“Bravery Has no Gender” Kira Rudik and Volodymyr Zelenskyy Lead Like a Woman in the Face of the Unthinkable
Issue 192 — March 8, 2022
I urge you to watch it a few times, not to become fearful but to observe how she speaks powerfully AND with empathy, humanity, and courage. These characteristics are what I mean when I say she leads like a woman.
Rudik’s clear analysis of what’s at stake for the entire world showed her skill as a leader creating meaning for her country and for those of us watching globally: “The war is not between Ukraine and Russia, it is between the global concept of future and past.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy similarly has shown remarkable skill in symbolic meaning, empathy for his people by staying with them and asking for ammunition rather than a ride, and extraordinary calm courage under fire. Yes it is possible for men to lead with the characteristics that make women such effective leaders.
Both Rudik and Zelenskyy show that power can be used not to destroy but to build, create, and make life better for people.
Rudik’s achingly human description of how last week she would have been at Pilates class and this week she is learning to shoot a rifle to defend her country caused Ruhle to ask Rudik why she was staying when she could have evacuated. It clutched my heart again.
That’s when Rudik, the leader of her party, didn’t skip a beat and simply said “Bravery has no gender.” Ruhle later replied, after showing a photo of Rudik standing in bare feet with the Kalashnikov she was learning how to shoot, “You are mistaken. Bravery has a gender and it is female.”
While a tense world watches Russia invade Ukraine with blunt force (the old oppressive “power over” model of leadership), we see over and over examples of bravery from both men and women using the generative and positive “power TO” model of leadership.
To be sure, women have sometimes started and fought bravely in wars.
But because women have so often borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of war, they are less likely to embrace war as a solution, or to seek raw power for power’s sake rather than as a tool to achieve a more positive purpose. This in turn, according to The Economist, contributes to women being less likely than men to be corrupt.
March is Women’s History Month. Precisely because the contributions of brave women like Kira Rudik have not typically been written into the history books, where the narrative of history has so often been defined by wars largely started by men, I kicked off my new “Intentioning This!” LinkedIn Live series March 3 by interviewing cultural historian Linda Hirshman on her latest book, The Color of Abolition: How a Printer, a Prophet, and a Contessa Moved a Nation. The contessa in this instance was Maria Weston Chapman who played an outsized but seriously underreported role in ending America’s internal war to end the brutality of human slavery.
Join me throughout March and April on Thursdays streaming from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (or watch afterward there and on Instagram and YouTube) for interviews of intentional women and men whose courage has led them to start companies, fight for paternity leave and equal pay, provide racial healing, and more. Find the full schedule here. I’d love to have your voice in the conversation.
On this International Women’s Day, you can help bring more women’s leadership to the world. Go to takeleadwomen.com/online course to enroll in my newly updated 9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career. May we lift and support women like Kira Rudik as we lift ourselves.
There is no better time to accelerate women’s leadership globally and in our own backyards, for everyone’s good.
Here are ways you can help the people of Ukraine:
- Alyssa Wright, founder of The Wright Collective provides this list of how women can support women during the crisis in Ukraine.
4. Donate directly to the Ukrainian military. They have set up a bank account for the armed forces.
5. Rent an Airbnb in Ukraine and of course never go. This is an innovative idea that is gaining traction to get money directly in the hands of Ukrainians.
6. Hire Ukrainians remotely. There is are plenty of talented Ukrainians looking for work on sites like UpWork. Some may be abroad sending money back to help their families.
GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of five books, most recently Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. Her signature 9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career online course is described as “life changing” and “jet fuel for my career” by participants. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.