Today I invite you to listen to some thoughts about what I like to call the other side of leadership. And this conveys the invitation to look at an integrative approach to what leadership seems to be claiming to become in this XXI century. As in the last, more than, three decades, leaders are being invited to slowly transform themselves. They are being asked to incorporate emotions and allow these to guide their thoughts and actions.
Feminine Power seems to me the best expression to label this transformative impulse, led by the intelligence of the heart. As this term evokes to me both the emotional dimension, and the mental models that antagonize with its content. And because feminine presence is the most felt presence in the events I participate in this large movement of awakening to what we are, and the search for best future possibilities to our world.
In this thoughts I’m not claiming any special power to women. My invitation is to offer a perspective that perceives this power as one available to any human being.
Is it true that women have an edge in dealing with the emotional and social realms?
Are women prone to be more emotional intelligent? According to the author Daniel Goleman “yes, and yes and no”. In this article we find that “there are many tests of emotional intelligence, and most seem to show that women tend to have an edge over men when it comes to these basic skills”, but it’s not that simple.
What is so special about feminine power and women ability with it?
Mostly I think its all about the feminine power being naturaly skilful with paradoxes, and how this brings inclusiveness and wholeness.
Women had to walk with rationality and emotions side by side, for thousands of years. Even those women opting to cope with the “masculine way of think and doing” never could get rid of their emotional dimension. I couldn’t, even if I managed to hide it, while assuming I was more valued for being an rational person.
For thousands of years women where treated as incapable, mostly by its emotional and volatile nature. But in less than a century they manage to learn all what men know and do. And in this long journey we women became more and more skilful with ambiguity, and all sorts of tension that grows from the presence of opposites within us and around us.
We can’t exile parts of us.
At least I think and feel that. I’ve tried, till I find my self missing parts of me. With no idea on what was missing, only a feeling. And the challenging return journey to the realms of my heart brought me more close to my full self again, giving shape to what I feel is mine to offer to the world. My uniqueness.
And here is another edge on feminine power and the rise of the heart intelligence – it tends to preserve uniqueness and supports transmuting diferences into strengths, one of the most essential aspects to foster the emergence of collective intelligence.
We are being called to stop labelling uniqueness as an emotional discardable perspective.
In the search for objectivity our old version of leadership tends to exile people’s subjectivity, it exiles people unique thoughts feelings and action. This transformative process that is taking place is asking us to stop labelling uniqueness as an emotional discardable perspective, just because its uncontrollable and unpredictable. Instead its inviting us to learn to deal with it and master it.
What the other side of leadership brings is the ability to learn how to hold space for the intangible. And to start we should begin to offer space for this complementary side of us to emerge – subjectivity and emotions.
This is, in my view, how this other side of leadership – the feminine power – is slowly reshaping our way of leading. It is bringing awareness to the need to unite difference and benefit from it.
Feminine power its not an exclusive of women.
It seems more a kind of energy quality that permeates more easily women, as we by Nature rules and function are offered the opportunity to continuously practice this ability to hold and nurture polarities. What best example than pregnant woman lowering their defences to give space to life. A movement of vulnerability to create a fortress to life to unfold.
Also along our human evolution women are known for being committed to balancing polarities within their families, reconciling members and nurturing the excluded. This path is being walked for thousands of years.
Contrarily men were historically deprived from that opportunity, and asked to suppress opposites and eliminate diferences. We have collectively built structures that shaped this distinctive groups of gender behaviours.
But if we builded it we can change it. And now we came to a point were we need to integrate all human powers within each one of us and along our participation in the world. Now we have came to a point where our hearts intelligence are called to action as it connects us to ourselves and others.
How can we all integrate the feminine side of leadership? And why does it matters?
We have decades of knowledge about our many intelligence forms ( Multiple Intelligences,1983, Gardners) and emotional intelligence as become a worldwide recognised skill, much to the work of Daniel Goleman (1995), around which several professional services have emerged. Now days, anyone who wants to improve skills within the use of intelligence of the heart can easily find support among many people-centered professionals.
But many may wanna start by themselves, alone. I did it. And from my initial state (overrating rational) I found in the study of systems thinking an unique leverage to help this integrative approach to unite rational and emotional.
I took this road 7 years ago, and from all the theories and practices I’ve learned I still consider the first of Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines one of the best resume of practices one could adopt to step in to the new shape of leadership that we are being asked to adopt.
Developing Personal Mastery as part of a Living System
Practicing personal mastery is like holding a conversation within ourselves. One voice within us dreams of what we want for the future. Still another casts an (often baleful) eye on the world around us. A third voice, often well hidden, is willing to say, “I have chosen what I want and accepted that I will create it.” In this discipline, we try to hear all these facets clearly, knowing that the power which pulls us toward our vision emerges from the relationship between them. – Society for Organizational Learning
How does embracing this other side impacts on the concept of leadership?
It brings leadership more focused on Being, and as an essencial stage before Doing.
First it establishes individual inner work as an essencial practice.
Secondly it claims the need of safe space for authentic expression, in order to uncover more individual personal power within groups, putting uniqueness at the service of collective action.
Last, but certainly not least, this movement also brings the opportunity to bring to an equilibrium woman’s and men’s role in shaping our world, offering us a more complete view of the world.
And I really believe men should hurry up in order to avoid another imbalance. We must find the equilibrium between man and women way of leading. Women already walked a lot in this integrative journey. Shouldn’t men pause and reflect on how to really start embracing the other side of leadership?
It seems to me the answer should be yes. All points towards this evolution, as this other side offers far more effective ways to deal with impermanence, uncertainty, and cope with our vulnerability in a world of paradoxes.
Thank you for listening.
If this perspective fired up a call to action please feel free to contact me.