How Do You Want to Lead?

I’m not particularly woo. But I do believe that when the universe sends you a message, you should try to listen.

An example: When I was going through a rough quarter-life crisis while living in Southern California, I went to our apartment pool, and I was feeling super self conscious about how my body looked in my bathing suit. I was worried about my pale skin, my belly that wasn’t bikini ready, my thick thighs.

And then this man walked into the pool area, sat down on a deck chair, and took off his legs. He had two prosthetic limbs that he removed before getting into the pool to swim. 

And I sat there, quietly crying behind my book and sunglasses and thinking, OK universe!  I get the message!  My body’s pretty OK!

Anyway, I think the universe has been trying to talk to me again lately.  Not about body positivity this time, but rather about the direction of my business.

At the end of June, I went to Florida for the inaugural Run Like Clockwork event with Adrienne Dorison about how to create a business that can run without you. Interestingly, almost exactly a year before that, I was on a retreat with Tara McMullin in Montana where I identified that I did, in fact, want to run an agency-style business. 

I got home from the event this year full of ideas, but felt like I couldn’t implement them right away. Two of my main team members went on extended vacations. I was working on a truncated two-day-a-week work schedule while my daughter was out of school, leaving very little time for “other projects.” And then my family came to visit. And then we went on vacation. And then… and then… 

But I realized a couple of weeks ago that these were actually just excuses. I was resisting doing the work because of something much deeper: fear and uncertainty.

But I couldn’t really put my finger on why.

Enter: THE UNIVERSE.

First, I saw this post from Breanne Dyck of MNIB Consulting:

WHAT KIND OF TEAM DO YOU WANT?

See, in my experience, there are two general approaches to team building:

1 – the hub and spoke model, where you keep decision-making centralized, and your team takes care of implementation

2 – the “team of horses” model, where the team takes care of decision-making AND implementation and you provide direction

Neither approach is WRONG but each will take you down a wildly different path: different outcomes, different results … and at the end of the day, different businesses

Ah, thought I. This is echoing what I learned in the Run Like Clockwork event!  That there’s a difference between delegating and deciding. I definitely want the team of horses model; I do NOT want to be a hub.  

Then, I saw a post from Mama Gena of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, talking about her long and winding road of entrepreneurship:

I thought, for sure, a leader is someone who KNOWS HOW TO GET THERE. A leader holds the map. A leader speaks the loudest and holds all authority. A leader knows the most. A leader is profit-driven. A leader is logical. A leader tops a hierarchy. A leader wears a suit and tie.

I believed that because it’s the cultural story. Told by men. About masculine leadership. And they tell that story because it was the one handed down to them too. What a loss to us all that, for a time — a few thousand years of patriarchy — we became confused about the qualities (and even existence) of feminine leadership.

Feminine leadership DREAMS THE DESTINATION; it is visionary. 
Feminine leadership trusts.
Feminine leadership prioritizes the experience over the route.
Feminine leadership may be quiet or even silent; it creates space for reflection.
Feminine leadership shares power. 
Feminine leadership seeks knowledge from the community. 
Feminine leadership is mission-driven. 
Feminine leadership recognizes intuition.
Feminine leadership is at home in a circle. 
And a feminine leader? Wears whatever the f@!k she wants, sisters.

Finally, I listened to an episode of the What Works Podcast with Jennifer Armburst about the different values in a feminine economy. (Feminine as in the archetype, not necessarily the gender.) 

A feminine economy says we do this together, rather than having a single genius that has all the great ideas.

All of these thoughts resonate so deeply with me.  I have thought for years that I didn’t want to build a business, didn’t want to be a thought leader, didn’t want to manage a team, didn’t want to be a CEO… because I was picturing all of those things in relationship to the status quo, the masculine model of business and leadership.

I don’t fit the archetype of a masculine-style business leader. I’m not particularly ambitious or competitive or stoic. I’m not particularly profit driven (money is nice; it’s not everything). The startup mentality of working 26 hours a day, 8 days a week is completely anathema to me. 

I’m an emotional, comfort-driven creature. I want to work less and live more. I want to make enough money to be comfortable, sure, but after that, I’m more motivated by how I can live the rest of my life well rather than how much more money I can make. I want to share the limelight. I can be a thought leader, but I don’t need to be the only thought leader. I want to bake a bigger pie instead of fighting for a bigger slice.  

And the universe has given me a name for that: a feminist business model. Feminine leadership. The team of horses all headed in the same direction, all pulling their own weight. 

So yeah, universe. I’m listening.

More please. 

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10 thoughts on “How Do You Want to Lead?

  1. I love this.
    I am very much a team player, and while I am assertive and reliable, i think strong decisions are made by more than one person. I own my strengths and weaknesses and hope others do the same.

  2. Thank you for speaking out about the feminine side of business. I too talk about this because I believe that trying to push ourselves into the male version has been holding us back. The majority of “role models” speaking out are men. That is changing and only women can rise up and own their strength!

  3. Loved this Lacy! Thanks for shedding a bit more light on the feminist archetype and biz model – this too spoke deeply to me at this time and I feel it kind of gave me “permission to dream big” because that biz model fits our vision so much more clearly also.thsnks for being part of the universe’s message for us! #surrender #alwayslistening #teamuniveese !

  4. Great post. I like the analogy of hub and spoke compared to team of horses.
    As a male leader, I have depended or emulated the “hub” but my feminine side(I think we all have both) believed there was a team to create out there. When I was 32, I created a “team” not realizing that there were multiple horses that wanted to be the hub. I came from medical background before high-tech, and I was naive and altruistic.
    Where I am now is an environment that is all volunteer and it is more a social gathering than a meeting to create s legacy. I’m not sure how to “harness a team.”

    1. Henk, I’m so glad you commented! I agree that we all have both and a lot of men are craving a different way of working as well! A resource that has really clarified my thinking on this is the new book “Clockwork” by Mike Michaleawitz.

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