You’re the go-to because you’re the leader they see. Again: you’re “default.”
At the second stage, you’ve got Trust. In this stage of leadership growth, people follow you because they want to. They’ve seen your prowess, your skills, your abilities, and they’re at least minimally impressed. So they follow you because they want to – they’ve grown to trust you and your skillset a bit.
At the third stage, you’ve got Thrust. At this point, people are following you because they see what you’ve done for the Coven as a group. You’ve brought in several new members, you’ve taught them well and formed good, competent Witches. You’ve gathered together the group to set up merchant booths at local events and brought in a little spare change to help the group do things together, as a team. You’ve helped them to form better with one another – even the n00bs love being amongst the group at every class or every public Pagan Pride Day, etc. You’ve got thrust – your people have seen what you’ve helped the group accomplish with real cohesiveness.
At the fourth stage, you’ve got Togetherness. At this stage of leadership growth, you’ve had some time to assess yourself and your skillset and how things are working out for the group. And you’ve likely refined a few things. And as you’ve refined, you’ve improved. And that amount of improvement, however slight, has reflected in the group in a whole new way. Here, people follow you because of what you’ve done for them. Yes, you’ve brought the group together as a team and accomplished the organization of an annual spiritual retreat. Great job! But at this stage, you’ve helped individuals grow through that group work. Coveners have actually made tangible shifts and changes, and their home lives have improved as a result, and their spiritual depth is beyond anything they would’ve imagined before. They see, in retrospect, how you’ve helped to shape them as competent, powerful Witches in their own right.
At the fifth level is Thrive. This stage of leadership growth is where the magic really happens. People don’t follow you because they have to, or because they like you, or because they see you’re accomplishments, or because they see how good the group is together, or because you’ve helped them grow and change in a progressive, positive way. Nope. Here, people follow you because they see who you are and what you represent. Here, people see that you are a leader, and that your goal this entire time has been nothing more than to make more great leaders. Not to make a name for yourself, not to garner praise from the Pagan community. No. They see that your real joy as a Coven leader isn’t about the praise and the titles. They see that your real joy is about the growth and the change and the development of other leaders in the Pagan community.
Regardless of whether your students actually go out and lead or not, you can tell that they’re highly capable of it. They may choose a different route with their path – maybe they’d rather just attend a public event here and there, but remain primarily Solitary. That’s fine. But you know – from watching them and feeling their energetic shifts and growth – that they’re capable leaders in and of themselves.
When you can come to the conclusion that praise and reward don’t matter for shit to you – then you’re a worthy leader. When you recognize that the whole point of doing Coven work isn’t to just raise good Witches, but to raise good leader Witches – then you’re a worthy leader. When you understand that your title isn’t shit, and neither are your accomplishments, but the only thing that matters is that you get other Great Witch Leaders to really thrive as Great Witch Leaders – then you’re finally worthy of that title you had bestowed upon you so long ago. As I’ve said so often to my own Coven, “If service is below you, then leadership is beyond you.” (And trust me – it takes a fucking long-ass time to get here.)