Feminine leadership is emerging


Leadership is often a centralised concept that also encompasses notions of power and how it is used. But a more feminine leadership is emerging to engage and inspire people to nurture a better, more flourishing tomorrow.

Many organisations we work in are unintentionally stuck in a scarcity mentality. Who can blame them? There is so much to do with increasingly limited resources – especially in Not for Profit organisations that are hard hit by dwindling Government funding. So many of our traditional institutions and systems appear to be in failure – education, health, and some may suggest, even the political system itself.

We seem paralysed – seeking a new way, knowing there has to be one but not having time or energy to pursue it. Unable to make the profound changes necessary to enable us all to flourish into the future.

Within this context, I suggest we need a leadership that is healing and nurturing. Healing the damage of the past and nurturing the possibility of the future. And yet, our existing understanding of leadership is more competitive and I venture to suggest – exploitive in its nature.

Our times are calling forth a new leadership. A more distributed and feminine leadership is emerging. I don’t mean ‘female’ I mean feminine – as distinct from the more traditional masculine (and yes, often ‘male’) story of the hero leader who knows the answers and leads from the front.

I don’t think that we need to swing completely from the older heroic style of leadership as we have come to know it. But as in the concept of ying and yang, we can consider including both.

The world today is more inter-connected, uncertain and rapidly changing than what is was early in my lifetime. A new worldview is being prompted by global challenges such as a climate change, growing water scarcity, social injustices …  Today we are contending not just with the increasing rate of change but also the scope of the change – a paradigm shift is required.

This changing context, along with different societal values (such has wanting to be involved), are shaping a more feminine leadership that is not:

1.     forceful but more facilitative;

2.     exclusive but more inclusive;

3.     right but more open and vulnerable;

4.     controlling but more trusting;

5.     competitive but more collaborative; and

6.     purely economically focussed but multi-dimensional (economy, people and planet).

Previously leaders supplied answers and ‘drove’ change by imposing it on others. Telling them what needs to be done. However increasingly we see that the types of challenges today require us to gather stakeholders together and as we we realise the interconnections between issues, these groups become larger . And its not about telling what to do anymore because the issues tend to be so complex that one person can’t gain a broad enough perspective to work out what to do.

So the leadership role becomes one of raising questions, being prepared to admit that you don’t know the answer, but willing to engage with those who are relevant to allow the answer to emerge through conversations that matter. It becomes a facilitative role of ‘holding the space’ and distributes leadership to others for more difficult conversations that require and nurture deeper relationships to contain the emotional work.

Leadership is becoming more healing and nurturing – feminine and distributed – in its nature to meet the needs of our times.

If you’re interested in having Josie speak to your group or organisation about feminine leadership, click here to get in touch.