I’ve been thinking about Jacinda Ardern stepping down as PM of NZ and what this means for women in leadership. Some are looking at her decision to step down as a failure, as confirmation that you cannot succeed as a sensitive, compassionate leader.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have no doubt that Jacinda will continue to make a difference, to change the world. She may need rest for now, to focus on other areas of her life, but this will not be the last we hear of her influence.
The idea that taking a rest, that knowing when to retreat is a failure is embedded in our culture. A culture that has traditionally had one stereotypical leader archetype.
The tide is turning. Jacinda has inspired many future leaders who want to embody her compassion, her integrity, her wisdom. None of her leadership has been wasted, she has shown what is possible, a world where authentic leaders can inspire change.
If you have a female body with female hormones, then it’s perfectly natural that your energy may ebb and flow, that you may have cycles, that you will need to tune into your body and listen. Our culture doesn’t allow for this so much, but things are changing. If you look at leaders around you and don’t see yourself reflected, that says much less about you and more about a culture and privilege that has favoured those leaders.
You are strong, you are welcome as you are. Just how you choose to make your difference may look different to what you see out there currently — that’s ok.
Rest is not a failure.
Changing the map of your life is not a failure.
Listening to your body instead of pushing through is not a failure.
Lean into the ebbs and flows and do what you need to do so that you can come back stronger. The world needs you to make your difference but you need to have something left in the tank to do it justice. Let’s normalise supporting each other through the ebbs and celebrating each other in flow!