Centered Leadership

The evening before the Telstra Women in Business Awards last year the finalists all met to prepare for the awards the next night. One of the facilitated discussions was around the challenges obstacles women face during their careers, and some of the ways the 2012 winners had navigated these challenges.  On this theme, last year I discussed the research (68,000 people surveyed) presented in the Athena Doctrine. The book identified “female traits” as those best serving leaders for success into the future. The masculine and feminine traits for leadership and success identified were:


Leadership and Success
Feminine traits Masculine traits
·         Plans for the future

·         Expressive

·         Reasonable

·         Loyal

·         Flexible

·         Patient

·         Intuitive

·         Passionate

·         Empathetic

·         Selfless

·         Collaborative

·         Decisive

·         Resilient

·         Analytical

·         Independent

·         Aggressive

·         Proud


I received an article from Amanda Lynch (thanks Amanda!) that she thought I might find interesting called Centered Leadership which describes the needs of female leaders and ways to address challenges we face on the journey of leadership.


Centered Leadership was developed from research undertaken by McKinsey & Associates called the McKinsey Leadership Project which sort to learn what drives and sustains successful female leaders (they actually researched both men and women internationally). From the results of the research McKinsey distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions.  These five dimensions are contained in the model below.

  • Meaning is the motivation that moves us forward. Meaning is about finding and utilising your strengths in service of an inspiring purpose. It starts with happiness that leads from pleasure to engagement to meaning.
  • Managing energy is knowing where your energy comes from and where it goes, and what you can do to manage it – identifying what energises you and what zaps your energy, and actively maintaining “flow states”. It is about work-life integration, where activities are prioritised, resources managed and restorative elements are built into your day to avoid dipping into your reserves.
  • Positive framing is adopting a more constructive and resourceful way at looking at the world – fostering a mindset that serves you, seeing the cup as half full (learned optimism) and expanding your horizons, and developing resilience to continually move ahead even when the going gets tough (accepting adversity and countering it with action).
  • Connecting is identifying who can help you grow (networking and sponsorship), building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense of belonging through reciprocity (often giving before you get) and inclusiveness. It also involves mentoring others. The upside of this is that our lives become more meaningful.
  • Engaging is finding your voice, rather than waiting and hoping to be noticed. Engaging is “creating your own luck” by becoming self-reliant and confident, being adaptable and accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others.


The preconditions for this include intelligence, tolerance for change, the desire to lead and communication skills. The impact of embodying this model includes presence, resilience, belonging, and a heightened sense of wellbeing and happiness.


It is useful to reflect on theses five dimensions and think about how balanced and thoroughly you are addressing each of them. I encourage you to develop an action plan for any area you think would benefit from some extra attention.  If you would like a copy of the full article please email me.

Posted in On Leadership