The wisdom Council Reflections continued…
What also struck me about this day of wisdom was…
We are asking ourselves as women, how we can bring our authentic power to life, in particular within the cultural environments that seem to inhibit or under value our true cares and feminine strengths.
The morning’s conversations exploring our true cares and looking into what it really means to live and lead a life of integrity – (ie. choosing to behave in alignment with those true cares), laid a powerful foundation for what followed. The whole group surfaced many key questions and through a process of prioritisation, chose the most ‘alive’ question for us to take to our council.
Here is the question that was chosen:
How do we sustain our collective feminine leadership to bring about cultural change?
Close on it’s heals were these other questions:
How can we define feminine leadership in a balanced and inclusive way, in order to get wider engagement?
How do we release fear so we can bring our work to the world?
What do we as leaders want to lead others toward?
How do we embrace our own authenticity and embrace the challenges brought about by the growth of authenticity in others?
These questions reflect to me a growing awareness amongst us of a desire to find a new way to lead that embraces a truer sense of who we are, our higher human values and a sense of personal and collective purpose and vision, all of which enable us to co-create a new future.
They also speak of the need to include more of the ‘feminine’ strengths we have access to that are not so widely valued in our culture. This of course is a need for balance rather than tipping the scales from masculine to feminine. In my view the need for restoring and integrating these feminine principles and strengths with the masculine drivers that are more habitual, is essential. Not only is it key for us to be truly authentic but I believe it will enable us to bring about a more holistic and balanced leadership worldview that evokes ‘right-action’ and the generative evolution of humanity. (Whether that be in our families, in our work environments or on a wider scale as influential leaders in the world).
It is also recognised that for men to be truly authentic in their power, their ‘feminine’ energy also needs to be integrated. The ‘skew’ towards ‘masculine’ versions of power is a societal one that effects both genders but that shows up in different ways for men and women because of our cultural conditioning.
So how we redress that balance individually and collectively as women is a question that is fundamental to our role as conscious female leaders…. and our role-modelling of women at the heart of leadership.
Our council question reflects the essential purpose of the Women at the Heart of Leadership Community.
How do we sustain our collective feminine leadership to bring about cultural change?
This question for the council is a fantastic and high level question that reflects many aspects of the ‘raison d’etre’ for this community; to provide a safe space, with the conditions needed for us to flourish, where we can practice and support one another in valuing, growing and integrating our feminine strengths…so that we can step fully into our authentic, balanced power as leaders and bring our greatest contributions to life…. (I’ll need to hone that one!) In doing this we will automatically bring about conscious, generative cultural change.
For many of us the council question brings a host of other questions into play which I am itching to delve into more deeply. Such as…
How do we define or describe ‘feminine’ leadership? In what ways are we already engaging a more feminine, balanced way of leading and how can we sustain and grow that? How can we support one another collectively in strengthening ourselves so we become the role models that bring about new ways of being and showing up in our lives as leaders? What is the shift in culture that we want to co-create as conscious leaders and how would we, our lives and our world be different as a result?
I wonder what other questions or insights this question evokes for you?
This Wisdom Council was a modern day application of the original practice of The Wisdom Council – a process by which the leaders or elders in tribal communities would come together to find ways to address issues relating to the sustainable well-being of their communities. It uses a highly accessible and innate model of holistic leadership called ‘The Council Wheel’ which is derived from an ancient body of wisdom teachings encompassing all the natural energies of life.
Formed in a circle, signifying wholeness and balance within the wider system represented, the model is made up of 8 ‘perspectives’ that sit in each of the 8 directions of the compass. Each direction has two ‘key words’ that point to the essence of the energy being held in that direction.
Having each perspective properly represented means that the issue or question that is being addressed is being addressed thoroughly and holistically. The ‘chiefs’ would sit in groups according to the perspective they were responsible for ‘holding’ and look into the question through the ‘lens’ of that direction. Perhaps more importantly, the 8 directions form an intentional ‘container’ of conscious awareness through which deeper wisdom and insights can emerge.
A couple of days before the council I met with eight fabulous women who I had asked to support the day by ‘holding and strengthening’ one of the eight directions. Each of these women beautifully offered their personal insights to the group before we began the formal council.
One of my teachers WindEagle (Ehama Institute), with whom I trained for many years in this wisdom tradition of holistic leadership, sent a very inspiring message to the women in the council, an extract from which I share here:
‘In the past, those who were called to council were the deeply respected sages that carried within them deep integrity and authenticity which allowed them access to the powers of the universe and the authority to speak for the people. In the early societies, there were men’s councils and women’s councils, and in some societies, the grandmothers chose the men to sit in council, thereby holding a powerful influence in the society.
The power of the women’s voices have always had a place, however our society has for many many decades denied that power in various ways. The power however has not diminished, rather it has seasoned and ripened into a new form, ready to fly in its own trajectory. When we are separate, in our own worlds of challenge and responsibility, we as women are still able to stand our ground and contribute our gifts, however, when we are together and accessing the collective power of women, we are unstoppable.’
And so finally I share with you a part of what emerged in the council. It’s the notes that related to what was recommended by the women that will give a flavour of the richness of those conversations, albeit not fully reflective of the amazing wisdom they presented on the day.
Council Question: How do we sustain our collective Feminine Leadership to bring about cultural change?
East – Freedom and Creativity
Create time and space
Stay open, be receptive
The spark will come
Listening deeply to self and others
Be true to self and trust
Embody the feeling
Spark ignited by collective space
South East – Present Condition and Appreciation
Appreciate what energises us (individually)
Allows us to be authentic and offer support to others (commitment to community)
Use our appreciation to promote our freedom and creativity
Being in the ‘present’ helps us find the spark of creativity
Appreciate ourselves: allows us to act with courage
Find a way to use the collective and connection(s)
South – Power and Danger
Define/find a new way of describing Feminine Leadership in order to be more inclusive and engage others
To positively model Feminine Leadership celebrating talents and passion
Create White Space for ourselves and support each other – network, coaching, training, phone calls
Feminine Leadership for men – support and encouragement for role models who do display it – create opportunities for men to develop a broader leadership style
South West – Purpose and Direction
Create White Space to connect with yourself
Recognise and respect the need for White Space for all
Find ways to be creative and supported in having Courageous Conversations with yourself and others including… Am I aligned here? Can I be a feminine leader here?
Recognise and leverage spheres of influence
Storytelling – show people what it looks like – incremental demonstrations
Be inclusive of whole system – from community to executive
West – Maintenance and Balance
Create regular gathering spaces for women to support, find and discover new actions together
Modify the question ‘how do we sustain and grow our collective feminine leadership…‘ – invite more into the space
North West – Interrelatedness and Timing
Women heal ourselves first then invite others when the time is right
Recognise patterns and opportunities and act on them
Value the power of ourselves and ‘own it’ – so that we can share generously *Jump into the river together*
North – Clarity and Action
Defined balance and leadership
Women’s council’s / networking
Mentoring and training – role models
Use of social media
Education system – write to schools/nurseries
North East – Integrity and Vitality
Appreciating small achievements (too) and celebrating
Fostering ownership and consultation
Lead by example even when not in a position of power
Mentoring and coaching
Clear communication – state values – collaboration