My daughter almost got off the school bus on a bitterly cold, polar vortex day — and no one was there to meet her.

The communication mix-up was worthy of a sitcom script, and while the day was saved by the sharp eyes and gut feelings of her bus driver (who made a phone call and a return trip to her school), I learned something important about my daughter.

While I was panicking, having realized the mix-up before everyone else, and was racing through side roads, barely obeying traffic laws (and only when I absolutely had to), trying desperately to beat the bus home, my daughter was making plans of her own….

She knew she was supposed to be at the after school program, that there would be no one awaiting her as the bus wove through the residential streets, dropping children off. She calmly decided she was going to walk home and throw snowballs at the house until I came home.

In fact, upon finding her frazzled mom (I thought I hid it relatively well) awaiting her at the school at the end of her grand adventure, she seemed a little disappointed that her plans to pelt our empty house with snowballs were thwarted.

My daughter is a leader. She can’t help it — it simply oozes out of her, sometimes in ways that require a quiet conversation later, a bit of redirection to help her navigate this gifting without alienating friends and classmates. And I love it. I want my daughter to lead, to be an influencer instead of always influenced by those around her. But I want her to lead well, just as I want to lead well.

In a world full of pundits discussing what female leadership ought to look like, including ongoing conversations about Melissa Mayer at Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg’s book titled Lean In, I’ve struggled to define the kind of female leader that I want to emulate — and the kind of female leadership I want to model for my little leader-in-training.   

It was about a week later, with our family all piled into the minivan for a trip to the Cities, that I picked up a new book,The Jesus-Hearted Woman, and stumbled upon words that have echoed inside my head and my heart in the weeks since: leading with gracious confidence.

Yes! That is the leader I want to be.

What leadership qualities are tucked into the term “gracious confidence?” I’ll give you sneak peek:

  • Authenticity
  • Humility
  • Resilience
  • Courage
  • Kindness

There are five more, but you should find Jodi Detrick’sbook and read through the chapters instead of just getting the list. You won’t be disappointed.

Finally, a book on leadership that resonates in my soul.