Recently I enjoyed the great pleasure of attending the Advancing Women in Leadership: Cultivating our Whole Selves Conference at Omega Institute in upstate New York.
In the spirit of #DoPowerDifferently my colleagues and I were invited to present a workshop entitled, Mastering Authenticity, Influence and Power through Embodied Leadership.
It was both an exciting and humbling experience.
Exciting because my colleagues and I were sharing something we love and know to be incredibly transformative learning and leading via embodiment practices.
Humbling because it was clear that through the simple support of their natural embodied instincts, women explored their gifts of leadership in amazingly creative, expressive ways and powerful ways. More on this front later.
Sally Helgesen, keynote speaker, writer and leadership consultant, started her presentation on women’s vision by sharing a bit of her own journey with us (Check out her video below).
She, too, back in the late 80’s, had been seeking an answer to the question, “what do I need to do to be successful?”
With few obvious female leaders or mentors available she set about first researching, and later interviewing women in search of the answer.
She expressed dismay (only a smidge of sarcasm) to find that most of the focus in the literature was on what women lacked relative to their leadership. For example, “they didn’t play sports so they don’t know about teamwork.”
She expressed excitement that in her interviews with women something quite different was actually revealed, something that the workplace couldn’t fully appreciate in the early 1990’s–women’s contributions to leadership.
Women, she found,
- Exhibit strength in ‘seeing’ the broader landscape of work and personal life through a wide-angle lens v.s. a narrow focus
- Showed little interest in perks and titles, often preferring modest offices in the dead center of an organization
- Tended to lead from the center rather than the top, drawing people in around them and creating connections throughout the organization, rather than putting up and reinforcing hierarchical barriers.
- Showed a clear and compelling bias for direct communication. They actually preferred receiving information from those directly concerned, rather than conveyed up a chain of command.
- Put primacy on relationships in all their diversity, and sought to make collaboration and teamwork cascade through their organizations, rather than pitting people against one another and letting them duke it out. As a result they were able to skillfully integrate their personal and professional lives vs. compartmentalizing them.
“It’s been extraordinary to watch how the five distinctions I studied and wrote about in women’s leadership over twenty years ago, have become mainstream leadership skills. They’re no longer viewed as soft skills. They’re viewed as leadership skills.”
It’s clear. Women #DoPowerDifferently. And, we’ve had a big impact.
Where does that leave us today? Yes, each of us. You?
Our task today is to bring our natural skills fully to the fore: a vision of inclusivity, powerful relationship skills, innovative and strategic thinking.
How are we tapping into our collective power in 2018?