I grew up watching Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Princess Di, Mother Theresa. My view of the world was influenced by 30 minute evening news called “Dnevnik”~ always at 7:30 pm following 5 minute cartoon. The only way my father would allow me to watch the news is if I “was really good” and promised to be silent. And 30 minutes was enough at my young age for me to learn the world is grander and shaped by female leaders. I remember sitting on the couch pondering “who are these women?”, “how did they get chosen?”, “what is their life like?’, “who are their friends?”, “what does it take for a woman to lead a household, offices, organizations, global companies and countries?"

Three decades later my life continues to be shaped by many women leaders connected through the educational, professional and simply every day exposure. Perhaps reflecting on Mother’s Day I must say I am beyond grateful for the “tribe” of women that have been present in my life and shown the values of courage, persistence, looking “beyond” and facing their fears. Those are the women who chose the right path even when obstacles seemed insurmountable, who summon the courage to speak the truth despite consistent and constant “shhhshh”; who value assertiveness and respect in paving the path of wisdom to inspire and lead. They are bold and visionary and I call them “avatars”.

And my world was equally influenced by the “other kind of female leader." I have encountered women who lead by
ultimatums, fear, lack of insight, exclusion, dismissal and doing whatever needs to be done “not to ruffle the feathers.” Their decisions are influenced by fear for their own position and the stand of “looking good”, compromising courageous conversation with “will handle it” response. Fear, the foundation of their actions, blended with the tone of disrespect ultimately leads to their exposure. …

Many people led by this type of women walked away with wounded feelings, unexpressed truths and at times feeling they “were not good enough”… and some choose "victimhood" as their path of life.

The “avatar” woman leader… she OWNS it … her imperfections, her “dark side”, her struggles… all of it …and her path is never the easy one…

Take a moment and reflect who are the women leaders in your life? How do they show up? How have they inspired you? What are your experiences with fear based leadership?

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