Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Linda Clark's new book, 5 Leadership Essentials for Women, (New Hope Publishers, 2007).

As a woman, you likely serve in many different roles, from volunteer and employee to family member and friend. Juggling so much can be overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be. If you approach your tasks with strong leadership skills, you can serve successfully, whether you’re leading a Bible study at church, presenting a report at work, or organizing an event at your child’s school.

Here’s how you can develop strong leadership skills:

Communicate well. Seek to open windows of understanding between yourself and others. Evaluate situations thoroughly before you respond to them, so you’ll have time and information you need to think through the best response. When leading others on a task, determine your approach based on their ability and willingness to get the job done (you may have to give some people plenty of explicit instructions, coach or encourage others, and delegate the task to still others). Get to know the needs of people who follow your leadership, and do what you can to meet them.

Remember that people perform best when their needs are met. Learn how to listen well to others. Be friendly, open, warm, empathetic, honest, patient and sincere with them. Stop talking to invite others to say what they want to say. Give them your full attention while they’re speaking. Show your interest in what they have to say by maintaining good eye contact and using other nonverbal communication, such as nodding your head or leaning forward. Listen for the main points and build a mental outline as they speak.

Don’t make up your mind in advance about what speakers will say or how you will react to it, even if you disagree. Defer judgment until you’ve heard and are sure you understand the messages in their entirety. Ask questions to clarify messages and encourage speakers to give you more information. Evaluate how effectively your nonverbal communication is supporting your verbal communication (what you speak or write). Consider your voice, body language, clothing, etc.

Learn how to speak in public well. Practice your speech beforehand in front of a mirror. Plan how to handle any nervous reactions you might have (if your mouth gets dry, have a glass of water handy, or if your hands or legs tend to shake, work off excess energy with some physical exercise like jogging in place just before your speech). Analyze your audience ahead of time so you’ll know how best to relate your message to the people in it. Show up early and meet some people who will be in the audience so you’ll see some friendly faces when you speak. Instead of focusing on yourself during the speech, focus on the audience. Speak from an outline so you’re not tempted to read your speech word-for-word, which comes across as bland and dull. Vary the inflection in your voice instead of speaking in a monotone. Make good eye contact with the audience. Be sure to illustrate your main points with stories.

Whenever you plan to communicate a message – through either speaking or writing –ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?”, “Does this message need to inform, persuade, entertain, inspire, or call to action?”, “What is the specific response I hope for from the audience?” and “What’s the specific purpose of this message?” Pray for God’s guidance.