“The world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.” ~ Margaret Wheatley
It’s exciting to see millions of women embrace their place in the business world today. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, as of 2017, “11.6 million firms are owned by women.” Yet, it is disappointing to see that many leadership positions are still closed to them.
Why do women find leadership positions so elusive? Because leadership has long been “a man’s world,” women feel like they have to act like men to succeed. They think they have to be just as tough and competitive as a man. But when they’re confronted with office politics, they falter, because men and women fundamentally differ in their views on power and influence. And that’s not a bad thing.
It’s important to recognize the strengths that you, as a woman, bring to the table. You don’t have to act like a man. You have a powerful asset that they don’t – the power of collaboration. We, as women, use our influence as collaborators all the time in our families and communities. Now it’s time to learn to authentically use your influence as a collaborator in business, as well.
The book, “The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders,” by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, Mary Davis Holt, Diana Faison shares some wonderful suggestions…
Think bigger. I love the visualization exercise they recommend: image yourself achieving everything you want professionally under these two conditions – you can’t remain in your current position, and you can’t fail. Try it and see how it expands your thinking.
Be prepared for self-limiting beliefs to creep in. They’ll try to keep you small, but you can mindfully shift them to positive ones. If they’re really stubborn, find a friend, colleague, or mentor who can be your “truth teller.”
Manage relationships and collaborate. Even when you “don’t feel like it,” work to build genuine relationships and strategic connections. Take advantage of casual office settings and social networking events. Greet people warmly every morning. Be well prepared for your meetings and actively participate with a view to performing well. Even organize group events that your business associates will enjoy.
It’s important to pay attention to the following people within your business sphere:
- colleagues who will support you,
- key decision makers or influencers who can sponsor and promote you, and
- opponents who can make political maneuvering less complex.
Anticipate the long-term impact and cumulative results. Engage your curiosity as you visualize the outcome you desire. Consider all the options and think two or three moves ahead. This will help you identify what you need to do next to obtain your ideal results.
Acquire an executive presence. Take ownership of your career. You determine your vision, goals and path. No one can do it for you. Don’t let people underestimate you, because of the way you present yourself. NLP techniques will help you earn respect and inspire trust, so people want to work with you, recommend you and promote you.
Turn challenges into advantages. For example, women aren’t getting important feedback from male executives. That’s a challenge! You don’t know how to improve, because no one is talking. Take the initiative and ask for specific feedback. Now you have the advantage of knowing exactly what’s expected of you.
Companies that encourage and develop women in leadership positions benefit in a number of ways. Women tend to bring fresh perspectives because of their life experience and talents. Their collaborative influence increases employee engagement and higher productivity, which translates into more revenue. These advantages alone give companies a global competitive edge.
Are you ready to uncover the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (Also note the dates have changed slightly, since our first announcement. We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) I sincerely hope you take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.
My relationship with my father was…well…it was very complicated. When I was really little I adored my dad. I thought he was the best. As I got older, I learned that my father could be difficult to be around. My new story as an adult is that my father did the best he could. But the truth is it took me a long time getting to a healthy perspective about our father daughter relationship.
While a mother has a great deal to do with nurturing and helping daughters discover who they are, the father daughter relationship is extremely important too. Why? Because fathers shape their daughters in the following ways:
- our academic performance,
- our career path and financial wellbeing,
- our communication skills,
- our self-esteem and confidence,
- our body image and sense of self,
- our behavior and attitudes,
- our mental and emotional health,
- our social traits,
- who we are,
- how we experience the world,
- whether we feel safe or not,
- how we handle stress,
- how we relate with men platonically,
- who we date,
- how soon we have sex,
- whether we have successful romantic relationships or not.
When a father actively engages in his daughter’s childhood, promoting her scholastic or athletic achievements, he encourages her self-reliance and assertiveness. As a result, she’s more likely to graduate from college and enter a higher paying, more demanding job. A close mentoring relationship with her father makes a girl feel secure and supported. There’s nothing she can’t do.
But what if that’s not the reality of your father daughter relationship? Maybe your father has been absent emotionally or physically. Does that mean you’re stuck with a lot of baggage that slows you down forever? By no means! You CAN move past it.
Firstly, it’s important to be aware of the kind of relationship you have had with your dad. Whether it was positive or not, acknowledge the hurt, loss, disappointment, yearning and longing for something different. By acknowledging your feelings, you can begin to grieve and become more at peace with what was. You can now turn things around by deliberately co-creating healthy relationships in your adult life.
“Slender at first, they quickly gather force
Growing in richness as they run their course;
Once started, they do not turn back again,
Rivers, and years and friendships with good men.”
~ Sanskrit poem ~
Five steps to begin healing the father daughter relationship…
- Acknowledge the type of relationship you have had with your father.
- Be kind and compassionate toward your younger self that might still be hurting. Anger, numbness, indifference often hides a great amount of hurt that you might not want to feel, so create a safe space for you to process through these emotions mindfully. Never ever say, “I’m stupid for feeling this way”. You have a right to your feelings. Be patient with yourself as you sort through them.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Tell yourself that you deserved better, because you did! Mourn what you missed. But don’t get stuck in what should have been. Focus on learning to feel worthy of being loved, supported and cared for. Look for the positive things you did receive from your father. If nothing else, you are alive today because of him, so you can be grateful that you have the chance to use your life in a kinder, more expansive way.
- Look around you for healthy male role-models. Yes, they are out there often camouflaged as our co-workers, neighbors, or dear friends. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You have the chance to create your own supportive family of “fathers” and “brothers” to turn to for advice and help. However, be mindful of the boundaries they and their families are comfortable with. You can become a part of your male friend’s life without giving the appearance of “taking over” attention that should be given to his family and other friends.
- Deliberately surround yourself and co-create healthy friendships with the opposite sex. I understand that this might be challenging depending on the kind of beliefs and values you and your partner might have but I can’t recommend this one enough. Even though I have one of the most loving and supporting partners I could have ever asked for, I value my close friendship with other males.
As adults, we get to choose whom we want in our lives. A healthy mix of male and female friends adds richness and fullness to our experience. Your father daughter relationship is just one of the indicators of a life well lived. Take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment to see how you’re doing as a whole. Click here to download your free copy.
While traditional gender biases still put men in leadership roles and women in supportive roles, in today’s economic climate this concept is being turned upside down. Leadership roles throughout a company’s organizational structure – from executive to supervisors to team leaders – are benefiting greatly from the unique style women leaders bring to the table.
To demonstrate that women certainly have the skills needed for leadership positions, a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review ranked women significantly higher than men for 12 of the top 16 competencies in which leaders must excel. This was so, despite the preconceived notion that men would typically perform better.
The leadership qualities they ranked are:
- Takes Initiative
- Practices Self-development
- Displays High Integrity and Honesty
- Drives for Results
- Develops Others
- Inspires and Motivates Others
- Builds Relationships
- Collaboration and Teamwork
- Establishes Stretch Goals
- Champions Change
- Solves Problems and Analyzes Issues
- Communicates Powerfully and Clearly
- Connects the Group to the Outside World
- Technical or Professional Expertise
- Develops Strategic Perspective (This is the only one where men outscored women significantly.)
Do you notice that most of these skills are related to emotional intelligence? This means they encompass an ability to 1) identify and manage one’s own emotions, 2) identify and understand someone else’s emotions, and 3) relate well to others personally and professionally even under the most stressful situations. This requires that a person be self-aware, self-regulating and empathetic. These relationship-based skills are ones wherein women certainly excel.
Practicing embodied leadership accelerates the attainment of these qualities. Mindful awareness allows you to really feel and identify your emotions, so you can express them in a constructive way. A leader who embodies these qualities will manage stress and enhance the cooperative spirit of her team. She’s able to keep the lines of communication open as she soothes her own ruffled emotions and those of others. She’s able to “read” what the body language of others is telling her.
Emotional intelligence is twice as valuable as IQ in the business world, since the emotional health of the team directly impacts productivity, motivation, engagement and loyalty. An embodied leader who is emotionally intelligent will be able to:
- Restore calm out of chaos
- Express emotions not squelch them
- Have conversations not confrontations
- Diffuse tricky situations
- Negotiate calmly
- Listen without becoming defensive
- Benefit from criticism
- Keep a positive, resilient attitude despite setbacks
- Inspire respect and loyalty
- Build trust and rapport
- Be a self-starter who delights in accomplishment not position.
The best way to learn is by following the example of others. Would you like to read about women who have excelled in their leadership roles? I highly recommend the book, Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life.
Even though women have these exemplary skills, they often do lack one thing that men, by nature, exude. They lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. Because women are often more concerned about keeping their home life together, or are afraid of being viewed as unfeminine and aggressive, or they’re reluctant to reach out because of discrimination, they aren’t using their skills to the full. If you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone so as to embrace a more fulfilling lifestyle, I would love to partner with you. Contact me and we can work together in Ashland, OR or via Skype.
Over the course of the last few weeks we’ve been discussing various aspects of embodied leadership for women. It’s not something you do – it’s who you are. The way you speak, the words you choose, your body positioning, all reflect the harmony you feel by being fully present.
People follow leaders because they’re inspired by their presence and way of being, not by how smart they are or what position they hold. When you become an embodied leader who lives the life that you teach, you’ll build trust quickly and inspire others to achieve excellence.
Remember, embodied leadership results from collaboration between body, mind and spirit – the whole YOU. An excellent leader provides a model that embodies the good that others want to achieve in all areas of their own lives. Let’s recap what this means…
Body: To lead others, it’s important to model how to be physically fit. An awareness of what you’re body is telling you and what it’s revealing to others is essential to creating a presence that inspires confidence. When your body is congruent with your mind and spirit, you’ll be able to control the physiological responses to stress and you’ll feel at peace even under the most trying situations.
Mind: To lead others takes mental discipline. Developing emotional intelligence increases your ability to concentrate and focus, observe and release negative self-talk, calm your emotions, see the possibilities as you visualize positive outcomes, and be fully present in and accepting of difficult situations.
Spirit: To lead others, your passion must shine. When you’re firmly grounded in your own spirit, you never need to feel challenged or defensive, but you remain open and accepting. You’re able to hold onto your own values while helping your clients achieve what is most important to them.
When you embody or truly live what you believe, people can see that you’re balanced and centered, and they want that for themselves. This is what creates an authentic connection with others.
What are some other benefits to you and your relationships when you excel at embodied leadership skills? You’ll be able to:
- Improve physical, emotional and mental endurance, strength, and agility.
- Increase your self-confidence and composure by remaining centered.
- Keep your compassion through awareness of others.
- Sharpen your concentration, focus and visualization.
- Be organized and goal oriented so you achieve your best life ever.
- Stand out in your industry as a thought-leader.
- Stay committed to your goals in the midst of complexity.
- Use body language to clearly communicate your core beliefs with conviction.
- Read the intentions, motivations and abilities of the people around you.
- Have honest, courageous conversations about the most difficult subjects.
- Enhance and support your own mind/body/spirit and that of others.
- Resolve conflict as you learn to let situations unfold without resistance.
- Build trust as you listen carefully and proactively provide solutions.
- Act decisively while maintaining important relationships.
- Anticipate and address potential problems rather than reacting to them.
- Create opportunities for effective action in emotionally charged environments.
- Increase your own accountability and that of others.
- Enable people to self-correct by giving well-chosen feedback.
- Motivate and influence others to take action.
- Fine-tune your awareness as you see what others need and desire.
Coaching is an investment you make in yourself to create the life you truly want. Meaningful results require a commitment. Please contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me, in-person, by phone or via Skype, so we can explore our coaching partnership.
“We don’t need leaders who know about leadership. We need leaders who embody the capacity to lead in the midst of ambiguity and complexity.” ~ Pete Hamill
Does it feel like something is missing from the way dictionaries define leadership – “someone who guides, directs, controls, manages, or supervises a group of people or an organization”? People may comply when they are controlled or managed but it doesn’t create a team environment that fosters a synergy where, as a group, you accomplish greater things than you ever could as individuals.
If that synergy – which brings out the best in yourself and others – is what you’re interested in, then I’d like to introduce you to embodied leadership. It involves the way you speak, the language you use, the way you position your body, the harmony you feel by being fully present, and the calming and reassuring messages you convey to others. Ultimately, it’s about the quality of your presence and your way of being. When you practice embodied leadership you’re able to value, motivate, and bring out the best in yourself and the people around you.
Embodied leadership isn’t something you do – it’s who you are. By learning to connect the mind with the body and soul, and to lead with purpose, you can “lead at a deeper levels of self-awareness, developing your abilities to be the leader you want to be, and achieving what you are committed to achieving,” as stated by Pete Hamill. (He’s the author of Embodied Leadership – The Somatic Approach to Leadership, a book I highly recommend).
Somebody who embodies leadership in all aspects of life has a clear vision for how she wants her life to be – her personal life, her family, her home, and how she want to contribute to helping other people. It will make her a better wife, mother, friend, boss, advocate, or neighbor.
As women, we may tend toward feeling powerless at times and unable to compete in the world of male-dominated leadership. But you don’t need to compete. When you connect authentically with yourself, you can release the most important power any leader can have – not the power to dominate and control – but the power to build authentic relationships and empower others to make things happen. True leadership isn’t about barking out orders, but it’s the ability to sort out the chaos and come up with solutions that keeps the group moving forward.
How do you develop your embodied leadership potential?
Start by being more mindful of your body. For example, a 2010 study showed that open, expansive postures results in actual hormonal and neurochemical changes (testosterone elevates and cortisol, the stress hormone, lessens). And the subjects of the study gained a greater feeling of power and tolerance for risk, whether they were male or female. While contracted, closed postures had the opposite effect.
Becoming more comfortable in your own skin is the first step to embodied leadership. The somatic approach to leadership assists you in centering yourself. It gives you the awareness to see where you hold tension, and teaches you how to release it gently. It gives you the confidence and poise to stand up for what you believe to be true and important, so you can assert yourself without fear. If you’re ready to step into your own power more fully, I’d be happy to guide you. Contact me to learn more. We can work in person if you live near Ashland, Oregon, or via Skype if you live elsewhere.
This is the beginning of a series on Embodied Leadership. You’ll find the next installments below.
Read related information on Embodied Leadership:
Develop Leadership Skills in Women Who Want to Make a Difference
Women in Leadership Who Excel Have High Emotional Intelligence
20 Amazing Benefits of Applying Embodied Leadership Principles to Your Relationships
Finding Your True Self – The Key to Embodied Leadership
Principles of Aikido Empower Embodied Leaders to be Calm under Crisis
How Embodied Leadership Succeeds Where Other Leadership Styles Fail
15 Highly Organized Characteristics of a Leader to Create a Lifestyle You Love