Where's the F in Leadership?
I was standing in the fire. Her anger piercing through me as she absolutely disagreed with what I was teaching. The angry flames began to spread amongst the group. Leadership Training in a Global Corporate Organisation. We agreed to disagree and, eventually, go our separate ways. A separation that saw me running from the flames as quickly as I could!
Yet, the experience, as heated as it was, ignited a spark within me. A spark that had been dormant for a very long time. The spark demanded me to dive deeper. Deeper into an exploration of my own individual and unique leadership. To really question, listen and re-learn what this could be for me.
Sweeping the kitchen floor a few months later, a sentence dropped into my head. 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.
With 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 shadow masculine often.
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, strategizing, solutions, speed, do-ing. Processes, procedures, thinking, rational, analysing, light, seen. Solar energy.
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, choosing to work in such fast paced, conventional, uber masculine environments and cultures.
Where had my feminine side gone?
"Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” - James Joyce, Dubliners
Like Mr Duffy, I was living predominately in my head, severed from the wisdom of my body’s heart, womb, soul space.
What ensued became a journey deep into Yin, to begin to re-balance the Yang’ness of my life. I left my corporate career; set up my Freelance Training & Coaching business and began to shed the many multitude of masks that I had being wearing.
“Tear off the mask, your face is glorious.” - Rumi
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…” - Martha Postlewaite, Clearing
I spent much 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.
These much needed 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, womb wisdom, 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 externalises her wise voice.
The world around me began to look different as I wondered what our leadership could be like when we’re in true energetic balance of our masculine and feminine energies. I knew this is the radically sustainable way to lead from this place of total balance, respect, sacredness and trust.
What a difference this could make for the leadership that our world is yearning for now; for our children and families; our communities & societies.
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. To welcome every part of ourselves to the leadership conversation.
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?
1) S l o w d o w n to become more present.
2) Start close in. With what’s under your nose. Your breath. Breathe. Create moments in your day to check in with your breath. Feeling your feet grounded flat on the floor.
3) Listen. Deeply. Honestly. To what’s happening for you. Notice how these words are resonating with you.
4) Use your voice; speak from this place of deep listening, from your place of inner power.
5) Get outside! Spend time grounding in nature.
6) Open meetings with a listening space, a settling in, creating a container where all voices can be spoken and listened to.
7) Role model your own feminine leadership energies to give permission for others to mirror these.
8) Weave in rest pit stops throughout your day. Start small.
9) Seek support from your work and home community.
10) Notice your own triggers. Welcome them and walk with them and ask the power switch question:
“What would I like to have happen now?”
“The world will be saved by the western woman.” - Dalai Lama
Women are being called en masse, to rise up. We have tremendous capacity to influence and create immense change. When we are in our true balanced power willing to shed what’s “normal” and conditioned. A power that rises from within.
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, moment by moment.
This is radically sustainable and balanced leadership.
Where true diversity, inclusion and equality start from within.
This is new paradigm leadership that works in conversation with all of our energetic natures (the masculine and the feminine in true partnership and collaboration).
I’m speaking to the feminine within you as I ask:
Are you feeling the call to explore and step in to your F in Leadership?
What support do you need?
What difference will this make for you?