The long anticipated fourth and final piece of Terrie Lupberger’s 3 Keys in Embracing Feminine Leadership. Stop Concluding was the first key, Take Ownership was the second, and to finish it off you must make sure to Embody the Values Important to You.
Think of a time when you knew what you had to do. Let’s say you made a decision to talk to your boss about the unreasonable work demands; you decided to finally have that conversation with your spouse about finances; you decided to ask a big company to support your charity fundraiser. You knew it was the “right” thing to do, you’d been thinking about it for a while, you mustered up your courage, gave yourself a deadline and…you still didn’t do it. Even after making that list of pros and cons and talking it through with your friend, colleague or coach, you didn’t do what you said you would.
Welcome to being human.
You are human so you have a body and it’s what you navigate the world with. Every action and interaction you have includes your body. You may ‘know’ something intellectually, but to actually take action consistent with that, you also have to get your body trained to take the action. This is called embodiment and it is critical to manifesting your full feminine leadership power.
Just like you’ve developed habits in thinking, you’ve also developed habits with your body that impact your ability to get the results you want. If you don’t have the body or physiology to take certain action, it’s going to be difficult to get the results you want. If, for example, you want to make a big request of someone but your body isn’t trained to make powerful requests, then you’ll not only not make the request but you’ll likely make yourself wrong for not doing it. If your body or physiology can’t handle a difficult conversation, then you’ll either avoid the conversation or have it poorly and won’t get the results you want.
Let me give you an example from my own life. I learned at a very early age that we did our ‘laundry’ in the basement, metaphorically speaking. There was what happened at home, behind the four walls, and there was the front you put on for others. There was what you thought and then there was what you said and did and often they weren’t the same. I’d watch my relatives being very polite and pleasant at family gatherings, then criticize those same people on the car ride home. There was little consistency between the public conversation they’d have with others and the private conversation they’d have at home. So, I learned that habit myself.
I spoke based on how I thought others would listen or react, not based on my own truths.
I have to say, that it served me well in many ways. In my early career, I gave others lots of room and opportunity to speak their voice and didn’t take up much air time. I got the work done, never made waves and got promoted a lot.
But this way of being also had a shadow. I had learned to say what I thought others wanted to hear and had, in the process, lost touch with my own needs and desires. I couldn’t hear my own voice much less speak it. It was more important to be liked than to be authentic.
That habit of mine was also embodied. I didn’t have the body to speak my own voice, literally. I’d be all psyched and mentally prepared to say no to a deadline that I couldn’t possibly meet and when the time came for me to say ‘no’, guess what? I’d say yes instead. My head said ‘no’ but what came out of my mouth and my body was a ‘yes’. I had an irrational fear that speaking my mind would ultimately cost me being alone.
Little by little, with the help of the fiercely compassionate women in my life and many wonderful teachers and guides, I learned to give voice to my ideas, doubts, frustrations, fears, challenges and dreams. I had to learn to embody my own beliefs and cares.
You may not have considered this notion of embodiment before. You aren’t alone. It’s only in the last few decades that we are starting to question the long held cultural beliefs of the last 500+ years that the body is separate from the mind. The science and research of the last few decades is slowly disproving this assumption and proving that the body influences our thinking as much as our thinking influences the body. Not only does it influence our thinking but it influences others’ thinking as well.
Imagine you are having a meeting with a colleague to discuss which direction to take on a project. You are angry because they are stubbornly refusing to listen to your well-constructed arguments. It’s very likely that the shape of your body in this conversation will correspond to your mood of anger. Your muscles will be tense and drawn tight. Your breathing will be more shallow than deep. Your focus will be more concentrated. Your movements will be sharper, quicker, and more resolute. If you are sitting down, your body will likely be leaning forward.
Now, imagine having that same conversation with your colleague in a mood of curiosity. Instead of being angry that they refuse to see your point of view, you become wildly curious as to why they are taking the position they are. In your curious mood, it’s likely that your body will be more open and relaxed, your breathing will be deeper, your focus will be more expansive and inclusive and, if you are sitting down, your body will not be leaning forward but will, instead, be leaning back.
Which body do you think your colleague will be more receptive to? Which one might they react to or defend against? Which one has the greater chance of having the impact you want?
So, what’s this got to do with powerful feminine leadership?
If you are going to bring more of the feminine into your leadership style, you’ll have to learn to embody it. If your body doesn’t know how to be with conflict, make unreasonable requests, be irreverent to the status quo, etc., then no amount of will power or reasoning will get you into action. You have to develop your capacity and competence to take action consistent with what matters to you; to learn to act in the face of fear or uncertainty; to face all of what life is presenting …with ease and peace….and that requires embodiment.
Every single waking day you are creating your legacy—you are leaving a footprint of thinking and action that has enormous consequences for the people you work and live with. You are now being called to wake up to your courage, your boundless creativity and the feminine energies of leadership so that you can lead more holistically, effectively and strategically.
While these three key behaviors offered here will support you to lead more effectively, also know that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to transform your leadership alone. Women need each other and we need to fully embrace and support each other in our visions for the future.
That’s why my colleagues and I invite you to attend the Women’s Leadership Summit in Bali 28-30, 2017. It’s an innovative program for women professionals that combine the power of peer support with cutting edge leadership learning and practice so that women learn how to thrive while also generating results that matter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terrie Lupberger is an author, speaker and senior executive coach and advisor to leaders and teams worldwide. Combining her 20+ years of organizational experience and her passion for business and people, she uses innovative change processes to help individuals, especially women leaders, improve the results they get without sacrificing well-being.
Terrie integrates the best of both feminine and masculine approaches to leading since both are necessary to move action forward consistent with what matters most. More of the same is not a strategy to deal with the challenges we’re all facing. Integrating the feminine into leadership produces a different way of engaging with each other that is critically needed and essential.
ABOUT WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
The Women's Leadership Summit is a program engaging and empowering women on their leadership journey. This voyage of inner discovery spanning 3 months will inspire participants in making a meaningful difference - be it in your personal growth, at the workplace, for your family, or towards a better society. Focusing on Success, Sisterhood, and Satisfaction, this summit creates a collaborative environment for women to set bold goals for their professional lives, explore ways to give back, and create personal well-being and satisfaction. The main event will be held in Bali, Indonesia, on 28-30 September 2017.
For more information, visit our Women’s Leadership Summit event website