“We are the ones we have been waiting for” the sign says- but what if you don’t want to be? What if we are practising reluctant leadership?
Because we know being a leader these days is raw, gritty work standing up and suggesting a different way forward based on our deepest values- those that connect us. As a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Trainer, I find myself being asked to speak- people even give me a microphone and write down what I say. I know I am sharing what I have learned so far and I’m glad it supports people. I didn’t set out to be a leader, and now I see that it is essential work for us all as we head for climate breakdown. Leading the way towards a world that works for all finding along the way that we all need healing from the trauma of our past and the generations who have lived through war, famine and separation.
There is steady flow of huge numbers of powerful people who do not want to change how it is now- or who want even more separation and they pull in the other direction,
Standing up to this and being in our pain and inviting others into theirs is exposing. Being vulnerable and naked emotionally and leads to cold sweats, binge eating and no place to hide from what’s going on for you… I don’t think it’s just me.
I know now why women don’t do it so often- because we cannot rely on our structural and physical power- we have to dig deep and go against ideas of how women should behave.
I often read that women are not in positions of leadership because they lack confidence…. for sure and let’s dig further into the idea that it is all about confidence as if we could flick a switch and just be confident like men.
BEFORE we even try and find the confidence we need to find the spaces to practise, to try and to mess up and to become…. we don’t often have these spaces…. In nursery’s/ kindergartens I went into I watched children painting. Usually the board was in the corner of the room next to the taps, there was often a long process of putting aprons on and and negotiating space, water, paints, brushes- which the adults if they were wise, left the children to sort out. Then there was freedom to create with no judgement. Creations were labelled- by the children and left to dry and take home. Somewhere along the lines this stops happening and art becomes about comparison and a ‘lesson’. I wonder if we do the same for other things? For sure leadership in girls is called bossy and research suggests that the labelling has a negative impact on women in the workplace even though men also show behaviours that are labelled bossy.
How to be a leader? how to do something we’ve only ever experienced in a patriarchy….. this is unknown territory- we all lack confidence to do this- if someone says they know how to be the kind of leader we need this century I do not believe them. We are all trying to find new ways and one thing I’ve learnt is that there is no ‘way’ just trying, messing up and learning at this moment in time.
That is not to say I don’t see leadership I admire- I do and I watch and learn.
This kind of leadership is also about teams, support, and what to do afterwards, where to go with all that comes up after stepping into leadership … because we want to do it our way and not with armour plating, but stepping up and being seen is dam HARD on our systems and we haven’t yet created the space to grieve, celebrate and be proud….
Our confidence will grow when we do it- mine has…. But I am the reluctant leader and still hide….at the same time I started delving into leadership I started exploring my addictions and the numbing I do….. still diving deep and being my own leader just now.
Some reading on Leadership I am enjoying or are in my pile to read this summer:
Brené Brown Dare to Lead, The Tao of Leadership John Heider- I had to get it on Kindle as out of print, Margaret Wheatley’s work, Frederic LaLoux and Reinventing Organisations and Otto Scharmer and Theory U .
What are you reading or exploring on this topic?