I am fortunate to be part of #i4j, an amazing network of thought leaders who exchange ideas and look for solutions to global problems, including, of course, the current #COVID-19 world crisis.
This piece is inspired by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox article about the fact that some of the countries who responded well to the COVID-19 crisis have something in common: women leaders. And what are some qualities that mattered for these leaders? Truth, Decisiveness, Tech, and last but for sure the most important, Love. However, what really rang a bell for me (as a licensed psychotherapist, culture consultant and human being) was a comment of another i4j member, Mei Lin Fung: “Women are biologically attuned to the physical and well-being of the family - and beyond”.
For this is the absolute key word: ATTUNEMENT. After working individually with hundreds of people to help them manage their personal crisis, anxiety, etc., and after reviewing the afferent research, I believe that some of the biggest problems of humanity would be solved or would not exist if we elected leaders who have the ability not only to empathize with others, but also to be genuinely attuned to their needs (instead of, for example, obsessing about printing their name of the COVID-19 crisis stimulus checks).
As research shows, genuine empathy cannot exist if leaders are unable to be truly attuned to others’ needs. On the other hand, a leader’s lack of attunement seems to be directly proportional to his or her level of personal insecurity, as well as with their inability to genuinely relate to their constituents, versus using them for personal financial and political gain. As Dr. Gabor Mate, MD points out, attunement has nothing to do with the mechanical imitation of a caring behavior. Moreover,
“[Attunement] cannot be simulated, even with the best of goodwill […]. Attunement is necessary for the normal development of the brain pathways and neurochemical apparatus of attention and emotional self-regulation”
Emotional self-regulation is the key word from my point of view. If a toddler lacks self-regulation and hits or bites the other kids on the playground, that is one thing. But when the leader of a nation lacks emotional self-regulation, consequences are social, economic and ecological tragedy and death.
In a world where every single challenge is framed as a "WAR" (on drugs, on viruses, on terrorism), intuition and attunement are playing a crucial role.
While intuition and attunement are arguably inherently feminine qualities, there are many men who use them in their leadership roles. The problem seems to be that this kind of leaders do not care much about publicity, for they do not experience the desperate need to trumpet their qualities. To reframe an old saying: ask not what the size of the crowd should do for you, but what you can do for the crowd.
If we really care about our security and prosperity, it is crucial to support and elect intuitive and emotionally attuned leaders, who tend to make long term, sustainable decisions, instead of focusing on short term and individualistic -not to mention narcissistic- gains.