I had an amazing conversation recently with my friend and colleague, Michele Norris about the momentum and hype around Lean In communities within large corporate organizations and the book itself. She get's full credit for the slogan, "Don't Lean In, Lead Out." Though I am grateful to Sheryl Sandburg for bringing attention and collaboration to this amazing women's movement, I have two issues with the Lean In idea:
1. Many Lean In communities have become b*tch sessions for the Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers to complain about inequality. To start, complaining is not helpful or effective and won't lead to change and transformation within our current economic and political systems, which is so desperately being called for today. Defensive posturing towards men by women is the masculine and competitive behavior that we need to move away from. Also, this is not an equality issue, it's a balance issue. The world is way out of balance and needs more feminine power, not more masculine power. In Eastern terms this means balance between the Yin and Yang. I cannot emphasize enough that this is not a men vs. women issue, each of us as individuals represent a balance or imbalance of masculine and feminine energy. The world as a whole is mostly masculine and way out of balance -- linear, analytical, logical and competitive. Feminine power is empathy, compassion, intuition and collaboration.
2. Leaning in is only step one -- it's the conversation starter, not the solution. Driving change by how we lead is the subject that needs more attention and focus. We don't need more women at the table, we need more women at the table changing the conversation and leading differently. The last thing we need in corporate America or government structures is more alpha females. Again, it is a balance issue, we need more feminine, not necessarily more females. If we put attention on women's equality instead of driving transformational leadership change -- we will be fostering competition over collaboration.
"We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them" -- Albert Einstein
It is time to LEAD OUT! Lean in, as an authentic powerful woman and then lead out to change, heal, and transform. What is being called for are modern leaders that can bring feminine power -- emotional intelligence, authenticity, wisdom, and service. Women will have to take this lead using graceful power, not force, because this will re-direct and transform organizations, governments, and the planet. These patriarchal and authoritative systems are self-serving and based in winning and ignore the need to serve the greater good and humanity. Also, these conventional institutions, without change, will collapse by their inability to attract the Millennial generation, the generation of employees that will soon dominate the workforce.
Leaning in should be used to get the conversation going and to support women in finding their authentic voice. But, the real work to be done is for women to LEAD US OUT of the old paradigm and into the future with heart led leadership.
To learn more about feminine leadership, visit:
To learn more about navigating generations at work and how to lead out, visit: http://www.navigenleadership.com/