I’m thrilled by the engagement of the 22 amazing women who stepped into our inspirational wisdom council at Harburn House in June. So if you were one of them, thank you so much for being a part of an extraordinary day. If you weren’t able to join us, please stay and read on as we welcome your wisdom and insights here too. This is just part of an emerging tapestry of opportunities to come together and share our collective wisdom as women at the heart of leadership.
For now, I want to share a few things that struck me most about the day and welcome your comments and reflections on the day or on what you read here. I’ve broken it down into a few different posts to enable greater ease of response until we get our online forum up and running. Please bare in mind this is not a private space and we invite you to comment respectfully.
What struck me first was that even given the breadth of diversity in the group, there was a courageous willingness to trust one another and show up really authentically and openly, right from the start. Some women had already participated in other WHL programmes and so had a kind of head start, whilst others were completely new to the community ethos. Some had been on a personal or leadership development path for years and others were just embarking on their journey of self-discovery. Some recognised themselves as leaders in their organisations, whilst others were grappling with owning the identity of ‘leader’ at any level. And still, we co-created a environment of mutual respect, openness and trust almost instantly. This ‘holding container’ in turn, evoked the freedom and honesty that made the conversations that flowed throughout the rest of the day so rich and meaningful.
We all have significant ‘true cares’ that we desire to live by and to a large extent we already know what is needed for us to live and lead with integrity.
As a way of creating strong foundations for our Wisdom Council in the afternoon, we spent time in the morning exploring the values that are founded in our true sense of care for life – the ‘life-affirming’ values that we hold as women. After exploring together in small groups, we wrote on ‘heart cards’; our true cares on one side and the principles (our fundamental beliefs or ‘truths’ about life) associated with those true cares on the other.
For me, this was one of the most moving parts of the day as we then laid our hearts on the floor and began to see the collective depth of care that is at the root of who we are and that is a core expression of our authentic power. Many of these life affirming true cares were expressions of compassion, understanding, trust, emotional intelligence and authenticity, with a recognition of the spiritual dimension that is rarely acknowledged in our more conventional leadership conversations.
I don’t think I was alone in being humbled as I resonated with the emerging wisdom that was clearly coming straight from the heart. These were not just superficial words on bits of card or courtesies based what we think we should value. These were insights grounded in a deep exploration of what matters to us most in life, founded on our life experience of the realities we want to experience (which are life-affirming) versus the realities we no longer want to experience (which are life-diminishing). It’s my belief that these true cares that many of us might on the surface judge as being ‘soft’ and therefore insubstantial, are in fact what form the foundations of our core power and integrity as authentic leaders in the world. They are the source from which our inspired and courageous action is naturally propelled.
This meaningful inquiry provided a depth to the connections that were made during the day which, in turn, increased the sense of support within the group. There was a strong sense of alignment in these true cares which, when we realise we are by no means alone in valuing, gives us a greater degree of strength and resolve to be true to them in our leadership.