Vision 2020 - Reflections of Women in Leadership
Niran Jiang, January 2011
May we realise women and men are of one, where women hold the space for men to progress within.
When women are held down, so are men and humanity.
A Paradigm Challenge
Gender diversity is a key foundation for us to learn to work with diversity. If we cannot harvest what women, 50% of our population, have to offer, how can we succeed in working effectively across races, cultures and nations?
Let’s take a small step towards harvesting diversity among humanity and reflect on the gender war that has marked the beginning of human history where men and women take turns to dominate the other. We know little of our matriarch period, because the history as we know it today was recorded by the victors of the patriarchy. Even so, most of us will agree that we have advanced in the past 5000 years.
If women’s leadership is about taking turns and going back to the matriarch, then we would not be able to declare progression by going back in time. A simple logic indeed, yet today’s debate on this topic rarely goes beyond gender percentage ratio in leadership positions.
We must think beyond the political agenda of equality, fairness and human rights, even if great progress has been made under these banners. Yet, it deepens the belief structure of our gender war paradigm, and stiffens the rigidity suffered in our consciousness divide and collective creativity. Furthermore such linear extension of our historical ways of dealing with gender issues is surely not sufficient to help us with the systemic challenges we now face.
If we open up our horizon high and broad, what is possible for gender collaboration? We need an expansive vision holding waves of possibilities - for women as well as men flourishing together to be the best they can be, for the feminine and masculine inside each one of us to dance in prosperity and richness for ourselves and our children, and for the human race to cherish differences among ourselves and all life forms and to harvest diversity for a blossoming planet.
Women and men are built differently with a purpose; let’s not make them the same forced by a rigid ideology. In their differences lie the unique gifts each gender has to offer and the amazing possibilities for co-creation of the human race.
My Search Within and Without
In search of a new vision for gender collaboration, I travelled back in time in a culture I am familiar with for a quest of knowledge, about the gender differences and how to work with them effectively. I trust the depth of human wisdom of our early civilizations as a way working collaboratively with nature and natural forces, even it may be induced by our humility for survival.
I trust the discerning nature of time, with the knowledge accumulated over thousands of years being practised and tested by emperors, rulers and common folks across a wide range of political agendas and belief structures. I appreciate the collective nature of knowledge accumulation in Chinese history, as texts were often written by a large school of scholars or anonymous hermits, and then footnoted and edited over the centuries by generations of scholars and practitioners and more recently by some western scholars as well. Yet I am aware that as far as I could search back, within the records we have available today, it is still written in the context and language of patriarchy. Therefore I need to shift through sands in order to pan out the gold.
This is also a personal quest for my own authentic feminine within and without. I come from a strong line of women, and am raised by a grandmother who trekked from coastal China to Inner Mongolia, running away on her “three inch golden lilies” from the turmoils during war time China. As a young girl of only six years old, grandmother was carved into a prettiest thing with the smallest bound feet, and made into a badge of an honour for a man to wed. Yet when life dished her out a series of most unfortunate miseries, she was transformed from a dependent weakling of the patriarch into an independent fighter for the matriarch, bringing up her daughter and granddaughter to be the most self sufficient and resilient warriors in life. What possibilities may I behold and bring forth for my daughter and our family line to prosper into the future?
It is under this context I investigate, study and develop the thoughts on leadership that I lay out here in this article. I borrow words, symbols and images directly or indirectly from our collective pools of wisdom recorded in books and encountered in personal discussions. I express my limited reflections and thoughts on this topic through my personal filters, for discerning eyes to judge, take in or discard. The purpose is to stimulate collective development of a bigger vision for gender collaboration and new stories for women leadership.
Leadership is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The end should be the purpose which leadership serves or the outcome through which leadership achieves. Leadership occurs within the scope of an entity, be it a society, an organisation or a team. The operation of such an entity in human affairs seems to be achieved through a process of leading and following enforced in a hierarchical structure throughout human history across cultures. The entity sets, implicitly or explicitly, the purpose and the outcome of the leadership which it has bestowed upon its leaders.
In order to transcend the specific context of an entity and to examine the general nature of leadership, let us assume the purpose of any leadership is to achieve resilient success and prosperity for its entity. I use the word resilient rather than sustainable, as no achievements, even of the plastic kind, can stand still and last forever. Every form created is to be destroyed in time and space. Sustainability is a human fantasy for immortality and is against the law of nature. The sooner we can get over our fantasies, the better we shall be in riding with the tides of nature to create what we desire.
With the increasing complexity and challenges facing human affairs today, leadership success seems to be a mission impossible. Yet never more than before in human history, leadership holds such a critical stake for the survival of organisations and humanity at large. Everywhere people lament the lack of leadership, despite the proliferation of management leadership books, tools and training. To advance our thinking and practice in this field, we shall need to go beyond the brilliance of individual minds today and attempt to borrow some learning from a more collective base – the wisdom of our past and the wisdom of nature.
Any success, either tangible or intangible, is produced through creative acts. To be successful, a leader must understand and master the fundamentals of creative processes. No master is as successful as nature for its creative actions and track records, therefore no teacher is as qualified.
All life is created through the lively interaction of masculine and feminine elements in nature, so is any resilient success in leadership. The successes produced have life sparks and dynamic zests naturally embedded within, and therefore can go on living, growing and changing, and giving life to new off-spring.
Therefore let’s first investigate and explore the nature of these two base elements of all creativity, success and life, so that we may question our deeply held assumptions and paradigms around genders and draw new insights on women leadership. Such investigation of the base elements, in order to acquire a meaningful depth to achieve our purpose, requires us to dive into the abstract realm of energy and temporarily shift gears away from the practical to the philosophical.
Masculine – The Element of Time
The nature of the masculine element is time based, its energy is vertical progression, and its essence is movement. It is of primal power – active, energetic and of the spirit. It contains a myriad of impulses, and functions to seed, to awaken and to drive forward. The movement of the masculine is a direct forward movement, and its resting state is standstill. It is individual-based with unquenchable thirst for winning, competing and rising above.
Like the sky, it is untiring with no fixed form or shape of its own, but is in a constant cycle of movements which rarely stops or slackens. The spirit of the masculine is self-driven, self- disciplined and self-propelling, striving to create and achieve with no retirement. It is discriminative and directional, with a clear agenda programmed in its very being. It is consistently strong in character with persisting energy to strive forward. It awakes and develops things on its path and cannot be restricted. It contains the attributes to generate beginnings, create forms, and further with perseverance. The root character is achievement.
Feminine – The Element of Space
The nature of the feminine element is space based, its energy is horizontal extension, and its essence is openness. It is of receptive power – committed, resilient and of the soul. It contains a myriad of forms, and functions to receive, to nourish and to further beyond. The movement of the feminine is an opening out, and in its resting state it is closed. It is collective-based with limitless space for outward support, collaboration and nurturing.
Like the earth, it has the capacity to carry forward life forms as well as the ability to absorb back death materials, with no agenda of its own choice. It is in harmony with the boundless, and embraces everything in its breadth and illumines everything in its greatness. It is not discriminative of whom it nourishes, but to supply what each life form requests, and to bring forth its fruits based on its inner programming and on its own terms. Through it, individual beings attain success. The root character is compassion.
The feminine and the masculine are not the opposite of each other, but two complementary dimensions of all life sources and forces. It seems they are opposite, as they move in opposing directions, i.e. with the increase of one comes the decrease of the other, in an endless cycle of change. Such seemingly polarising opposites form the dynamics of nature, which propels the geometrical rhythms of time, space and life forms.
Not only they are not the opposite of each other, they are also rooted in each other. The feminine holds the masculine and the masculine distils the feminine. The extreme dominance of one gives birth to the other. The feminine connotes spatial reality, in contrast to the spiritual potentiality of the masculine. Through perseverance, the potential becomes real and the spiritual becomes spatial. The harmonious dance of the two gives vitality and therefore proliferation of life forms.
Yet, the two elements must maintain their independence to sustain the creation process. If one swallows up the other, there is annihilation of life and creativity. It is essential to sustain the individual integrity of each element, and when they stand in solidarity as well as in resonance to each other, the creative dance can start and continue. With the masculine push to change and the feminine pull to bring together (or integrate), further diversification of energy and form blossoms to infinite possibilities layer after layer.
With her space-based nature, the feminine energy is characterised by her capacity for being. Her growth focus is expansion through receiving. The masculine, with his time-based energy, comes into existence through his capacity for doing. His growth focus is progression through pursuing. Like the famous double helix shaped molecule DNA which is universal to all organisms on the planet, the feminine and the masculine dance together for the production, reproduction and evolution of all life on earth.
Contrary to common belief, the being capacity of the feminine is not stationary or motionless, but can be most active and powerful like a dragon’s breath in achieving success. When each is appropriately developed according to its innate nature, the filling-up actions of the feminine will collaborate with the moving-forward actions of the masculine, creating life and beauty beyond imagination. Such collaboration is the only hope for the survival and prosperity of our collective future.
Masculine principles of leadership
This is the creative dimension of leadership, which provides the code and programming for achieving success, such as vision, direction and strategy. It has an innate drive and power to kick off new initiatives and to breakthrough barriers and hurdles. Like a seed in the ground, when it starts germination, nothing can stop its growing, not even a rock on top could submerge its life force. Like new dreams and ideas, it demands attention and pushes forward to be noticed.
Masculine leadership holds the strength to persist with moving forward. For an acorn to grow into a massive oak tree, it must follow its own design code, obey its inner drive, persist on its path (order and timing), and strive toward the sun to expand. Its energy dimension contains the instinct to create beginning, to carve open path, to focus on goals and to achieve results. Its striving instinct is equipped with when, where and how to generate movement effectively and successfully. It has an inbuilt engine to pump limitless strength to initiate, pioneer and innovate changes.
The path of masculine leadership is to work through change and transformation, so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny and comes into full being in harmony with the whole system. Its mode is continuous movement and development, through which things are changed and transformed in due time. Masculine leadership has an intuitive sense of apprehending the way to success and giving actuality to what is possible. To succeed, the masculine must create according to the nature of a given being, but also dare to alter and shape it in harmony to the law and order in a natural system.
Six Stages of Masculine Leadership Development
The development of the masculine is about learning how to best develop his power so that his influence may endure. He must make himself strong and firm in every way, by consciously casting out all that is inferior and degrading. He must consciously limit the scope of his activities so that he attains that tirelessness to further in his chosen field. He needs to see the mysteries of creation inherent in beginning and end, in life and death and in growth and dissolution. He has to understand how these polarising opposites condition one another, and learn to mindfully use the stages of growth to unfold in a clear sequence. Such development enables him to control the forces and ride to heaven.
First Stage - Incubating Power
Like a seed in the ground, it has the code and drive for success, yet exists in a most humble form and hidden position. It is not wise to push forward until the condition, inner and outer, is right. It is not the time to exhibit talents, push for ideas or generate buzz. Doing things prematurely will be done at one’s peril.
At this stage, it is about gathering needed resources, developing skills and capabilities, laying success foundations, and cultivating one’s mental strength. It is about taking the time to collect and distil the power to be ready for a breakthrough.
Most critical for leadership development at this stage is gaining the ability to work hard with no reward in sight, to go the hard yards without appreciation, and to fall and fail again and again only to get up once more drenched in sweat. One minute glory on stage requires 10 years of sweat off stage. It is about learning invisibility, patience, resilience, tolerance and agility, which accumulates inner power to get ready for outer glory.
Second Stage - Seeking Sponsorship
Talent is developed but often not recognised, due to its lower, invisible or unfavourable position. Rather than gathering all resources to proceed, it is better to wait to grab the right opportunity to change one’s position. The ability to seek sponsorship proactively is critical before proceeding to engaging actions for change. One needs to watch out with keen insight to seek, spot and secure important sponsors in order to change the current position.
At this stage, it is about being alert and strategic not just working hard. It is about focusing on finding ways to change one’s position through securing sponsorship. The sponsorship could come from people in higher or more favourable positions, or changes shaped by current events or new policies.
Most critical for leadership development at this stage is having an open, innovative and strategic mind, networking for alliances and sponsorships and persisting with the discipline of consistent messaging and behaviour. Spot the wave of opportunities and have the courage to ride it. Then there is the enjoyment of half efforts, double rewards. This is about learning to think outside the box, to focus on securing sponsorship, to have the patience to tolerate the current situation, and to have the courage to grab new opportunity for change.
Third Stage - Managing Setbacks
Large trees will attract massive winds. For leaders of high ranks, their positions are often not supported by their actual power. This situation therefore creates vulnerability. They often have to manage both upwards and downwards with clarity and mindfulness to not fall into traps set by opponents. If they cause mistrust or jealousy from above or discontentment or fear from below, setbacks or even disasters will appear.
At this stage, it is about carrying integrity in all behaviours, being diligent and thorough in every endeavour, and acting with confidence and consistency without failure. It is also about securing time and space for careful review and planning – analysing all factors and designing every step.
Most critical for leadership development at this stage is about learning the value of caution and managing one’s emotion. It is about developing self knowledge and the knowledge of others, cultivating a practice of self reflection and examination and guarding against one’s weakness and fallibility. It is about managing the masculine ego, learning to swallow pride and managing setbacks with grace.
Fourth Stage – Choosing at a Crossroads
Accompanying a king is like walking with a tiger, this is to warn leaders at top positions. Such positions are often about millions of people yet under one. It is not a place to rest or a place to stay confused, but a critical point to make a decisive move, either leaping above or diving below. Leaping above is about taking decisive rulership, diving below is about retiring (either leaving positions of leadership or returning to the first stage of incubating power). A choice must be made; otherwise fatal disasters will come by staying put, especially if one is highly ambitious or talented.
At this stage, it is simply about making a radical choice of leaping or retiring, there is no middle way, no compromise to be made. If the decision is leaping forward, one must put in all intent and follow through with all might. One must use inspiring communication to take time to gather momentum and bear the risk of advancement. Most people at this position choose retiring as it is a safer, easier place carried with the blessing of the king without need for jealousy or second guessing.
Most critical for leadership development at this stage is about having the ability to objectively assess self and surroundings, accurately evaluate power dynamics and decisively choose courses of actions without ever turning back. It is about being authentic to one’s true self, obeying one’s most inner calling, and stepping onto a path of one’s fate with no regret.
Fifth Stage - Winged Rulership
There is talent above talent, king over king, sky beyond sky. This is the peak moment of leadership, where one is at the top with widely recognisable fame and power. Such a leader, if able to stay humble and alert as well as dish credits out above and below, shall have a ripening opportunity to dramatically increase his circle of influence and power base for common good. If he could tap into the imagination of the mass and the power of the collective, he can spread his wings tenfold wider and take off to unimaginable heights of success. Such rulership is history making.
At this stage, it is about a big picture vision and system stewardship. It is about co-creating with the big picture. It is about spiritual sharpness to work with synchronicity.
Most critical to leadership development at this stage is about having humility in success, giving credit to others, mentoring succession pipeline, inspiring vision for common good and focusing on collective benefits. It is about holding expansive vision, co-creating with universal forces, surrendering to spiritual calling and leading with wisdom.
Sixth Stage - Balancing Act against Masculine Overdrive
An eagle flying too high shall find no branch to rest on. When the masculine develops and matures, one could get into unhealthy habits of pushing ahead without rest at all cost. Not only will this deplete the power of the masculine, but also it will induce events of significant regret. This is about falling into a perpetual movement of only advancing with no exit, only forwards not backwards, only winning not losing. Such a one directional force shall hit its own limit, and get trapped by its own force with no way out when it becomes too late.
At this stage, it is about alternating movement with rest, action with planning, advancement with caution. It is about seeking out the feminine inside to balance oneself, and not push things over limits. When movement peaks at its height, prosperity reaches beyond joy, there is a natural downward force coming in to balance. One must work with this force, adjust one’s position for new balance, rather than fighting against and being swallowed up by it.
Most critical for leadership development at this stage is about learning to work with energy, and adjusting self to go with inevitable trends of falling. Like King Lear, the situation is embedded and his downfall shall come sooner or later. He could not avoid giving up his kingship, yet he could plan better about his options of retreating as well as his choices of new stewardship.
Masculine Leadership Mastery
The six stages of masculine leadership stand in a continuous relationship, opening up in order and unfolding a process of creation. In his own time, when the masculine leader masters all six stages, there comes the possibility of integrating the masculine as a whole in leadership. He may rule firm and strong, moderate and correct, without rulership, like a group of eagles soaring upwards with no head in charge.
There is no need for a leader with such a group, as each knows its own potential and path, and strives for its own best to fulfill its role in the group. New power is generating and new success created with sustainability, as the whole is bigger than the sum of its part, and no one is restricted to reach for his very best. This is called actionless management and leaderless leadership.
The masculine energy is fundamentally individually based with an unstoppable drive for advancement even at one’s peril. Rather than controlling it, a wise leader works with his best people, let them roam free and harvest collective best through coaching and mentoring with no agenda and attachment. It is designed with in-built sustainability.
Any other design of rulership will work against the masculine nature, therefore fundamentally be flawed and unsustainable. To be the head of a group of strong alpha males, one is faced with two options. First is to be stronger (often the case if elected), and use force to rule when there are conflicts and in-fights among the group. This choice shall of course result in some feeling that they are being treated unfairly and may harbour resentment. Second is to be nicer, to rule with persuasion and mediation when conflicts arises. This choice shall be seen as weak by some and therefore could not get the desired cooperation or even induce rebellious behaviours.
The sustainable way is to rule without rulership, but to build a system of self-ruling for collective wins. The system shall be values based with inspiring vision and mission, have clearly defined roles and processes yet support and reward each to continuously strive and expand. This is still leadership, but invisible, and each takes up leadership appropriately guided by system thinking.
Masculine leadership must be held by four pillars - love, ethical principles, justice and wisdom. When the masculine leadership roots in love and humanness, the leader is most able to rule men for continuous accomplishments in the sphere of authority, as power through fear arouses resistance and works only temporarily. When the leader operates with ethical principles, he can unite people to work together towards a common purpose and shared vision. Ethical principles are formed in a society as a foundation of social life to give the greatest freedom and advantage possible for all. Nothing binds the masses more firmly together than deeply rooted social norms and values which appeal to everyone as worth striving for.
When the leader embodies justice in his character, he is able to bring about harmonious relationships among all people and with the environment. Justice works with ethical principles, to manage individual’s behaviour outside social norms and curtail individual freedom no more than is absolutely necessary for the general welfare of all involved. Masculine leadership must be guided by wisdom, for the creative drive must be aligned with nature and the way of all things to prosper and endure. Wisdom shall direct masculine leadership towards established and enduring paths that are in accordance with the immutable universal laws, which guarantees success.
Only when held strong by these four pillars, the masculine leadership can come into its full potential. It will shed its brittle rigidity and flow like passing clouds and moving rain, under which all beings blossom into their true forms and the world shall be moistened with prosperity and peace.
Female Principles of Leadership
This is the receptive dimension of leadership, which produces success through providing its essential conditions, such as values, structure and execution process. It holds the capacity to actualise ideas, digest failures and foster diversity. With its root character as compassion, feminine leadership carries the innate qualities of kindness, tenderness, caring, loyalty, commitment, tolerance, forgiveness, empathy, and humility.
Feminine leadership is about galvanising committed followership. It shies away from frontline cheer-leading and prefers to lead from behind. It is guided by intuition, and when resonance is detected with the vision and direction set out by masculine leadership, feminine leadership gets activated to mobilise and engage the mass through its innate qualities. Feminine intuition enables leaders to seek out synergy and collaboration, and identify the pathways to strengthen alliances and to transform resistance.
The power of feminine leadership lies in its stillness, and in stillness, the depth and breadth of one’s being extend to all directions. With the extending fullness of leadership being, all things emerge out of their innate potentiality and are nurtured to their own fullness without exception. The breadth of character of both leaders and followers are built in the process. Successes are carried forward and possibilities realised, and there is no limit to what can be achieved in such an unfolding process.
Feminine leadership holds no agenda of its own, but chooses to follow the vision and direction of the masculine for the common good of all involved. It acts in such a way through thick and thin, with boundless loyalty, devotion and perseverance. Success is not pursued but a natural output of the feminine resonating with and yielding to the masculine to complete each other in harmony. It produces success beyond measurement.
Feminine leadership is guided more by intuition than logic to sense resonance in what to follow and yield to. It is not outcome driven but values based, which provides an enduring foundation to carry forward initiatives of any kind. It is strong, swift yet gentle and devoted, like a tireless horse roaming across the vast expense of the earth without bound - yielding, devoted and furthering through perseverance to carry forward enduring success. It nourishes all living things, giving them beauty and splendour and therefore offering an unstoppable momentum to the followers. It mobilises power in time of toil and effort, and rejuvenates energy in times of solitude and planning.
The success of feminine leadership is not shown in itself and cannot be measured by the act of itself, but in the success of its offspring whom it embraces and nourishes. It provides the inductive and enduring condition, through its inner strength, its weight of character and its breadth of view, for others to succeed.
Six Dimensions of Feminine Leadership Development
Masculine leadership are developed through the progression of time, while feminine leadership through the extension of space. Unlike the six stages of masculine leadership development which have a progressive relationship with each other, the six aspects stand side by side as qualities without interrelation. Each quality aspect represents a separate dimension indicating juxtaposition, and together they solidify the space for creativity to flourish. The development of feminine leadership is learning to discover one’s innate feminine qualities and to practice such qualities in the context of leadership to strengthen its sharpness and application value.
First Dimension – Alert Foresight
The scope of the feminine vision is broader and further than that of the masculine (sharper but shorter), with a keen attention to notice details and rhythms. It has the capacity to notice the beginning signs and early warnings of decay, dissolution and destruction. The feminine possesses an underlying watchful alertness that is at work all the time and has the natural ability to see the movement and timeline from hoarfrost to solid ice. It intuitively senses disorder and disaster in formation and knows how to step in to correct the course.
This dimension of the feminine leadership is about the ability to spot issues and challenges at the onset, to construct preventative processes and actions to dissolve adversity, and to mindfully manage the process of change to keep things on track. It is often misconceived as emotional exaggeration, over caution and unnecessary fuss. This quality can be easily dismissed at the onset of danger at the expanse of one’s peril later.
Second Dimension – Right Way
The nature of the feminine, when not covered and suppressed, holds the right way for being and doing with integrity and consistency. It has no purpose, yielding to the right way in compliance with the laws of nature to further others. It calmly adapts in movement to obey and nurture the potential in others. Each kind of living being has a fixed law of existence, according to which it develops in a way that is unchanging. Therefore the feminine needs no purpose of its own, so that everything can become what it should rightly be unhindered. This is the right way that the feminine yields to when placed in its own rightful position, and from this position, it shines with unlimited greatness through others with no discrimination.
This dimension of the feminine leadership is about cultivating one’s inner character with full integrity so that this outer behaviour carries no doubt whatsoever as to what one has to do to further and fulfil all others. Through such consistent behaviours, character develops richly of itself, greatness comes unsought of its own accord. Decisions made with this quality are free of doubts, which lame the power of the decisions and are corrosive to effective execution. Through its right way, potential in others are realised equally without special intention, and diversity flourishes without initiatives.
Third Dimension – Silent Perseverance
The feminine is assured of its own inner beauty and quietly persists its right way through rain or shine. It is free of vanity and is able to conceal its talents and abilities from attracting attention prematurely. In favourable conditions, it comes forward with restraint, seeks no merit for accomplishment but gladly leaves fame to others. It persists to work with active forces with perseverance on matters that bear fruit for the future. It is the way of the earth to make no display of completed work but rather to bring everything to completion vicariously.
This dimension of leadership is about leading with perseverance and confidence in time of adversity and disorder. Its quality is further developed and strengthened through these testing times. It is about patience to wait for the right timing to proceed, as well as the diligence to carry out one’s duty persistently and quietly.
Fourth Dimension – Wise Concealment
The resting place for the feminine is a close up state, either in solitude or in the turmoil of the world. The strictest reticence is practised here to deflate forces and dangers coming its way. Any degree of prominence will lead either to irresistible hostility from opposition if one chooses to challenge, or to misconceived recognition from dominating forces if it is complaisant. Misconceived recognition may shelter one from immediate dangers in the short term but will lead to corrosion of one’s integrity sooner or later. The only way to preserve the right way and keep one’s integrity intact is to retreat into one’s inner self, zip up one’s lips tightly, and observe changes from a safe distance. It is the wisdom of not meeting with the dark forces but to walk away quietly without glory or disaster. In retreat, one rests, rejuvenates and preserves energy for times of great opening.
This dimension of leadership is about the wisdom to assess situations strategically in time of crisis, the courage to swallow one’s pride to benefit the big picture, and the ability to work away from opposition without diminishing one’s integrity. It is about contracting, preserving and conserving for the common good, and requires deep self knowledge and belief in the individual being as well as tremendous trust and faith in the collective forces.
Fifth Dimension – Flow in Service
The original nature of the feminine is its capacity to hold, nurture and serve with tenderness. The middle way (all holding, all balancing, and all paradoxical) is the path of the feminine, and such paths bring out the inner character of moderation, which has an outer effect to imbue all forms of expression with reason. This dimension is about the boundless service of the feminine in its right place to all beings with seriousness, conscience and modesty. The service to others flows out of the cultivation of the feminine character of right way, which is the perfection of beauty. The beauty is within, but it flows naturally to nurture all limbs and expresses itself in one’s work. It is the most tender yet strongest foundation for success.
This dimension of the feminine leadership is about being one’s original self, and through the depth of one’s characters and qualities, successes are created and carried forward effortlessly through others with ever-expanding impact. It is about being reliable and genuine in one’s words and actions. It is about service with humility and reserved grace, and leaders are unseen yet present in all movements and deeds.
Sixth Dimension – Balancing Act against Feminine Overkill
When the feminine is so pervasive that it completely suffocates the masculine, disorder erupts with the masculine acting out in bursts with destruction. The contest rather than the compliment of the two forces are unnatural, causing injuries to all involved. The inflated feminine principle seeks dominance rather than collaboration with the masculine. It casts its own shadow onto the masculine to disown or drive it away, as a result, struggles ensue to restore balance.
This dimension of the feminine leadership is about honouring the masculine as valuable partners and not to dismiss masculine drives as unworthy shadows. It is about rewarding excellence, creativity and competition, as well as promoting equality, consensus and collaboration.
Feminine Leadership Mastery
When each dimension of feminine leadership is discovered, owned and claimed, the space held by the six dimensions is then solidified to carry forward limitless possibilities and successes. Unlike the masculine leadership development through time-based advancement in doing, the feminine leadership development comes to maturity through space-based connection in being.
Applying feminine leadership as a whole is about understanding what is already held in the feminine energy and being fully of one’s natural elements. Like a mirror with a natural capacity to hold an image, it needs no training or development for light reflection, but to be rid of the dust on its surface. Such dusts come from our worldview, belief structures, ideology, parental and cultural programming etc. Often it is not about learning, but unlearning. A space is most able to hold when it is most emptied out.
When the six dimensions of feminine leadership come together, creative forces have no option but to burst forward out of thin air to create endless successes. In the space of its full being, the feminine leadership shall hold fast to what is right for each situation, therefore gain the power of enduring. There is no advancement, yet no retrogression, only furthering through lasting perseverance.
Feminine leadership, when mastered, lasts with timeless impact as it expresses perfectly the nature of space – yielding, devoted, correct, central and invisible – a lasting holder and a most powerful ruler by being nothing but only fully yielding. In its stillness, the feminine leadership becomes inexhaustible and eternal with its impact.
Being yielding and devoted must not exclude strength. In its tenderness lies its strength, in its stillness lies its righteousness and in its yielding lies its power. While the strength of the masculine leadership is like an eagle soaring high in the sky, the strength of the feminine leadership is like a horse tirelessly coursing over the earth. The feminine leadership must possess inner strength, weight of character and breadth of view, so that it may endure the outer world without being swayed by it and further all beings under all circumstances through perseverance without bound.
Whole System Leadership
Both the masculine and the feminine exist in every human being, giving the possibility of resonance and understanding between genders. Each individual may choose to further develop their masculine side as well as their feminine side, indeed such development is a necessity for our maturity and evolution. Yet men and women are not created equal, they are born with their natural differences and each is gifted with their unique gender power. To accept and embrace our differences will enable us to activate our strengths and unique abilities, leverage our natural power and gifts, and collaborate for the benefits of a whole system.
While the masculine leadership represents the generating principle, to which all successes owe their beginning, the feminine leadership takes in the seeds, brings them to birth and gives forms and outcomes. Each is dependent on the other to create successes, yet with its unique purpose and functions – the masculine moves and the feminine completes. When in collaboration with the masculine leadership, the feminine leadership rises to its natural greatness – it embraces everything in its breadth, illuminates everything in its depth and brings about successes for all individual beings. The feminine leadership could not be measured by its own success, but shows itself in the success of others by causing them to thrive and unfold. Developing and measuring feminine leaders to the standard of masculine leaders would be a fatal mistake at the cost of effectiveness and success for an entity.
For leaders of human affairs, either men or women, it is essential that they develop their masculine leadership skills as well as their feminine leadership skills, so that they can balance their leadership impact and choose what is appropriate for each situation. This does not mean leaders do not need to leverage their own unique gender strength, indeed the first step for a woman is to develop her feminine leadership and a man his masculine leadership, so that the natural gifts of gender energy could be easily harvested and shall not be turned into one’s shadow of denials, as in some cases with women leaders in today’s patriarchal world.
We cannot afford to stay with the leadership situation we have today, which is largely characterised by immature masculine leadership and absence of feminine leadership. Most senior leadership positions in the world, across every sector and nation, are occupied by men alone, and can benefit greatly from simply having more women in the mix. Yet the gender ratio itself does not guarantee a productive balance of the masculine leadership and feminine leadership. Developing maturity in both is most critical and urgent, not only for gender diversity but also for the survival of humanity.
Visionary leadership; what is being asked of us?
Humanity is facing an unprecedented crisis which we share together with all life forms on this planet, and we are at the cross roads of mass extinction or mass evolution. This crisis is pregnant with the greatest possibility for humanity to breakthrough and to transform. The continuation of our civilisations and the future happiness of our children, depend on how we are, and what we do today.
As a tender mother, a nature lover and consciousness leader, I hold boundless compassion and hope for our collective future. This is the most exciting time ever to be alive… the decisions we make collectively in the next decade will seed the future of humanity. I knew this when I was 4 years old roaming among the mud houses in Inner Mongolia. My grandmother would say to me: “Girl, get ready to ride your red dragon…”
I believe we are being asked to remember who we really are, to question why we live and work the way we do, and to envision what is possible for us to yet become. We are asked to awake to our true potential, to evolve our consciousness, and to collaborate with nature. A critical step in our evolution is to shift our focus from a domination consciousness to a collaboration consciousness. We must learn to rein in our competitive drive to control, conquer and own, and learn to prosper from harvesting the diversity of humanity and creative forces. We must balance our doing with our being, quantity with quality, consumption with sustainability, technology with wisdom, competition with collaboration and hierarchy with self-responsibility.
Never before in human history has the leadership of human affairs more critical than it is now. Our future rests on our leadership capacity to find balance. To balance is to follow with our intuitive nature, to be agile with our identity and to become one with others. It is learning to flow like water. Water becomes square when it flows around a square, or circular when around a circle. Water avoids high, chooses low and moves with gravity. Water washes away dirt, evaporates self and leaves behind green pastures. Water drips through stone, carves open mountains and never turns back. Such is the nature of our wisdom and compassion, the most critical area of leadership development.
In developing ourselves so, we learn to be aligned with nature, to be in our flow zone, and to work with rather than against our humanity. Our creativity will blossom like a thousand flowers and we shall leave behind an amazing planet for our children to discover who they really are, and what is possible for them to become. This is the essence of who we are, how we service our clients and what we do to help leaders and organisations grow, transform and achieve their best.
Such is our vision for excellence, and how we will continue to make a difference in the next decade. We invite you to collaborate with us for visionary leadership.