What women can learn from Donald Trump about leadership

donald trump
Image provided by Andrew Cline / Shutterstock

“We are in a new world with many old minds, and the task is to adapt yourself. A modern leader is there to serve”. Shimon Peres, Late President of Israel

On Wednesday morning as news of the US Presidential Election became official I received a text from one of my maternity coaching clients, asking if I had time for a quick call to update on her recent return to work request meeting. I read it quickly and to be honest my initial thought was there was a problem and I would need to step into coaching mode and give her some support to move forward. As I saw her number come up on my mobile I hesitated whether to pick up – we hadn’t scheduled the call and as I was feeling pretty emotional and rather deflated would I be able to give her what she needed in that moment?

As it turned out the reason she wanted to speak to me so urgently and personally was because every request she had made that I had guided her though, had been approved and she felt indebted for the support, courage and clarity (her words) I had helped her find. She was ecstatic about returning to work (sooner than she legally needed to) and felt inspired and excited to continue on her chosen career path. She had found a great nursery and support for her little boy and was trialling the help that morning in preparation for her imminent return. Perhaps it was being awake since 2.30am but I felt close to tears. In a moment where everything felt a bit futile, I was being told the work I did mattered.

As a woman, watching an arrogant man belittle and attack my soul sisters and people of a different race and religion it hasn’t been pretty but we are now moving into completely unchartered territory and a time of uncertainty. A man with no previous political or military experience or understanding of the workings of Government will now attempt to be the answer to America’s prayers for a better economy and a brighter future. His self-belief and lack of concern for his shortcomings, has been unwavering. He tapped into the pain of the American people and convinced many he was right for the job.

Equally in the UK with Brexit we really have no idea what the future holds. The jury is still out but I feel a stronger sense of alignment and confidence in Theresa May. She is at the very least qualified for the job and seems to understand her role.

Donald Trump’s leadership style to date has appeared brash, ruthless, driven and unconventional – all traits that are described as masculine – but there is no doubt having a businessman in the White House could be useful. His acceptance speech showed conciliation; promise to unite – both feminine traits – and perhaps a good speechwriter. Asking for help is another feminine trait we could all use more. As someone used to getting deals done and possibly not hearing ”No” very often it will be interesting to see how he progresses with laws, the constitution and working collaboratively. There is talk he will be a great negotiator and countries such as Russia will be more cautious with him in the White House but the truth is we just don’t know.

There is no doubt that leadership today is more complex than ever and we are facing a division in thinking and feeling like never before. Some people are driven by fear, lack and scarcity and the belief that real change is best to be avoided. Reverting to old ways of working that feel more familiar and safe, where men and women have their place and we shouldn’t try and swap roles.

Others are open to change, believe love trumps hate, and are full of hope, creativity and beliefs of abundance. We have to ask should gender be relevant anymore to the emerging 21st century leader or is now the time when we need to recognise that accepting overtly masculine leadership is preventing us as a society from moving forwards and reaching our full potential.

I personally believe now is the time for our feminine spirit to truly rise but in a powerful, directed way. I am seeing an intensification of entrepreneurial purpose stirred up in women and men. If we can channel this passion into new action at grass roots level does it really matter who is at the top? Well, no it shouldn’t as long as the top is an equal playing field.

“We have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But some day, someone will.”

Whilst Hillary Clinton may not have been successful in her bid for the White House, her candidacy has been a milestone for women but her journey has highlighted the high level of distrust and discomfort many white men and women appear to have, with having a women in the ultimate position of power. If you doubted the glass ceiling existed, doubt no more. Yet in the Athena Doctrine two fathers of daughters shared their conclusive research that worldwide we are collectively seeking leaders with more feminine values or traits. In collating data from over 64,000 people they ascertained that skills such as dominance, aggression and rigidity represent a masculine style of leadership that is not aligned with the virtues of leadership, success, morality and happiness that we want to see. Sadly in the US it seems that around 60 million people disagree.

As someone who has spent over 15 years working with women throughout the pregnancy journey and transition to motherhood I have seen women struggle not to have their career progression derailed by motherhood. They revert to a masculine style of behaviour when they return to work and play down their emotional learning. In fact there is a direct correlation between the skills most of us want to see in a progressive leader and the skills women naturally acquire throughout the pregnancy journey, assuming that is they are open to receiving them which is why I am writing my first book on the subject to be published next Spring around the leadership potential of ‘baby-brain’ – teaching women how to tap into their inherent possibilities, ask for what they truly want and receive it.

Leadership isn’t just about boardrooms and the Oval office. Whilst the decision made recently will have repercussions for us all, it’s up to us to decide if those are positive or negative. We can decide whether as women we want to tap into the fear that becoming a mother means stepping back from the workplace and raising a child who will come into a world that we have had no say in and isn’t as we would like. Or we can find ways to share our parenting responsibilities with our partners, learn how to feel empowered, strong and secure and have our ambitions met. I have substantial evidence that the pregnancy changes that happen in the brain and the body fully equip women to lead. Never more have these skills been needed. Never more do we need to work together. Never more do women need to own their power.


If you are interested in learning more about feminine power and having your ambitions met personally and professionally join our closed Facebook group Bumps and the Boardroom Collective.

We will be launching a new online program to support women and mothers-to-be and WeAreTheCity readers can receive 10% off using the code WATC10.

Lisa Barnwell
About the author

Lisa Barnwell has over 15 years experience working with more than 2000 women and their corporations through the pregnancy journey and transition to motherhood. She is the Founder of Bumps and the Boardroom and leading the campaign “Changing 100,000 Lives” which aims to positively change the maternity journey of 100,000 women and girls by 2020. www.lisabarnwell.co.uk @Bumpsnbabyguru @BumpsHQ Facebook: www.facebook.com/bumpsandtheboardroom

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