Purpose Shared: Whole Person Leadership for Women

Photo credit: Patricia Neal 2017

Photo credit: Patricia Neal 2017

by Patricia Neal

Tend & Befriend: Back in 2007 I read an article about a 2003 UCLA study where researchers identified a critical difference between the sexes…how we manage stress. I began to ask new questions about leadership and representation and wrote an article that led me to co-found a women's leadership retreat with Vonda Vaden Bates: When Women Lead

The questions that led me to create When Women Lead are still relevant today and led me to create Whole Person Leadership for Women in 2017. I invite you to read the article and consider joining us for the next Whole Person Leadership for Women cohort this Fall.

I wondered what is the expression that is needed to create leadership that brings wholeness? What is the world that we want to see for ourselves, women and men, and our children? And how do we get there?

I felt it was time for women to step forward in our real power, which is being who we truly are. Who we are as feminine leaders is that we are humans first; we come from and can act from wholeness that recognizes that.

In 2003 UCLA researchers identified a critical difference between the sexes…how we manage stress. Early baseline studies on stress and human behavior were conducted predominantly on men. This study established a new baseline: Females respond to stressful situations by protecting themselves (and their young) through nurturing behaviors (‘tending”), and by friendship, forming alliances with a larger social group (“befriending”). In other words, the traditional “fight-or-flight” explanation may be inaccurate when it comes to women. 

I began to challenge all assumptions as to how the world functions and how I can make a difference. I had spent my life overriding natural tendencies of behavior and leadership. I began to look for models and allies that could help me grow into the leadership that is naturally mine: leadership from the perspective of wholeness versus authority-over.

As you probably know, many women have gathered, in our communities and organizations, all over the world, forming alliances for social change, doing business together. This still-emergent movement is quietly, persistently changing the world as we learn to author our lives.