written by Nicole Fegley | produced by Kelly Sosan Bearer
The Integral Chicks are back from an amazing weekend devoted to one of the hottest topics in the Integral Community – Integral Leadership. We joined our friends at the Integral Leadership in Action Conference in sunny Santa Cruz, California and brought along a camera to ask a few of the stellar women in attendance to help us answer the question, “What is Integral Feminine Leadership?” We received some truly stunning and richly diverse answers that we are excited to share with you in the coming weeks.
Integral Leadership in Action is a non-profit organization that grew as an offshoot of the first Integral Institute Leadership Seminar, held in 2004. Following the event, a group formed around the commitment to gather on a regular basis for peer sharing and to continue to define the question, “What is Integral Leadership?”
Five successful events later, the group has evolved, partnered with various organizations including, most recently, the Integral Leadership Collaborative, secured its non-profit status, and made a deep and lasting mark on the community. The question that sparked the original conversation is still a work in progress, and the energy around that inquiry is higher than ever and we want to give a well-deserved shout out to the current board members: Victoria Wilson-Jones, President, Michael McElhenie, Co-Vice President, Terry “T” Poling, Co-Vice President, Kim Harpham, Finance/Treasurer and Jennifer Blalock, Communications.
This year’s event was a smashing success, bringing together 60+ people including such folks as Don Beck of Spiral Dynamics Integral, Brett Thomas from Stagen and the Integral Leadership Collaborative, Cindy Wigglesworth of Deep Change, Jeff Salzman of the Daily Evolver, Willow Dea and Sean Esbjorn-Hargens of MetaIntegral, and Jeff Carreira of EnlightenNext, just to name a few.
From the Integral Chicks p.o.v. (Kelly and Nicole), this was a most special gathering. Personally for us, it marked one of the first times we did not have responsibility in producing the event, which allowed us to be more present and engaged with the community that gathered. And what a community it was! We truly felt that this particular group really stood out in the amount of loving care, support, and excitement each person brought to the space. We had so many heart-felt connections. The We-space was delicious and palpable, and the conversations fruitful and cutting-edge. We came away feeling rested and ready to rock it out in the world. Well done, Team ILiA!!!
Feminine and Masculine Styles of Leadership
One of the hot topics at the event this year was masculine and feminine styles of leadership. It became quickly apparent that these terms were causing some level of confusion in the crowd. What do these terms mean? Are we talking about sex—male or female? Types? Energies? What???
We explored these inquiries in some of our video interviews, and we’ll be unpacking more of this in the coming weeks, but let’s set a bit of a context for how we like to use these terms.
First off, we are not conflating male and female with masculine and feminine. Male and female refer to sex and largely biological differences. In most cases, you can simply look at a person and tell their sex. While our biology undeniably has some effect on how we act in the world, each of us, whether male or female, have access to both masculine and feminine energies, essences or characteristics, and typically fall somewhere on a continuum between entirely masculine to entirely feminine in how we show up and navigate our world day-to-day. These are two of the most general and important types we can consider (types being one of the 5 primary lenses of Integral theory). The ideal practice for this territory seems to start by healthfully embodying our natural essence and then working to cultivate balance between both essences, thus being able to yield what is most called for in a given situation.
Some of the typical characteristics of the masculine include: autonomy, justice, agency, and goal or outcome-driven behavior and intention. Some of the typical characteristics of the feminine include: relationship, care, connection, and being with what is. Scaling out a bit, masculine and feminine are the two sides of the most fundamental polarity of existence. In every moment, we can be a witness to what is arising (masculine) and we are also able to be witnessed and seen (feminine). We breathe out to give life (masculine) and breathe in to receive life (feminine). Light (m) – Dark (f), Sun (m) – Moon (f), Seen (m) – Unseen (f), Yang (m) – Yin (f), the caduceus, and the sacred union of sexuality…all of these are allegories of the masculine and feminine polarity.
According to researcher Carol Gilligan, who studied development of the moral line, both men and women develop through 4 or 5 stages in their lifetime, but go through these stages in different voices, or according to a different logic, which seems to be more congruent with their biology. But, at the highest level of moral development:
…the masculine and feminine voices in each of us tend to become integrated. This does not mean that a person at this stage starts to lose the distinctions between masculine and feminine, and hence become a kind of bland, androgynous, asexual being. In fact, masculine and feminine dimensions might become more intensified. But it does mean the individuals start to befriend both the masculine and feminine modes in themselves, even if they characteristically act predominately from one or the other. – Ken Wilber, The Integral Vision, p.48
Thank you to Carol and Ken for laying down the framework for us! Now, how do we play within this territory? How do we cue into our tendencies and energies in the moment, and generate the most appropriate responses? How do we work with others who are not practicing with their typology? How do we learn from others who have explored this territory, through real world applications, and therefore are wiser in their ways?
That, folks, is one of the major inquiries the Integral Chicks have been focusing on and we hope to offer a little glimpse into this complex and fascinating world of Integral Feminine Leadership!
The Third Way: Integrated Leadership
We start this investigation with a dear old friend of ours, Victoria Wilson-Jones. We met Victoria when a big group (85 to be exact!) of Integral Women got together to practice ILP at the Omega Institute in New York, starting way back in 2005. Victoria, along with other powerhouse Integral Women like Sofia Diaz and Diane Musho Hamilton helped set the foundation for 5 years of these gatherings, and opened up the Integral Chicks’ hearts to their own exploration of femininity.
Victoria is an amazing women, one who we consider to be extremely well-balanced in her energies, capable of huge embrace and love whilst yielding a powerful sword of discernment and showing up with kick-ass action in the world. We love her and consider her a true role model for Integral women. Tune in as she talks about:
- The Evolution of ILiA — a journey through masculine & feminine territory
- The Shadow of Integral Leadership
- The Juice of Creativity
- The Third Way – An integration and balance of masculine & feminine
And, look for our future dialogues with Cindy Wigglesworth, Lynne Feldman, Willow Dea, and Mukti!
Victoria Wilson-Jones is an experienced mind/body/spirit educator and consultant. She has spent the last 27 years assisting individuals in connecting to their deepest authenticity. Victoria has a private practice that focuses on creating and deepening integrated practices that bring together body, mind, spirit, and emotions. She explores and works with the transformative energy of Spirit in many ways–through nature, writing, teaching, yoga and movement as well as through art. Victoria has a Master’s of Science degree in Metaphysical Philosophy from the American Institute of Holistic Theology. She is the founder and director of Sacred Circle™, In the Company of Spirit and Soul Quest to Sacred Spaces. Victoria is also a founding member and current president of the board of Integral Leadership in Action. Check out more of what Victoria’s up to here.
Kelly Sosan Bearer is the Co-founder of Integral Chicks. Previously, Kelly worked for Integral Institute/Integral Life from 2003-2012 and has been a student of Integral theory and practice since 1998. Kelly was ordained in 2007 as a Zen Monk in both the Soto and Rinzai schools of Zen Buddhism. She is a published author in the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice and completed her graduate studies at Naropa University with Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology. She also goes by the alter ego DJ Sosan and has been dropping beats for the integral scene since 2005.
Nicole Fegley, MA is the Co-Founder of Integral Chicks. She is a Certified Integral Coach through Integral Coaching Canada, and has coached with Integral Life and the Integral Incubator. Nicole is the Co-founder, with her partner Clint Fuhs, of Core Integral Inc. A former restaurant owner, she worked for Integral Institute and Integral Life from 2005-2012, and has produced over 40 personal, professional, and spiritual events for the Integral community. Nicole is a senior student of Ken Wilber, studies Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with Daniel Brown and Hatha Yoga and Feminine Embodiment with Sofia Diaz.