One leader at the top, one best way to lead. This is how many of us were introduced to the concept of leadership. And this is the approach to leadership upon which many organizations and societies have been built. We have seen the unfortunate result of elevating – even worshiping in vain – particular individuals or ways of leading while excluding others. The dominant concepts of leaders and leadership are, well, dominant. They prefer hierarchy to networks, control to connection, and objects to subjects.
Feminist leadership isn’t about replacing one type of leader or leadership style with another to create new dominant forms. It is about challenging the norms and expectations of society while also sparking new possibilities to create a world where everyone is free to be the most authentic and complete versions of themselves without causing harm to others. Feminist leadership is much more than working toward gender equality in the workplace or in society. It embodies a philosophy of respect, shared power, and self-determination for all genders.
Feminist leadership recognizes and celebrates that there are multiple ways to lead as well as multiple feminisms. It invites dialogue, transgressing and transforming borders, and working together toward sustainable solutions. Feminist leadership offers hope and possibility in a world unable to cope with the one, central, best, only leadership ideals and how they have continued to perpetuate the exploitation and destruction of relationships, communities, and ecosystems.
My ideas about feminist leadership are integrative, rather than mainstream or radical as the commonly used binary suggests. This acknowledges that feminist leadership can be based on interconnectedness, curiosity, and understanding. Integrative feminist leadership is not only inclusive of multiple perspectives – it intentionally and lovingly adjoins, weaves, and blends (not necessarily in that order) diverse views and experiences to create something new, something better – something more meaningful and useful and relevant for the world in which we live.