The Tensions I've Faced Talking about Female Leadership

The Tensions I've Faced Talking about Female Leadership | Jennifer Spoelma

When I first started writing about leadership, I called my series Feminine Foresight. I planned to write all about the leadership experience for women, the good, the bad, the ugly. But most of all, I wanted to highlight the truth that women are amazing leaders. Just as we are. In fact, it’s our feminine qualities themselves that can make us great leaders. But that’s not usually the message we hear.

Why I named it Feminine Foresight

I wanted to pinpoint one of the underlying issues – that many of us hold a deep seeded belief that we (as women) aren’t cut out for leadership. So, I named my series Feminine Foresight to highlight the feminine aspect of leadership. I wanted it to be direct and call attention to the gap that exists between our potential and what we actualize in our leadership journeys.

Then, for a couple of months, I ‘beta’ tested Feminine Foresight out on my newsletter subscribers. For several weeks, my bi-weekly newsletter was the only place this content was available. I wanted to see how people responded before making it public on my blog.

Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve made a lot of decisions in the past couple years that were risky and way bigger than me. Like deciding to write and publish a book, and launch a Kickstarter campaign.

But for some reason, launching Feminine Foresight had me terrified!

While I didn’t know how people would respond, I had plenty of assumptions. After all, my inspiration for the series has stemmed from my own personal experiences (in my career, personal life and relationships) that made it clear not everyone valued women as leaders. These barriers, and the stories others have shared with me have given me a sobering perspective that many still hold limiting views of women.

Women’s leadership was initially a hard topic for me to address

I am from the Midwest. I grew up and went to school in a city that is quite conservative politically and religiously. Therefore, I understand the term ‘women’s leadership’ can cause strong reactions and uncertainty in many. My own worldview was formed with conservative ideals, which made this exploration into female leadership feel a bit risky.

But the more I wrestled with these tensions, it became clear that this topic was far too important to set aside. I couldn't let the fear of other people’s perceptions keep me small and quiet.

Tension is a gift and motivator

On my good days, I see the tension as a gift. I know I’m digging into something that’s real. It’s gritty and resonate in today’s culture. Most of all, it speaks life and hope to you. And to women who, like me, may have grown up believing their potential was capped compared to the men in their lives.

When we choose to speak to a point of tension, it’s common for confusion and misunderstanding to occur. I’ve seen that happen with Feminine Foresight. For example:

  1. I was very intentional about making it clear that the conversation was open to and inviting of both men and women. I even explicitly stated that at the top of my emails and everywhere I talked about FF.However, as soon as I started sending the emails, I noticed an uptick in men unsubscribing from my list. I don’t believe it’s because they were necessarily unreceptive to the conversation, I just don’t think people read their emails as thoroughly as I wish they did. I believe that the conversation about women as leaders needs to be one we’re having across genders if we hope to see positive change in perceptions of females.
  2. I discovered that for several people, the word ‘feminine’ can be confused with the term ‘feminism’. Which is a term that, like many others, has a broad spectrum of where one can fall on it.As I mentioned above, coming from a conservative background. I found that the close tie to the term feminism was turning people off from even exploring the content. Even though I am comfortable with feminism and openly call myself a feminist, I understand it is a term that can divide. I don’t want to leave people out of a conversation they could contribute to and even learn from.

I hope that moving forward I can continue to clarify the heart and purpose of Feminine Foresight, and that the content will continue to encourage you.

Look forward to the next season of content

I want to keep creating content that inspires you and gives you the tools you need to lead well. I want to create even better content, and have so many ideas for doing so. But for now, I just need to take the next step in front of me.

That means I’ll be capping off “season 1” of Feminine Foresight with this episode. I’m not ending it forever, I just need to spend some time focusing on other projects.

I have lots of exciting things in the works with my book, Tell It Well that need to be my focus for now. I’d love for you to follow along on the journey on Instagram!

I’m sure I’ll come back to season 2 of Feminine Foresight with plenty of vigor and excitement – I hope you’re looking forward to it, too!