When you hear the word ‘leader’ or ‘leadership’, what comes to mind?
In asking this question, the answers vary from ‘dominance’ and ‘boss’, to ‘inspiration’ and someone who ‘paves a new road’. The responses, of course, reflect our own connotations and personal experiences with leadership, however negative or positive.
It will come as no surprise that most of us experience leadership that is vastly male-dominated: our bosses, political leaders, school administrations, and family structures. We therefore have internalized a masculine way of behaving as a leader as ‘the’ way to be in a position of authority.
Since this is, more often than not, based on an unequal power structure of command/ subordination, it perpetuates the paradigm of women being subservient to men, and men being in competition with one another for dominance, and women being in competition with each other.
Considering the related synonyms of ‘subordination’ are: servitude, submission, inferior, and diminished, we can clearly see how the typical leadership structures leave much to be desired for women.
In turn, this causes many women to resist positions of leadership and subconsciously continue to give their power away because of their mixed relationship to ‘power’ itself. As of 2017, only 6.4% of the U.S.’s biggest companies (by revenue) are run by women [Fortune Magazine, June 2017].
This of course also correlates to a women’s earning potential. Pay equity according to gender is not the standard, and women are more likely than men to internalize a limiting belief about how much money they can make.
I agree with UN Women that “women’s political empowerment and equal access to leadership positions at all levels are fundamental to achieving […] a more equal world.” [unwomen.org] However, as long as women believe that to be in those arenas they will have to “toughen up and be one of the boys”, unable to be authentic to who they are or how they command authority and power, the growth will be slow.
What about the feminine way of leadership?
The qualities of feminine leadership are very different from the masculine. No better or worse, since both have their strengths and shadow aspects. To be clear, when I say feminine I don’t just mean women, and when I say masculine I don’t just mean men. As spiritual beings we energetically operate beyond the limiting gender binary and can express both no matter our biological sex.
In the realm of archetypal psychology, we see repeating behaviour patterns that transcend historical time, geographic location, and the individual. Archetypes exist in our collective unconsciousness, and our expression of these behaviour patterns indicate which ones are strong or weak in us.
When we immerse ourselves in the mythologies of Goddesses from cultures around the world, they act as portals for us to explore these archetypal patterns. In them, we see divine beings who embody leadership qualities in a empowered feminine way.
It is my pleasure to share with you the 7 Goddess Gifts of Feminine Leadership.
1. Maiden ~ Vulnerability
The maiden archetype represents the original, core essence of a woman’s being as a young girl. She is innocent, playful, and creative. Women can access their inner maiden through any kind of play, social fun, and giving themselves a break from ‘adulting’ once in a while. This archetype is present in the Root Chakra.
You may be surprised to see ‘vulnerability’ listed as a leadership quality. It is an important one however, because it is a fact that people feel better connected to and trust leaders more when they show vulnerability. This lends itself to a collaborative leadership style, with the understanding that nothing is ever achieved alone.
You may have a Maiden leadership style if you value transparent honesty, the creative process over the end result, and haven’t lost the ability to bring play into your work.
Some Goddesses that represent the Maiden archetype are: Persephone, Ostara, Artemis.
2. Mother ~ Nurturance
The mother archetype is the instinctual urge in women to create new life and nurture growth. This is often expressed through child rearing, but can also be satisfied with gardening, caring for animals, and fostering the growth of communities or projects. In general, this is the strongest and most prevalent type in women. This archetype is present in the Sacral Chakra.
The goddess gift of the great Mother is Nurturance; her natural ability to tend to, care for, and protect life energy. This is a vital quality in leadership so that whatever you are collectively working on sustains its life. This is one way that feminine leadership has a very positive, exponential effect on communities, since strong leaders create more strong leaders.
You may have a Mother leadership style if you value looking out for your colleagues well-being beyond work, enjoy feeling needed and appreciated for your caring nature, and like to take on projects to bring them to life.
Some Goddesses that represent the Mother archetype (and there are MANY): Yemanya, Demeter, Corn Mother, Gaia, Lakshmi, Hathor.
3. Wild Woman ~ Courage
The archetype of the wild woman evokes a primal response in women of feeling strong, free, and uninhibited. It can also trigger fear, for it is the most repressed feminine archetype. She is bold, confident, and knows her boundaries. The Wild Woman is present in the Solar Plexus Chakra.
She gives the gift of Courage to any woman leader to have the persistence to continue in the face of adversity. Commitment to your cause, belief that you can accomplish what you are setting out to do. Courage spurs the leader forward.
You may have a Wild Woman leadership style if you value being a trailblazer, working on larger scale projects and bigger stages, and aren’t afraid of the push-back you get from being outspoken and successful.
Some Goddesses that represent the Wild Woman archetype are: Artemis (she does double duty as a Warrior Maiden), Pele, Freyja, Sekhmet.
4. Healer ~ Compassion
The healer archetype most certainly exists with both masculine and feminine expressions. The healer is simply a channel for divine love and intelligence to flow through to help others regain harmony in the body, mind, and/or soul. This archetype is present in the Heart Chakra.
Compassion is the goddess gift from the Healer, with the qualities of empathy and forgiveness. Think of an experience you’ve had with someone in a healing profession where their mere presence made you feel loved and take care of. Now imagine if more leaders on the global stage embodied this quality of compassion. What a wonderful world it would be.
You may have a Healer leadership style if you value a nourishing workspace, prioritize a work-life balance for your team (hello, 4 day work-week), and bring out the best in people with your belief in them.
Some Goddesses that represent the Healer are: Quan Yin, Ixchel, Brigit, Iaso.
5. Creatrix ~ Manifestation
This archetype engages with our creative expression and manifestation abilities. The Creatrix assists us with giving voice to our ideas and bringing our dreams into form. In other archetype systems, she can be referred to as the Muse. The throat chakra is the Creatrix center.
The gift of the Creatrix is Manifestation. Leaders are expected to bring ideas and plans to life, so they must possess this ability to not only conceptualize, but to actualize. The feminine way of manifestation can look very different than the masculine, since it is typically more receptive and flowing rather than active and driven. This archetype helps women leaders bring creativity to their projects.
You may have a Creatrix leadership style if you are an innovator, your creative thinking is valued at every brainstorming session, and you have an uncanny ability to make shift happen. Some Goddesses that represent the Creatrix are: Aphrodite, Rhiannon, Ishtar, Astarte, Saraswati.
6. Crone ~ Vision
The Crone, or Wise Woman, archetype can be a difficult one for us to embrace since we live in a society whose respect for its elders has greatly diminished. As well, with the dominant ideology of a woman’s most important roles being that of attractive maiden or fruitful mother — the Crone has no value. This is a tragic oversight that disregards the wisdom of older women and causes inner conflict within many women who struggle to embrace their inner knowing. The Crone resides in our Third Eye Chakra.
The goddess gift of this archetype is Vision, which she gains from both her lived experience and her intuition. Feminine leadership as a visionary wise woman is deeply rooted in intuition for what is in the highest good of all. This quality is essential for us to look at the bigger picture, as well as longer-term goals.
You may have a Crone leadership style if you’re known as the “big picture gal”, you value expertise and knowledge (people seek you out as an expert), and you pride yourself on being logical and level-headed.
Some Goddesses that represent the Crone/ Wise Woman are: Hecate, Cerridwyn, Baba Yaga, Athena, Grandmother Spider.
7. Priestess ~ Transformation
The Priestess archetype is a powerful one. She typically embodies many of the other types in a dynamic combination of empowered femininity. When we can harmonize our inner archetypes with grace, the Priestess is a multi-faceted role model for women to aspire to. The Crown chakra is the center for this Divine Queen.
The Priestess gives the goddess gift of transformation. The ability to shape-shift our realities, to transmute negative experiences into positive wisdom, and to elevate the mundane human experience into one of divine exaltation — this is the alchemy of feminine leadership as a Priestess. It requires a special fusion of understanding universal laws, being deeply connected to the Divine, and applying a little magic. Then, the transformation can occur on a large scale.
You may have a Priestess leadership style if your work bridges the spiritual and the material worlds, you are adept at creating and holding space for others to experience transformation, and you value a connection to the Divine.
Some Goddesses that represent the Priestess are: Isis, Dana/Danu, Inanna.
In learning how to understand our souls on a mythic level with feminine archetypes and Goddesses, we connect to our multi-dimensional nature. We perceive more information, and we make more energy available to us. We begin to see ourselves and everyone around us through this lens.
When you apply this psychology and soul work in your career or business, you reach a new level of self-mastery. You attain a harmony between honouring yourself and reclaiming your strength and power, while also showing compassion, kindness and love to others. You prosper as you lead with integrity, vulnerability and authenticity.
What kind of feminine leader are you? Which qualities mentioned are already your strengths, which ones are rising within you?
Take my FREE QUIZ, Which of the 7 Sacred Feminine Archetypes Are you?, to discover.