Women’s leadership was the theme of keynote speaker Nina Simons at the Eighth Annual Central Coast Women’s Symposium on March 10. Nina talked about her personal struggle and resistance at first with being dubbed a “leader,” and how she grew into and ultimately accepted the important new role.
Simons felt it was quite a burden the Dalai Lama placed on us when he said “The world will be saved by Western women.” Over time she is coming to believe he might be right. 30,000 women are running for political office across the country this year and the uprising is further reflected in the #MeToo and #Time’s Up movements. Women are striking in Spain and women in Wisconsin spearheaded a strike for raises for teachers and other public employees. “Women everywhere are responding to the call from Mother Earth,” noted Simons.
When she was first presented with the “leader” label, Simons was uncomfortable. There were no feminine models for leadership, only male ones. She began studying the writings of noted leaders of both sexes which ultimately led to her editing the book Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart. Women’s leadership is more about collaboration and sharing and is based on relational intelligence, rather than on a hierarchy of power. In our goal-oriented, linear world relationships are often sacrificed in order to accomplish the goal. “Women’s leadership involves putting the relationships before the task that needs to be accomplished,” explains Simons. “Once you build the relationships, the issues will resolve easily.”
Simons laughed with us about a sign she saw in a friend’s house “I’m a Woman. What’s your Superpower?” “Emotions are something women have taken a lot of grief about in the past,” says Simons, “but they are really our superpower. From emotions and female strength we meet conflict with gentle and persevering pressure, such as a river carving its way through a canyon or grass growing through a sidewalk.”
Thank you to Laura Grace for bringing this lovely conference and engaging speakers to San Luis Obispo since 2011.