Who is in your Tribe: Influential Leader?
The Power of a Pack
In the African culture, women often congregate to support each other through significant life transitions. This may take the form of family relationships, friends, and the community. Usually, older women surround the midwife and the younger woman as she gives birth. One of the elders would remain with the new mother, teaching her the new wisdom of nurture and, more than anything, ensuring that the young infant survives. The various celebrations, initiations, and weddings that would be a part of a young woman, women are at the center of everything that supports these stages. They are fierce protectors and will be an essential wise counsel of her development into a dignified and wise woman.
Similarly, they will be there in her tough times. When she loses a family member, they support her through the process of mourning. This is how we survived and carried the lineage through generations.
This weekend, I was reminded of that when a group of women assembled to support one of our own. She had just gone through a harrowing experience in her Corporate life. Surprisingly, out of a group of 6 women, 100% had gone through a similar experience. That speaks volumes about the slow moving systems of inclusion, which compelled us to protect viciously. A loving, senior tribe member coordinated the group. I will call her the mother hen. In a true mother hen nature, she was the first one to be aware of the hawk’s presence in time to gather her chicks under her wing.
We all need a mother hen who will intuitively know when things are not okay with us. She comes in the form of a Senior leader, a friend, a Coach, or a book club leader. She is a God-sent support structure and is often even more impactful than close family bonds. She was needed for this time.
A tribe of women
It is vital to have a tribe of women around us to help us navigate the harsh realities of a Corporate season. If your current friendships are not helping you through Corporate challenges, you need to build a network of women who can help you navigate the different phases and spaces.
A tribe of women is a group with varying experiences, most of which are in their senior years of the Corporate cycle; most have even long exited. These women, through their experiences, help us put our journey in perspective. They allow us to openly share our shocks and inner horrors, helping us regulate and stabilize. We can then move forward and take action from a position of power.
The significant fact about this weekend is that through shared experiences, she had access to a variety of perspectives. Everyone was willing to open up and share what they had gone through. The descriptions used to explain the emotions of these periods were: loneliness, humiliation, isolation, betrayal, fear. However, the critical message was that she would get through this phase.
While the tribe did not necessarily have all the answers, she at least had a moment of feeling heard, validated, supported, and hopeful. Everyone understood that it was time to hold the space to process what she was going through. It was a safe space to share her experience openly, and there was no judgment. By the time she left the meeting, she had renewed hope and knew it would pass.
Life gets busy; we get busy. With all of this, identify women you can be vulnerable with and who can be part of your tribe. If you have the mother-hen instincts in the group, rise to your calling and help others. Just make sure you have your mother-hen to help you deal with the twists and turns of leading a tribe.
If you are part of the tribe, prioritize relationship building. Erica Keswin, the author of Bring Your Human to Work, says: To make these connections, you first have to decide if it is essential to you.” Make time for the tribe, keep links alive and nurture them. When it comes to building relationships, you often get what you give.