What if the word “leadership” didn’t conjure images of power and dominance, but instead was more representative of collaboration and caretaking?
Now that would be a mindshift! That’s just one of the ambitious undertakings of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) based in Rhinebeck, New York’s Omega Institute.
In 2012, the OWLC was created to help women overcome obstacles to embracing their power, but also to shift the very definition of the word. Helping women shift from an “adaptive” relationship with power to a “transformative” one they believed was needed, because women had been excluded from power centers like business and finance, and those systems were largely built without their input and they needed to adapt.
Allowing women to transform the power structure so that it equally accommodates men and women in a collaborative way that emphasizes group contributions, non-violent interaction, and personal empowerment is no easy objective.
“The modality of power that many of us grew up with is a dominance model—an up-down model, a win-or-lose model. What we’re seeing more and more is that the old command-and-control leadership model is giving away to connect-and-collaborate,” Goldstein, co-founder of OWLC, says.
This is true in many other countries other than the USA, Australia, New Zealand and many western oriented countries, but also in some of the developing countries also we are evidencing this.
The traditional power structure that values dominance and devalues collaboration, compassion, and emotion is unfair to men, too.
It robs them of a significant portion of the human experience. They’re not allowed to experience, express, or utilize their emotional intelligence.
We need a different concept of leadership and leading, where leaders think about the consequences of their decisions. Instead of emphasizing a “win at all costs” approach to being a leader, what if leaders were encouraged to think about their actions and decisions in the context of what they mean to others.
- When you buy a certain product, what are you doing to the planet, labor force, or community?
- If you know you are hurting others with your actions, how can you rethink your decisions?
This many not be an easy shift, but it’s a necessary one as we move into a world with so much conflict, and ever more levels of complexity.
What if there was a ‘connection’ with others to discuss how women leaders can change the essence of leadership. To do so women—and men—need to develop their inner strength as well as their skills for action in the world. The Dalai Lama believes that it will be women who change the world. He is not alone it seems. Mike Baird, Premier of NSW, Australia, said recently, in congratulating the Diamonds (Australia’s netball team) on their World cup win “if you want a job done, give it to the women”, albeit tongue in cheek.
We have so much wisdom in our body and so much emotional intelligence in our hearts. The Diamonds tapped into that and worked as a collective, not individuals. They knew they were only as good as the whole, and their spirit took them the rest of the way. When we allow for this to occur the spirit is enabled. The human spirit is this vast land of connectivity. Including practices like meditation, yoga, and creative expression in addition to risk-taking and using your emotional courage. Maybe that is all part of developing stronger leaders, who are also more compassionate.
Now that is ‘leadership’.