Two female leaders who exemplify this for me are Jacinda Arden and Kamala Harris.
In her BBC interview in 2018, Jacinda Arden said:
“I have made a very deliberate decision that in the Westminster style of politics that we have in New Zealand which is very adversarial…. I have always said that it takes courage and strength to be empathetic and I am very proudly an empathetic, compassionately driven politician. I am trying to chart a different path and it will attract critics but I can only be true to myself and the form of leadership I believe in.”
She has often said that she refuses to believe that you cannot be compassionate and strong. The feminine and masculine qualities are what she embraces with congruency.
Jacinda Arden chooses to challenge the status quo and pushes boundaries to a new form of government. After her landslide victory in October 2020, she chose the most diverse cabinet in New Zealand’s history. Out of the twenty members, eight are women, five are indigenous Māori, three are Pasifika and three are LGBTQIA+. This new way of leading a country brings different perspectives so that problems can be addressed and resolved in an inclusive, democratic, and authentic way. She describes leadership as not being the “loudest in the room” but as a “bridge that builds consensus in the discussion.”
Kamala Harris broke the glass ceiling as the first Black and Asian woman to become the Vice-President of the United States. She was clear that this role was about service, opening doors, and creating new possibilities that would enable girls and women to dream big and believe in a future where equality, liberty, and justice are available for all. In her Victory speech she made it clear that while she may be the first woman in this office, she will not be the last “because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Kamala Harris is not afraid of challenging the Patriarchal Leadership of today. In her Democratic National Convention in 2020, she laid out her people–centred vision – “a vision of our nation as a beloved community – where all are welcome… where everyone can see themselves reflected in it”.
The feminine is needed not because it trumps the masculine, but because it has been the missing partner of Embodied Leadership.
So how can women and men access more of their masculine and feminine leadership style? How can men support women to take their space so that together we can build a world of gender equality and inclusivity?