01 Aug How to practice feminine energy in your leadership – Collective
One of the most frustrating things leaders talk about is how much political game playing happens the further up the ranks they go. It’s almost as if our self-focus has to increase the higher up we go so that we survive. And yet this is completely contradictory to the job we need to do as we get more senior. As we have more and more people reporting into us, it becomes even more critical that we are focused on the greater good, rather than the needs of the individual.
One brilliant question I heard recently was ‘Do you scheme or do you serve?’ If as a leader your time is spent mostly scheming then I’d suggest that the culture you are working in is self-serving and works against the collective good. But I would also add, that you’re a leader. That means you have accountability and a responsibility to impact that culture in a positive way, rather than play into it. So how are you going to do that?
How do we serve the Collective good?
Firstly, you need a strong purpose. Even if your organisation is missing one. Regardless of where I worked I always felt strongly about the need to shine the light on the people around me and how I could help elevate them. It didn’t matter what industry, what role, what organisation, that has always been my purpose. If I happened to be in a toxic environment and I couldn’t impact it directly, I always fell back to this as my purpose and saw it as an opportunity to make a difference. In this way I had a strong core that always served the collective. As a leader, have a think about what this is for you.
Sometime we are in challenging situations, where those around you prefer to scheme. In that moment ask yourself, ‘What would I love do right now?’ Yes, it’s a weird one, but it interrupts our usual patterns of thinking and can help us see a service outcome.
To support this, look at the goals of the organisation or the team. Are they aligned and focused on what you achieve together? And do you celebrate the wins of the team, or just those of the individual? All of this gives signposts to the organisation about what behaviour is actually valued.
Do you take things personally?
The next thing to practice is not to take things personally. Every time you take something personally you are serving yourself. Always. I used to have a colleague that would make everything about her. And it wasn’t done in a dramatic ‘look at me’ way. It was more insidious. If something went wrong in her role, her first thoughts (& words!) were ‘I’m obviously not doing this right / I’m not good enough at it / It’s my fault’. Now I’m all for people taking accountability, but this constant response stopped or delayed conversations about what was actually going wrong e.g. what systems / processes / gaps had we missed. She needed to make it about her, so whilst receiving the validation that she was actually OK boosted her personally, this , her ‘fear of not being good enough’ actually hindered the conversation about collectively and actively addressing what needed to be fixed on a wider level.
Do you use feedback to protect your culture?
And lastly think about feedback discussions – sometimes avoided as the ‘hard conversations’ – as contributing to the culture rather than dealing with an individual. Many times these discussions are seen as something difficult to do with an individual person but if we rethink feedback and performance discussions as part of upholding the collective culture, it changes our mindset and approach. As a leader you want a culture where people thrive and do their best work, so if there is something that threatens this, you need to take action. Feedback when done in this fashion is serving the collective. And if in doubt about giving feedback on a particular behaviour, ask yourself ‘What would happen if everyone did this all of the time?’
Of course, this works the other way too – there’s often positive behaviour that you do want everyone to do all of the time! And that would be cause for recognition and celebration!
This blog is the third in the series where we explore the 5Cs of feminine energy in leadership – Collaboration, Care, Creativity, Change, Collective. In my complimentary eBook I describe each one and how to practice (available here, along with a video of me introducing feminine energy in leadership). You can read about more about Collaboration here and Care here.