The message flows from all corners of the world: This is the moment in history when women need to lead the way.
This clarion call isn’t for women-only leadership. Or the well-worn way of ruling from the top.
“Social justice activists and diverse communities are re-imagining and redefining what leadership means and which faces are at the forefront. Late in the 20th century, scholarship emerged describing new leadership as a collective, shared process that evolves with participants and prioritizes relationship-building.”*a
Relationships are at the heart of leadership. Many women have long understood the importance of living within a complex web of family and friends, colleagues and strangers, ancestors and generations yet unborn.
Be Present Inc.’s Black & Female Leadership Initiative,* highlights the “leadership of Black women in partnering with diverse people to create sustainable change that serves everyone in our communities,” where all voices are welcomed.
Twenty years before I first stepped into Be Present trainings, Lillie Allen offered the groundbreaking Black & Female: What is the Reality?® Workshop at the First National Conference on Black Women’s Health Issues. Starting with black women and girls, Be Present’s work now includes everyone.
Be Present says, “Collective leadership occurs when people come together and mobilize resources in ways that improve their communities. It is an intrinsically inclusive approach to leadership because it requires individuals to cross boundaries of all types –such as race, gender, class, age, religion and culture – as they commit to cooperative learning, joint action, shared responsibility and mutual accountability. Competencies include the capacity to develop oneself and to cross many boundaries: those between individuals and groups, those among organizations and those fostered by issues that divide. It also involves challenging assumptions; expanding perspectives from an emphasis on the “I” to accentuating both “I” and “We”; and bringing people together to address conflicts.” *b
Today’s leadership needs to bridge the big topics that have separated the world into “us” and “them.” Instead, it needs to be collective, grounded in the intersection of “I” and “We.”
Now is the moment for humans to honor all of our wisdom—feminine and masculine—and for leaders to serve in a way that benefits us all.
In my latest YouTube exploration (located on my website’s Gender page), I explore how writing Big Topics at Midnight helped me access parts of myself I understand as feminine wisdom—intuition, body knowing and playful creativity. The more I listened inwardly, the more profoundly I woke up to myself and to the world around me. Only then was I ready to step into the fullness of my own leadership within the collective, Nancy Ann Mathys Thurston style.
*Be Present, Inc., Black & Female Leadership Initiative, Overview and Design, January 2013-December 2017.
All quotes are from this Leadership Initiative. The other citations’ reference information are noted in this Initiative:
*a. A Framework for 21st Century Leadership, http://www.joe.org/joe/1995december/a1.php
A Review of Leadership Theory and Competency Frameworks, http://www2.fcsh.unl.pt/docentes/luisrodrigues/textos/Lideran%C3%A7a.pdf
The Holistic Leader: A Developmental Systemic Approach to Leadership, http://www.julieorlovconsulting.com/docs/holistic_leader_article.pdf
*b. The Collective Leadership Framework: A Workbook for Cultivating and Sustaining Community Change, a publication of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (2007), www.iel.org/pubs/collective_leadership_framework_workbook.pdf