With the current world situation, there are many things we can lament about, however, we can also use this period to take some steps to ensure that the world we enter after COVID-19 will be a better one. On Wednesday, Heleniq Argyrou shared her key insights into female leadership in the first online WIL event of the block.
Heleniq is a professional coach and speaker with a background in psychology and she started out the workshop by explaining that what the world currently is facing is a paradigm shift. Namely, we are experiencing a paradigm shift in which there is a greater interest in restoring the balance of feminine essence. The feminine essence can be described as a state of becoming, and thus it is a process filled with uncertainty and which must be tackled with patience. To make this concept more tangible and demonstrate why it is a feminine quality, you can think of it as pregnancy. Heleniq explained that women especially have this essence because they have the ability to carry children, which must be seen as the ultimate state of creating and becoming something for which you cannot fully predict the future. The current world situation then, is a time where leadership from female essence can be very important!
If you want to lead with feminine essence, there are five key areas which you can develop:
4) Becoming the truth
5) Raising up others
Heleniq called these “feminine powers” and underlined that women have different leadership characteristics than men. When leading from the feminine essence, the following qualities are present to smaller or larger degrees:
Accommodative strategies: women are more likely to consider other people and be willing to change.
Forming coalitions: e.g. creating subgroup projects or support team members in ways that go beyond the project.
Strength to assess social/cultural pressures and dynamics
Purposeful, meaningful inspiration to others
Ability to tolerate stress
Aggressiveness: female essence leaders can use their nurturing energy to assess how much aggressiveness is needed for success with a long or short-term outlook
Good strategy: men often work more chronologically, whereas women usually have more interconnectivity which allows us to see things that are being overlooked.
High level empathy
Highly enterprising, innovative
Passionate: In agenda setting, women put greater emphasis on health than men do.
Keeping the systematic flow of group structure
These are all great qualities that give women a different leadership style than men. Based on her research Heleniq also gave us three “blind spots” that women often need to pay attention too or improve when they are in leadership roles. Namely  a tendency to be perfectionistic,  often women are not perceived to be as visionary as men because we tend to be more careful or unnecessarily engage more relationally. Instead, make sure to express yourself confidently enough to direct others to take action. Finally,  she found that women sometimes carry toxic feelings towards other women, so we need to focus on lifting each other up.
Personally, I have often heard that women have to “adapt” and be more masculine if they want to be taken seriously as leaders. However, we have seen that there are many qualities to be found in the feminine essence that can make strong leaders! So, if we embrace that women often lead differently than men, we can take part in a style of leadership which may be very much needed in the current world situation!
If you are more interested in Heleniq’s work, you can find her on LinkedIn:
She also gave some book recommendations for those who want to diver deeper into the feminine essence and female leadership:
The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine
Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Articles from the Harvard Business Review
Written by Christine Stein Hededam