May 20, 2022 | Carolin Mueller-Bretl

Embracing the unknown

The following is one of six case studies on Feminist Leadership from the FAIR SHARE team in our latest publication Leading for Change. Explore the rest as well as 10 case studies from Committed Organisations.

I have been working in the social impact sector for almost 20 years now for organisations of different sizes, in different team formats and settings, with different types of leaders and with a growing range of responsibilities. Looking back, I would say that I didn’t really reflect on the existing leadership cultures, question them or actively want to change them when something didn’t agree with me. Within my own leadership responsibilities, I have mostly acted according to my instincts and have done quite well with it.

In my two years at FAIR SHARE, I have now been part of a process of actively and intensely looking at (feminist) leadership and organisational culture and trying out different approaches to find my own feminist way. This is, of course, a constant learning process that can be very challenging and interfere with the daily workload which simply must be done. At the same time, we are beginning to internalise Feminist Leadership, operating according to these values without having to stop and decide to do so.

In addition to the fact that the Feminist Leadership process is very personal and intimate, where you are more involved with yourself than you might be used to in your professional life, it is also a learning process within a team and is linked to your team members, who no doubt have different personalities than your own. Besides the justified and needed enthusiasm for Feminist Leadership and the wonderful opportunities it offers for our own work and our organisation, I realised how crucial it is to acknowledge that everyone learns at different paces. My experience shows me that our own feminist expectations must be constantly reflected upon and adapted to all those involved in the process, so that common ground is created.

One of our next “feminist leadership challenges” at FAIR SHARE is our CEO’s upcoming sabbatical, which will realign the existing team structure, redistribute responsibilities and will certainly have an enormous impact on individual learning processes. I am really looking forward to being part of this challenge, to actively shape and implement a new structure and to take on a new level of responsibility in the organisation. This is an important opportunity for us all at FAIR SHARE to once again explore and embrace the unknown, knowing that at least we’re in it together.

What does Leading for Change look like?

Explore more experiences, insights and learnings from our team and 10 leading social impact organisations.