In a time when women still have many societal role expectations, understanding feminist leadership principles is important for all genders. Although many women have achieved high-level leadership positions, many still have not but are leaders in their own way. Women in the workplace more often than not must still balance work, family, societal expectations, and bias in a predominately patriarchal society.
As feminist women leaders, we have the responsibility to not only uplift other women, but share our platforms and power, and enhance their collaborations so they are successful. It essential to be diverse and inclusive, but to be truly transformative, we also need to demonstrate respect in learning from each other, by listening and giving all an opportunity to have a voice. Within this framework of expanded feminist ideology to support women leaders is a key element: the evolution of contextual language.
Over the decades, my language has evolved as I have grown in experience. Through discovery of more egalitarian language, we have used early-career, mid-career and “femtoring” (as opposed to junior and “mentoring”). We femtor others because we see all women as capable of becoming leaders and help them focus their passion to have impact in their chosen profession. Femtoring involves the key aspects of networking, collaboration, inclusivity, diversity, and supportiveness.
However, no leadership is without challenges, but the key is learning from them, gaining wisdom, and growing in the journey. Women leaders in time gain more confidence, skills, and personal agency to forge the way for others. We learn through having trusted friends, sisters, and guides helping to create the path and ease the burden, so we don’t feel like we are alone within systems that are still structurally patriarchal, biased, discriminatory, and racist. Many of these women we call femtors.
Embedded in the role of femtor is also the concept of preparing a leadership succession plan. Being strategic about developing next-generation leadership in your field or business is essential to ensure that goals and impact live on, and that diverse leadership roles exist to include women with lived experiences who reflect the members of the communities in which we work.
Having a variety of femtors overtime can offer different perspectives and wider wisdom, and ultimately lead to growth with far reaching impact. We can hope that our next generation of visionaries will help us heal this world. Helping others and governments to embrace the obstacles and challenges turning problems into solutions. These next leaders will eventually femtor the generation coming up behind them. The energy and agency will cyclically build as more and more women become the face and heartbeat to impact all aspects of our broader society.