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10 Rules for Emerging Women Leaders

This blog was first published on MariaShriver.com

I’m not a fan of war, never have been, never will be.

Ever since I was a little girl war has baffled me. It never made sense to me how anyone could think that war was beneficial.

I saw the destruction of other people and other lands as violence to ourselves. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can change our world to one with more humanity, kindness and peace.

It’s no secret that women leaders are in demand today. We’ve been watching the old systems and old guard of leadership be dismantled through the exposure of corruption and greed.

We’ve been watching the old systems crack one by one in the economic, political, and spiritual arenas.

The exciting thing about this is that we as women are very much in a position to be the leaders to change things.

I have been attending a lot of events over the past five years where I’m experiencing a feminine power surge.

We are rising together, supporting each other and using our voices to lead the change. Can you feel the power in this?

While women used to think that they needed to emulate men to rise into leadership positions, today the story is different. And while we used to think that we needed to deny our feminine nature in order to make it in a “man’s world,” this is also no longer the case.

The path to power is changing.

Take Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s president and the first democratically elected woman to govern an African nation. When asked in an interview with The New York Times a few years ago if women ran the world, would wars still exist? She responded: “No. It would be a better, safer and more productive world. A woman would bring an extra dimension to that task – and that’s a sensitivity to humankind. It comes from being a mother.”

Since becoming president in 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has stabilized Liberia’s economy, restored order after the chaos of the civil war, and instituted compulsory free education. She says that being a mother of four has made her a better leader.

I believe the world is ready for feminine leadership and that women leaders are the solution to the world’s ills.

I also believe that when women and men share in leadership, we create the possibility of an energetic balance between the feminine and the masculine, which I believe will ultimately create the circumstances for global peace.

As Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote in her controversial article in The Atlantic last month: “Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone.”

But how do we do this?

I’ve got some ideas…here are 10 Rules for Emerging Women Leaders:

1) Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead. You are already a leader. If you need someone’s permission, make it your own.

2) Lead from the level of your soul. Your soul has a calling. Some of your may be clear about yours already. Others may still be in process. As a feminine leader, it is crucial that you lead from the root of this calling, which is your soul. This will enable you to reach those who really need you and your flow into leadership will be much more natural.

3) Listen to your inner voice. What is it telling you? Your inner voice is your leadership compass. It tells you where to go next (and where not to go). Listen to it. This will make decision-making so much easier and leave you the energy to lead with grace.

4) Commit to a practice. As a feminine leader, it is important to consistently connect with the universal nature of life. This is what will keep you inspired, compassionate and at ease in your leadership. Whether you choose to practice yoga, meditation, walking, painting, music-making, or some other form of meditative practice, be consistent with it. Without it, things can run amuck.

5) Make pleasure a priority. As women, pleasure is our juice. It’s what keeps our engines roaring. If you skip out on pleasure, you tend to run dry (on ideas, on energy, and basic life force.) As a result, your work in the world suffers. What brings you pleasure? Make a list and make sure to include a pleasure activity in your life every single day. Even better…lead your day with it.

6) Let your light shine. Remember the children’s song “This Little Light of Mine”? Well, the reality is that you have a BIG LIGHT. As girls and young women, many of us were taught to not outshine others. Well, that day is over. If you’ve been playing humble, shy or reserved, it’s time to open up and shine out who you really are … and be loud and proud of it! Holding back your light doesn’t do anyone any favors. So, bring it on!

7) Celebrate other women. If we don’t celebrate each other, who is going to? We’ve seen how the leadership of the past has treated women … with disrespect, disregard, oppression, exploitation and in some cases, out and out brutality. I believe a key aspect to our planet’s healing will come from women celebrating and supporting one another. The more we do this, the sooner we will experience peace on earth.

8) Sit in circles. Jean Shinoba Bolen, M.D., writes in her book The Millionth Circle about how when enough women gather in circles we will create a worldwide healing force by bringing feminine values of relationship, nurturing and interdependency into our global culture which currently values hierarchy, conflict, competition, power over others, and exploitation of the earth’s resources. I agree with this theory. Gather with other women in circles. Sit. Talk. Listen. Witness and watch the magic unfold.

9) Call other women into leadership. As you become empowered, empower other women (and girls). We need to mentor each other. It has been proven that when women and girls are empowered into leadership, the standard of living of the community improves, including reduced poverty, improved health care, and better education. We need to support and encourage each other into leadership. In some situations, a woman stepping out as a leader can be dangerous. Let’s build a network of safety for every woman to live her truth.

10) Have faith and trust in your path. While this can be one of the most challenging “rules” on this list, it is essential. Having faith in your dharma is what will keep you going every day. It will help you meet the challenges that come your way and will take you to the ultimate potential of your life’s work as a leader. Do whatever you need to do to surrender to the flow of your life’s purpose. This could include prayer, meditation, silence, stillness, or any other type of spiritual practice. Trust that you are being guided and taken care of as you walk your path of leadership.

When I was a little girl, I developed a model of leadership centered around being smart, being athletic, and in short, being a tomboy.

More recently, I realized how I only had part of the story. Now as a woman, I’ve added a new and far more powerful feminine dimension to my concept of leadership.

It draws upon my intuitive nature, a deep trust in the power of women, and the support of a sisterhood circling together to change the world.

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Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed. is a women’s leadership expert, writer and writing coach who helps women discover their voice and develop their leadership platform. Tabby is the author of The Goddess Diaries blog and is regular contributor to The Huffington Post on the empowerment and human rights of women and girls. Her work has been featured by The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, UN Dispatch, NPR, among other national and international media. Visit tabbybiddle.com to get free resources to increase the power and influence of your voice.

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