Claudia's Radical (Self) Leadership Blog

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Female Leadership Is Better. Not Only For (Most) Women.

alignment empowerment feminine leadership group coaching leadership Apr 05, 2022

Wow, what a statement! And is it even true?

Right – let’s clarify a few things upfront:

  1. I love and appreciate men. I enjoy working with them. I admire their wit, logic and clear-mindedness. And I don’t believe in a dividing line between men and women or masculine and feminine nor do I judge the one or the other as being “worse” or “better” (despite what the headline says ;-)).
  2. I believe in the social, economic and political equality of men and women. This is NOT what this article is about though. It’s not even about gender.

So what IS this article about?

In a way about my journey. As a leader AND woman.

How I arrived where I am now and the learning and epiphanies on the way.

How is this relevant for you?

  • If you’re a woman in business it is.
  • If you’re a woman in a leadership position even more.
  • And if – on top - you have kids, and you feel that you always have to be strong and you’re exhausted often, PLEASE read on. I promise there is something in for you.
  • If you’re a man and you’re interested in supporting women on their leadership journey, please read on too. I’d love to have you with us!
  • And if you’re a man or a woman in a top position and you want more capable women in leadership roles in your organisation – this definitely supports your case.

How it all started

My former corporate career was mainly spent in the male-dominated IT industry which is still largely male-dominated.

I started out as an assistant to a product manager in my early 20s and worked my way up to the executive board as, big surprise, the only woman. During my career, I got married, had two children, became the breadwinner for the family and eventually a single mother. And, when things got tricky and the business didn't work as it was supposed to, I was the first one to be let go.

Afterwards, I decided to run my own business instead of going back to the corporate world.

That was more than a decade ago, and many things have changed, others haven’t though. It’s no surprise, however, that there are still far fewer women in leadership roles than men and that we live and work in a very male-driven business and power system (More on that in a follow-up article – watch that space).

A couple of years ago, I transitioned from being a partner in an IT publishing company to forming my own coaching and training business for personal leadership.

Sounds like a great career, right? And yes, I was pretty proud of what I had achieved.

Ah – she has it all, some people said. She’s always strong and pushes through whatever life’s throwing at her.

I did.

On the outside all looked wonderful: A “Doer”, making things happen, having two thriving children, financially stable, living in a great place, driving a nice car, having a horse in the stable.

 And it was f*cking exhausting.

Inside there were many struggles. 

More often than not I felt overwhelmed as  - of course – I did it all by myself (after all I’m an independent woman), torn between obligations and feeling terribly guilty when I missed out on school functions. Not to mention my partner at the time who was somewhere down pretty low on the priority list. I even said at some point: I don’t have time for a man in my life.

The decision, part 1

So, fast forward, while listening to “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown on a five-hour drive from Geneva to Munich some years ago, I had a sudden epiphany.

I want to work with and empower women!

 It felt right. It felt good…until my brain interfered.

"Ah, Claudia, this is so cliché. Everyone seems to think that women need extra support to advance. And these women network groups are popping up everywhere. Do you really want to be one of those? Besides that, you like working with men! Why limit yourself?"

I gave in to those doubts, developed my framework and started addressing both men and women.

It worked perfectly well.

Besides, I'd been watching the divide in the marketplace for years. Many coaches and trainers were supporting women only, and I never liked the idea for some reason.

As a woman, I refused to split the world into female and male camps, not in my professional life and certainly not in my private life.

 The decision, part 2

Now, after a process of almost three years (some decisions DO take a long time if we ignore our inner voice), I've finally decided to listen to what my heart told me long ago and have shifted my focus towards supporting women. Mainly those who are in leadership positions and have kids.

As I was in this role and simply know what it means to have this “factor” (sorry kids) in our life.

To be precise, I am supporting these women to get unstuck. Even more precise: To get aligned and to get out of this "f*ucking exhausting superwoman game". 

To remove hidden blocks keeping them away from aligning their roles as an authentic leader, whole-hearted parent, fulfilled woman and passionate lover.

It took me YEARS, if not decades to find mine. And it was very painful, exhausting and stressful. There had to be a better way.

The shortcut

And yes, there is. It's a shortcut where I poured all of what I’ve experienced and learned into a process.

It’s NOT about

  • Hustle to having it all
  • Working even more
  • Being perfect or juggling more.
  • And becoming even more efficient and act even more like men.

It is totally about 

  • Acknowledging what different powers and requirements we have as women and learning how to honour them.
  • To bring more ease, lightness and joy in the leadership AND life’s journey.
  • To establish a way towards getting our needs and desires met that is so easy and natural that it’s almost ridiculous.

 Wow, just writing this I feel a sense of relief. Particularly when looking back at my own life and career path, which was so tiring so often - as I simply did not know any better (and trying to please everybody around me!). 

The essence

 If I was to bring it to one point: It’s holding the key to pure empowerment to female leaders to be respected, seen, heard, relaxed, and finding their own unique path towards success on their terms.

And arriving in who they really are - on the level of body, mind and soul.

Finally, being utterly honest with themselves, no denying any part of them, but rather stepping into all of it, getting rid of the various masks that we tend to wear, and which can cause a lot of friction and tension.

One of the most freeing, satisfying, and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had (and the journey continues in case you were wondering).

Back to the beginning...

You might wonder now – SO WHY is female leadership better - not just for women as I claim in the headline?

For me there are 3 reasons:

  1. As women, we can naturally bring different elements into leadership that encourage trust and collaboration. Men can too – as we can ALL tap into the feminine OR masculine parts of us. The ideal is a balance of masculine AND feminine traits and energies - and what that means for each individual woman might differ from case to case. 

  2. As women, we have different requirements than men - from a biological, emotional and psychological point of view. In our male-driven business world, our requirements are often not met and, we might even deny parts of us to fit in and to progress (play the male game). That’s very unhealthy and exhausting.

  3. Our world needs compassion,  communication, and solidarity - all traditionally traits on the feminine spectrum - and historically we live in a world that is dominated by a rather masculine leadership style. I invite all men to consider those feminine traits as well....to get to a balance which could serve us all - without having to give up being a man! 

Shifting into a more female leadership style I found is far more fulfilling AND more successful long-term.

By the way – that does not make men worse leaders generally. I know several men who are fantastic role models and extraordinary human-centric leaders. You know if you're one of them when you read this :-). 

I have simply observed and finally acknowledged in my life that - even if it’s crucial to have the same rights so that we’re all equal, regardless of gender – women and men ARE different.

 Let’s work with that and learn from each other instead of judging and fighting.

 In the end, it’s about having the free choice as a woman:

-           How do I decide to live my life and create my career

-           When do I apply which kind of energy (male/female) and still stay authentic

-           What is MY personal and individual version of success

And – how do I flow with all the above while being a mum, lover, and a successful businesswoman without exhausting myself, and drop the idea of perfection.

So far, I’ve only worked with individuals, but I’m planning on opening a coaching group as we can learn so much from and support each other.

If any of the above resonated on some level with you, I’d like to invite you to get in touch - let’s talk.

 

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