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The Future of Leadership Development

Another world is not only possible, she’s on her way – on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

– Arundhati Roy

As we rush into another post-pandemic year, with traffic back to normal, loadshedding, other political crises, wars, and many uncertainties going on in the world… I keep asking myself, do we just return to ‘normal’, with some adjusted remote work policies, with a focus on mental health, with slightly adjusted leadership? Which is what I see many organisations doing.

Or could we see our current situation as a possibility to create something completely new? Is this an opportunity to create a very different world, and are we sufficiently working on this?

If we were to take this opportunity to not only create ‘new work’ but a ‘new world’, what would leadership development need to look like? In fact, let me be more straightforward:

I believe our current ways of working and doing business aren’t sustainable. As part of shifting this, we need radically different leadership.

There are three major themes that have been on my mind and in my heart for a while.

The first theme is the overarching one. Having worked with Women in Leadership for many years, I have been interested in the value of feminine energy (within all genders), and the balancing out of masculine and feminine energy in workplaces and in our world. In fact, I think many of the challenges in our world have been created by thinking that is linear, output-driven, and self-centred. The masculine has been dominant for a long time; but the results it has created for us are not healthy, and not sustainable. Not for ourselves, not for our workplaces, not for our communities, and certainly not for our planet.

What would feminine intelligence allow for in businesses and in our world?

  • Compassion, Intuition and Interconnectedness rather than linear thinking
  • Care for each other and our bodies, allowing for pause and regeneration
  • Adding intangible yet crucial business success factors to KPIs, OKRs and ROI

Feminine intelligence would allow for collective well-being rather than individual pursuits of happiness. The guiding question here being: “How can I be well if the whole is not well?”

The second and third theme are sub-themes as they have a direct link to feminine intelligence. I am thinking about inclusive leadership, and about reinvention.

We have made inclusive leadership a non-negotiable part of our leadership journeys. Why? In our globalized and interconnected world, we need to move beyond small-mindedness and biases. We need to see that the voices that have been marginalized, the people who have not been contributing, the people who we have deemed ‘different’ to us are possibly the ones that can gift us wisdom and insight we do not have now. We need inclusive leaders who

  • are able to create psychological safety in the team
  • make ALL team members feel like they can voice their opinions, ideas and challenges
  • build a sense of belonging for each team member AND recognize and value their uniqueness

Most importantly, we need leaders who use their role to promote equity within the team and wider organization.

Inclusive leadership is an example of including feminine intelligence in business; and in South Africa, we need this more than ever. If leaders in South Africa could role model inclusive leadership, imagine what this would do to our society!

The third theme is reinvention. We now have 3 certified reinvention practitioners on our team and have included principles and tools of reinvention in strategy developments, leadership development, and other services offered to clients.

We are facing unprecedented uncertainties and complexity in our world and work. Basic change management tools do not serve us anymore; we need a reinvention mindset, aligned with systems thinking. This allows us to anticipate change and work with it in more fluid ways – by experimenting rather than trying to find the ‘right way’, by seeing what happens with our efforts and adjusting along the way. Again, this is more aligned with a flexible, feminine approach that is in touch with the environment around us rather than a hard and fast ‘project management plan’ that has to be implemented, measured and definitely succeed. It is the realization that in order to survive and thrive together with our planet, we need to continuously reinvent: ourselves, our organization and our way of creating sustainability in our world.

Feminine intelligence, inclusive leadership, and reinvention. What would be possible if we lived more of it in our workplaces, and in our world? What would be possible if we could add more feminine energy to the already existing masculine energy in the world, create a balance and use the best of both?

Would we not only be able to hear the new world breathing, but actually welcome it?

Judith Haupt

Senior facilitator & Coach