Where’s the F in Leadership?
Her anger pierced through me as she absolutely disagreed with what I was teaching. The angry flames flickered throughout the group as we agreed to disagree and go our separate ways.
This experience ignited a spark, one that had been dormant for a long time. I just knew I had to dive deeper into the exploration that is the feminine in leadership. Sweeping the kitchen floor a few months later, a sentence dropped into my head. A Cinderella moment indeed! I placed my broom to one side, grabbed a pen and wrote down this question:
Where’s the F in Leadership?
The missing pieces of the leadership puzzle began clicking into place. As humans, we’re energetically comprised of masculine and feminine qualities, regardless of our gender. Based on a 20 year Corporate Career working in various Global Financial Services organisations, in my experience, the behaviours; the environment; the culture, is built predominantly on masculine energies and structures.
The language of choice is masculine in nature – have you noticed? Deadlines, man hours, key man dependencies, time is money, cost efficiencies, cost cutting, linear, planning, logical, strategising, solutions, speed, doing. Processes, procedures, thinking, rational, analysing, light, seen.
Black and white. Winners and losers. Hierarchy. Power over. Domination.
I began to realise how utterly lopsided I had become, as a result of my corporate, societal and life conditioning, working in such fast paced, conventional, uber masculine environments and cultures.
“Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” James Joyce, Dubliners
Like Mr Duffy, I was living predominately in my head, cut off from the wisdom of my body. What ensued has become a journey into Yin, combined with Yang action. I left my corporate career; set up my freelance training & coaching business and began to shed the multitude of masks that I had being wearing.
I took inspiration from poetry.
“Create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands…”
I spent alot of time wandering in the woods.
“…Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worthy of rescue.” Martha Postlewaite, Clearing
I let my feminine energies take the lead as we reacquainted ourselves with each other.
Feminine Leadership energies are cyclical, creative, chaotic, soft, powerful, nourishing, cycles, fierce, nurturing, receptive, seasonal, flowing, fluid, emotional, intuitive, wise, community, be-ing. Sensual, surrendering, dreaming, dark, unseen, moon energy.
The language of the feminine is soft, gentle, fierce, powerful, creative, reflective, deep and wise. Circles are her all inclusive shape of choice. She dreams, she flows, she births. She rests, she pauses, she whispers. All before she speaks and takes action.
The cure for lop-sidedness?
For true, balanced, whole, diverse, authentic and inclusive leadership, our feminine and masculine energies must be in balance – must speak to each other respectfully as equals. What I’ve learnt is they’re not mutually exclusive, rather, mutually inclusive. We need both energies to function effectively and sustainably.
So how does this play out in everyday life and business?
The feminine dreams the dream. The masculine takes action.
The feminine intuits each step. The masculine creates the structure, the container.
The feminine delves into the darkness. The masculine sheds light on it.
The feminine knows. The masculine acts.
The feminine is. The masculine does.
How can you start the conversation with your feminine leadership energies?
Slow down to become more present.
Start close in. With what’s under your nose. Breathe. Create moments in your day to check in with your breath. Feeling your feet grounded flat on the floor.
Listen. Deeply. Honestly. To what’s happening for you. Notice how these words are resonating with you.
Use your voice; speak from this place of deep listening, from your place of inner power.
Get outside! Spend time grounding in nature.
Open meetings with a listening space, a settling in, creating a container where all voices can be spoken and listened to.
Role model the feminine leadership energies to give permission for others to mirror these.
Weave in rest pit stops throughout your day. Start small.
Seek support from your work and home community.
Notice your own triggers. Welcome them and walk with them and ask “What would I like to happen now?”
“Tear off the mask, your face is glorious.” Rumi
As women led businesses and enterprises, we have tremendous capacity to influence and create immense change. It may mean being willing to shed what’s “normal” and conditioned.
It takes courage, strength and vulnerability to open up to ALL of our energies – revealing the yin and the yang; the feminine and the masculine, the dark and the light.
It starts with each one of us. We’ve got to re-write our individual leadership story where everything is welcome to the table to work from a place of partnership, co-creation and community. Where our power as leaders arises from within; it’s an empowerment from the wisdom and deep intuition held in our bodies, beyond our egos. Where we remember to listen deeply to this wisdom that we already possess.
This is radically sustainable and balanced leadership.
This is new paradigm leadership that works in conversation with all of our energetic natures.
“The world will be saved by the western woman.” Dalai Lama
Are you ready to explore and step in to your F in Leadership? Why not register here for a 30 minute leadership and coaching call and gain clarity on where to go on your leadership journey? We would love to hear from you!
Eimear Stassin is the founder of Stassin Leadership and Coaching