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It’s about time we learned how to lead loudly.
No, I am not talking about tweeting angrily at 3 a.m.
I am talking about the need for a new type of leadership, one that is more subtle than the traditional “leader” archetype our society has upheld for millennia.
I am talking about how we can find the inner leader within each of ourselves, and then crank up the volume on that wise authority.
As humanity has evolved from nomadic foraging communities—among which feminine power was revered—to tribes, empires, kingdoms, and the industrial wave, the idea that leading involves dominating others, aggression, fighting back, and winning has continued. That helped us to survive and get to where we are now.
But where we are now is starting to show us that this “hypermasculine” leader archetype is not what the world most needs. The story must be rewritten. We need a new type of leader.
I do not necessarily mean women must “rule” over men, but the scales must return to a place of balance. Rather than devaluing or idealizing one type of gender identity or expression, we must grow to value the traditionally feminine essences of compassion, listening, nurturing, and seeing the collective humanity—and our Mother Earth—as one family.
I, like many of us, had been unfortunately hands-off when it came to keeping up with politics, before the most recent presidential election. It was only recently that I happened to watch a video of the presidential candidate debates that took place before this election. While I was not surprised by the dynamics I witnessed, I realized that Donald Trump displayed what I now recognize as historically accepted—even praised—“leader” behavior.
Setting aside any political agenda, I observed Trump being, well, loud. Again, no surprises here, right? However, he wasn’t just loud, but he also was overbearing, rude, and, frankly, kind of a bully. All in the name of winning and showing power. While this isn’t necessarily new information for us—especially in a political context—it is something we can learn from and with which we can do something.
Growing up, I never felt I could ever be a leader, in terms of what society showed me defined leaders throughout history. While I am not referring to racial and gender identity here, those factors have influenced this belief, as I am a woman of color.
What I am getting at is that I was—and in many ways still am—a quiet, introverted soul. I did well throughout school and made friends well enough, but I consistently got the same feedback from teachers, from elementary through graduate school: “Suzan has such great ideas, but she tends to be quiet and not share openly in class.”
This “but” implied a personality flaw. In some cases, I lost “points” for not actively participating in class discussions. Thus, I learned that I am too quiet to be that successful, let alone do any leading. I mean, I hated public speaking and doing any assignments involving presenting to others, so it made sense to me to let the kids who loved that do the leading; I would stick to the familiar role of following.
The trouble with that perspective is, when we decide to let others lead because they talk more and “beat you” to the answer, we give up our voice. We give up our power to disagree with the status quo. And gradually, we start to lose belief in the idea that we have anything valuable to offer anyway.
So, here I am, learning to lead more loudly than usual. Stretching my comfort edges just a little bit at a time. Posting to Elephant Journal for the first time and sharing my beliefs and intuitive wisdom, risking the possibility that it affects no one and nothing significant changes in the world.
It is my response to an inner stirring, and it is the beginning of my process of learning to lead—whatever that looks like to me. It may look similar or different from your method of leadership. The common thread is that we practice reclaiming our voice and, thus, our power.
What I propose is redefining what it means to live and lead loudly. We don’t need to yell or wave our arms or put others down to get our messages across, to be taken seriously, to be heard and seen. Those behaviors come from somewhere, and if you feel the need to act out to connect to a sense of power, please look at that sh*t, get support, journal, cry, find a therapist, and honor your anger and wounds around being seen and heard.
But we have got to stop projecting these wounds on one another, and we have got to stop electing leaders who engage in these emotionally immature tactics as a way to gain power and “win.” We can always find flaws with any candidate—we’re human and learning—but at the very least, let’s prioritize those who have committed to self-awareness, compassion, authenticity, and the greater good above their own ego needs.
Perhaps one day the format for choosing our nation’s leaders will shift from a competitive debate that inherently supports those who are loudest and most dominating in the traditional sense, into a thoughtful, thorough, and balanced process. I mean, Miss America pageants give each contestant time to answer questions about world peace individually, so why shouldn’t we provide this type of focused interview to the person who will ultimately hold the highest authority over our nation and the world?
The world needs you to soften, to heal, and to be vulnerable. It requires you to connect, to go within, and to learn to welcome this dance, to value it above competing and winning and “proving” something.
The world desperately needs as many of us as possible to wake up, listen carefully to our inner compass, embrace our gifts, and to use those gifts to lead—from the smallest to the most significant of ways.
Even if you use your voice to share your perspective with one person who might be encouraged to expand their awareness from that act, you have begun to lead others loudly—no angry tweeting required.