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One Feminine Principle of Leadership


“The concept of balance is thus aligned with the concept of justice–a noble duality the feminine could happily embrace.”

In my last blog, I made the point that The Man’s Way of governance has brought us to a very perilous moment in history, and it is time for it to be tempered by The Woman’s Way. I suggested that we begin to prepare for this responsibility by developing principles of leadership uniquely suited to the feminine psyche. They would clarify what matters most to us and how that differs from the masculine approach.

And to be frank, one of the reasons why I think this is necessary is because I have no illusions about the shadow side of the feminine. In fact, the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in a professional situation was by two women. So there. We’re not perfect, and we can be scary. Establishing guidelines to promote the enlightened use of power would benefit the collective and also set a nice example for men, who have never done this as far as I know.

I would suggest that there be a total of three principles, because a trinity of whatever seems to be especially memorable to the human mind. All of the principles, if this idea catches on, should be the developed by consensus–at a huge conference of women, for example. However, I do have a thought about one.

I need to work more on the phrasing, but the idea is that “the feminine ideal of leadership is to serve the good of balance.”

I have been thinking a lot about balance lately as a result of physical therapy for a fractured ankle. A number of exercises involve needing to stabilize in a precarious position. Body and mind are both involved with rare intensity, which reminds me how taxing the cultivation of a balanced perspective is. That in turn reminds me of the giant evolutionary leap Cro-Magnon man may have precipitated by recording the phases of the moon. Perhaps a widespread commitment to a balanced perspective could lead to another evolutionary leap, as I will explain.

This subject takes me back to a meeting I attended in the Senate Banking Committee decades ago. I was on the minority staff and was being instructed to draw up three pros and three cons for consideration relative to a proposed item of legislation. I must have looked puzzled, because I knew what the minority position was. And then the instructions were repeated, as in, “I want the three best reasons you can come up with for supporting this legislation and the three best reasons you can propose for rejecting it.”

I was being asked to develop a perfectly balanced perspective, and that required me to spend days framing the opposition’s position as forcefully as possible. The exercise shifted the focus from “We want a win on this one” to taking an objective look at the downside and potential long-range consequences. It was an exercise I’ve never forgotten, a very taxing exercise that could probably greatly enhance human intellect if it became common.

It is an approach especially suited to the feminine psyche, simply because our historic experience in life has had more to do with keeping the hearth than racking up wins out in the world. It is an approach that requires one to share, if only briefly, the perspective of “the other.” That is huge.

This now takes me to the image of scales, the universal symbol of balance. In Roman mythology, they are held aloft as an ideal by a feminine figure, Themis. The concept of balance is thus aligned with the concept of justice–a noble duality the feminine could happily embrace.

2 Responses to “One Feminine Principle of Leadership”

  1. Michelle Mosser

    I’ve been interested for years in the growing movements in Women’s Leadership. One program I’d like to participate in is hosted by Nina Simons of Bioneers and Toby Herzlich, who is an accomplished facilitator / trainer working with diverse groups, especially women in US, Middle East and Europe. There’s amazing evidence linking women’s leadership styles, peace-making and sustainable business and living practices.


    • celeryellenheath

      Many thanks, Michellee. (Just finding this.) I need to get involved with this, and I love Bioneers and Simons. Maybe she’s an heiress to Steinem’s place. I read something today about how she will leave behind a vacuum.