I sat down with women’s leadership expert, author Puja Madan to discuss the crisis of leadership we face now and the possibilities of a new era of women’s leadership.
SB: So Puja, why is it so important that are we talk about women and leadership now?
Currently, there are more and more women who want to break away from the shackles of traditional work. Women want to have a life that doesn’t isolate family with work or vice versa. The current system requires them to choose.
Traditional work systems are designed by men, for men. There’s not a lot of wiggle room for a woman to thrive while keeping her sanity as she juggles her different roles as a partner, mother, or community member. Stress levels amongst women are higher. There’s a sense of unrest and a desire to live with more intentionality and wholeness.
More and more women want to do their own thing on their own terms.
We are in desperate need of systems of marketing, business building or time management that are more women-centric.
SB: As an expert in women’s leadership and mindfulness, can you talk about where those two actually connect?
PM: I think women are spiritual without knowing that they are. They are connected to everything in own being, and everything around them. Intuitively, psychologically. There is this capacity of women to tap into the interconnectedness of everything within and around them. When she’s forced into a work environment that compartmentalizes everything, she feels stifled, it’s debilitating for her soul.
The new era of leadership for women is one where mindfulness is at the foundation of everything she does. Awareness and intention become the bedrock on which she creates her business and how she shares her gifts.
SB: Tell us a little about you and your background. . . What brought you to this type of mindful leadership for women?
PM: I started work at a tech startup and my spiritual journey at the same time. They were such different parallel worlds. Very masculine and feminine. In the work environment I was required to be a good decision maker, reach sales figures, number cruncher, good trainer, good team manager. My value was ascertained by how well the metrics showed up. It was exciting and stimulating for my mind. To be challenged, to learn new things, to stay on top of technology trends.
Then there was the spiritual pursuit in the weekends and nights. Soft, feminine space, in touch with emotional energy. I learned about the connection between body and mind. I was tapping into my intuition, in a receptive space. It was opposite from my day job which was rather active and all about taking action and initiative.
SB: Was there a turning point in the practice of leadership for you?
PM: A few years into this, I realized how polarized my work world and spiritual world were. I couldn’t bring one into the other. So I had to leave vital aspects of my being, intuition, trusting the process etc. at the office door when I walked in. I was being trained to use excel and be more logical. Spiritual gifts weren’t needed. The inner conflict I felt in jumping from one world to another – it felt like they would collide.
In 2009 they did collide. I found I had fibroids bigger than my uterus crushing it. I knew the stress had caused this. Symbolic, that the most feminine part of my body was being crushed by giant tumors. It made me question who I was, what I was doing, and whether I was living in harmony with all my different aspects. Spiritual, mental, physical.
My immediate priority was to heal myself. It also became the turning point in my life. Marianne Williamson says, “when you get on your knees you end up listening to something greater than you.”
I opened up, I learned about a coaching certification program, moved to America, speak, write, coach people to share about the bridging of these two worlds.
SB: How have you seen sharing this new model of women’s leadership benefit you or clients of yours.
PM: Something profound happens when a women taps into her own inner reservoirs of wisdom, strength and power. From there, with the right tools, she knows, and so suddenly you see her making decisions that are more aligned. Setting healthier boundaries. Saying no to what doesn’t line up, releasing of guilt of how they should be working and living. That frees up space for her to be operating in her full creative potential.
The clients I’ve worked with have streamlined their businesses to feel aligned and energized. For many of us we keep going at it, without asking ourselves if we really love it. So instead, to have that joy back. Continuing to make more and working less hours. They’re taking Friday off and creating time for who and what they love.
SB: What is your vision for the world as move into this model of feminine leadership?
PM: Ultimately the world needs more women in positions of power, and influence and leadership. This has to happen from the inside out. When women are emotionally, spiritually, and financially empowered, they become the fountain that can give, without losing their essence. So an inside-out approach to power and leadership that empowers not just the women directly but also their families and communities.
Susanna Barkataki, M.Ed. E-YRT 500, wants to know what’s next in yoga and wellness. She’s the founder of Ignite | Yoga and Wellness Institute that teaches and supports leadership for wellness and human potential with 200 and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Trainings and Health Coaching certifications. You can learn more about her at www.SusannaBarkataki.com
Puja Madan is an author, leadership coach and speaker specializing in mindfulness and intentional productivity for high performing women entrepreneurs and leaders. For more info visit: www.wildradiantwoman.com. To discover your productivity archetype take the free assessment here:www.wildradiantwoman.com/assessment