Mindful, embodied feminine leadership is about facilitating change gracefully not wilfully. It’s about leading with the power of full and complete presence and showing up with the most valuable gift you can give in a world of inattention – the power of your attention. It is about reviving and adapting ancient wisdom to the busy post-modern lifestyle to slow things down and increase the potency and positive effects of every conscious action you take.
According to a Microsoft Canada report, the average human’s attention span is now below that of a goldfish (8 sec vs 9 sec). The art of paying attention is said to be the biggest commodity of the 21st century.
When applied consistently and consciously in your everyday life, here are seven practices that will strengthen your vitality, presence and influence. These practices are keys to staying in your power and maintaining your sovereignty, even during times of overwhelm.
#1. Conscious Listening
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new – Dalai Lama
The art of listening is a rare and precious skill. A good listener is a compelling and trustworthy guide. Listening also places you in a receptive space, which carries a magnetic and feminine energy. Listening is a form of ‘being-ness’ that is beneficial for both the listener and the person being listened to. Due to the shortage of attention spans generally, there is a chronic shortage of skilful listeners on the planet.
The most powerful influencers listen twice as much as they speak. Learn the art of listening and doors will open, connections will thrive and incredible opportunities will present themselves to you.
#2. Conscious Breathing
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor – Thich Nat Hanh
Conscious breathing provides a gateway to the present moment. It anchors you to presence so that you can be a powerful witness and listener. It regulates your nervous system so that you can operate from the alpha brainwave state, which is a whole-brain, healing state for the nervous system. Not only does your physical digestion improve from this state, but it also improves your ability to digest important information, process your emotions and regulate your mental state. An upper chest, anxious breather will generate a sense of unsteadiness. A slow, belly breather will exude calmness, create safety and magnetise people to provide refuge from a busy world.
#3. Embracing Polarities and Diversity
It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognise each other, to learn to see the other and honour him for what he is: each the other’s opposite and complement – Herman Hesse
Culturally, in the western world, leadership has required us to hide parts of ourselves to be accepted or respected. It has required a shutting down of diversity so that only those who hide their flaws and imperfections are chosen to lead. However, more and more, people are trusting leaders who are not afraid to expose their human frailties and challenges, their capacity to hold diversity and non-judgement within themselves so that they can be capable of doing it for others.
Mindful, embodied feminine leadership is infinitely patient, non-judgemental and unconditional presence. It embraces opposites and holds room for diversity in the same way that a kaleidoscope holds and arranges fractals of colour, with each element playing a crucial and honourable part in the whole.
Richard Miller’s iRest program is an incredible practice for learning how to feel comfortable holding polarity. Check out his extraordinary work here.
There has been a lot of recent discussion and debate online about what it means to be BIPOC (black, indigenous, person of colour) in a world of white privilege in leadership. Many feminine leaders are unconsciously failing to adopt an inclusive approach to leadership. This can include the common action of using photography for marketing which contains predominantly white, Caucasian people as well as ascribing terms that are culturally inappropriate.
If you’ve been unsure about how to navigate your work in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way, Leesa provides help and insight into expressive writing prompts here.
#4. Commitment to Integrity above Approval of Others
If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything – Gordon A Eadie
Leadership that is self-conscious about how it is perceived by others will be prone to apathy and indecision. Great decisions will often be controversial in nature and the mindful feminine leader won’t shy away from making them. Gone are the days where leadership over-rides the leader’s integrity in order to keep the approval of the masses.
Understanding your values and sticking to these no matter what can be super challenging, especially in the context of a very toxic mainstream, but it is the only way to be truly sustainable. Being true to your values requires you to know your values well. Defining your values is a simple exercise. For fabulous guidance, refer to Dr John Demartini’s work here.
No one will have perfect language, behaviour and solutions. With centuries of oppression towards the feminine, there will always be the risk of stumbling, screwing up, being faced with other people’s anger, judgement, projections, pain and differing opinions.
Mindful feminine leaders practice a sincere commitment to self- realisation so that their integrity can come from staying true to who they are, and all actions spring forth from this truth no matter what other people think. They are also aware that the courageous work of leading comes with the inevitable backlash of those who disagree with them and are able to place their values and their convictions above the fear of judgement.
#5. Commitment to Connection above Hierarchy
From sage on the stage to guide on the side – Alison King
One of the reasons why women’s circles are gaining in popularity is because they facilitate a theme of genuine equality and inclusiveness between everyone in the circle. There is no sage on the stage, preaching or teaching. There is a prioritisation of connection above hierarchy, which allows each and every person to be sovereign, to have an entitlement to opinion and to have a voice.
Leaders everywhere are stepping off stages and placing bare-feet on the ground, standing shoulder to shoulder with others as a mark of solidarity and sovereignty which does not discriminate against anyone. They are also aware that leadership that prioritises status over the wellbeing of others, sustainability for the planet, good health or relationships is redundant leadership.
#6. Awareness of Body Language
80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words – Deborah Bull
Mindful, feminine leaders understand how their body language affects communication. They hold an open, approachable and steady posture. They avoid fidgety, extraneous movement, as they know that excessive movement tends to give the impression of shiftiness and engenders untrustworthiness. They keep their body language open and approachable and have good boundaries of space.
#7. Employ Authentic Power
Humbleness, forgiveness, clarity and love are the dynamics of freedom. They are the foundations of authentic power – Gary Zukav
Authentic power is the courage to admit to imperfections, flaws and vulnerabilities without allowing it to stop one’s life’s work. Mindful, feminine leaders are aware of the dynamic and often contradictory paradox of the human condition. They have genuine humility, which supports them to be approachable and down to earth. They have done their shadow work and are forgiving of other people’s flaws because they are not afraid of their own. They are frequently free of the constraints of judgement because of their level of presence, which is an egoless state.
More and more women are claiming their sovereignty. More women are being called into mindful, feminine leadership roles within their own families, businesses and organisations. For these roles to be sustainable, they must be committed to conscious listening and breathing, embracing diversity, connection, integrity, authentic power and embodiment.