The Power of Embodied Leadership

An article by Marti Glenn Ph.D. about Embodied Leadership

An exploration of the power and benefits of Embodied Leadership for today’s effective business teams.

A new kind of leadership is being called for!

The old ways of doing business are shifting as we are living through a momentous transition… economically, culturally, and spiritually. When we desire change in our outer world, it is also a calling to do the inner work. Today’s leaders understand that their success is in direct correspondence with their ability to self-lead and govern their own inner world. They want to live their true purpose, make a profound impact, and seek balance and deep connection. They are looking for Embodied Leadership.

Something new is emerging and we need leaders who stand on a firm foundation of self-knowledge, and who can use all their internal resources, including their intuition and feelings. It is time to lead with heart and embodiment.

What we need now is Embodied Leadership

Moving beyond simply meeting goals, satisfying board members, and monitoring shareholder value, leaders are being called to consider the externalities of social impact and have a more inclusive view.

This requires a deeper engagement with life itself and a broader foundation of support. We can no longer simply rely on knowledge and facts. People crave more.

The antidote is the bridging of both mind and body. This supports us to handle difficult feelings, understand the experience of another person, use our intuition, and consider the whole picture. We are being gently guided to use all our resources, to come home to the full brain-mind-body-being of the self, and to engage with life more deeply.

From this place, we can access our inner knowing, our intuition. We have more clarity and can make decisions that help us personally while benefiting our colleagues, our company, and the world.

“This is the decade of embodiment”

The visionary declaration of Daniela Wetzel, who helped organize the
recent virtual Embodied Living and Leading Conference with over 400,000 participants worldwide.

Ginny Whitelaw writes about embodied leadership in a recent edition of Forbes. “Embodiment is trending. At a time of deep divisions and discontent, the dissociations of head from heart, of talk from walk, of action from a felt sense of its consequences, are wholly inadequate for dealing with the wicked issues we face. It’s not surprising that an antidote is resonating, what many herald as an emerging stage of human development in which the clever head re-integrates with the deep wisdom of the body. Embodied leadership is showing the way!”

Lead from the heart, not the head

Science clearly proves that to be successful and to thrive, we must move beyond ideas, knowledge, and thinking and include the whole brain, mind, and body. Research from neuroscience, epigenetics, polyvagal theory, and psychology are all demonstrating that taking into consideration and working with the whole person, using all our internal resources, helps us become more effective leaders.

In the past, we valued knowledge and the ability to just get the job done. Now we realize that we cannot lead from the head alone. We must include the heart. We must lead from the heart. 

Nothing external can change us. Learning facts and good ideas will not make us better leaders. There are no quick fixes but there are mindful, whole-body processes that can help us move from where we are to where we want to be.

Embodied Leadership (Learn More>) incorporates the recent and important trend toward mindfulness and moves beyond the concept of a decade ago of “emotional intelligence.” This new form of leadership incorporates much more than knowledge and strategies; it embodies the whole person.

Embodied Leadership combines business knowledge with compassionate insight into employees and team members.

How to become an Embodied Leader

“We can no longer afford to make decisions with distracted minds, reacting instead of responding.
We can no longer lose touch with what motivated us to lead in the first place.”

Janice Maururano, Mindful

The practice of mindfulness is paramount!

In order to answer the call to fully embody all that’s possible and step into the power of our wholeness, we must first slow down, take a breath, and survey our internal and external landscape. Simply slowing down and “noticing what you notice,” gives us a broader perspective and greater choice. There is power in the pause.


We think of mindfulness as being present, in the moment, focused, and aware. We simply notice our experience, while calmly acknowledging and accepting whatever is happening right now.

By practicing mindfulness, we consciously cultivate our ability to be present, open-minded, and compassionate when interacting with our colleagues and our teams. As we do this, others around us naturally begin to slow down and feel accepted and appreciated.

Mindfulness also involves what we call beginner’s mind: Regardless of how much experience we have, we become mindful and, moment to moment, invite a beginner’s mind. Not assuming “I already know this,” but just being curious and open to the experience in the moment.  Every experience is new.

Mindfulness begins with awareness of the body

Take a deep breath and try this with me now…

  • Right now, notice what happens when you pause, take a deep breath, and become curious.
  • See if you can slow down and watch your breath flowing in and out.
  • Notice how you’re sitting and if there’s anything you might do to make yourself a bit more comfortable.
  • Keep following your slow breath and either close your eyes or find something pleasing to focus on.
  • Know that this is for you. This moment, this breath, these few seconds.
  • Take this into your day. Notice what happens as you slow down and become aware.

From this place, we can recognize feelings and emotions and keep them under control, especially during highly stressful situations. Mindfulness helps enhance our effectiveness and overall performance as well as grow connections with those we work with, those we love, and those we serve. We can no longer make decisions with distracted minds, reacting instead of responding.

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying!”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Along with mindfulness, embodied leadership (Learn more about Ryzio’s Embodied Leadership program >) displays that who you are and how you show up are more powerful and important than what you say or do. We lead by example. The more present we are, the more we cultivate trust, and everything goes more smoothly.

When the whole mind and body wisdom are integrated, there is greater access to unconscious information, “gut feelings,” and intuition.

Our own needs as well as the needs of those around us become more apparent and easier to track. We can proceed from a firm footing, filling our own cup first, and then filling the outstretched hands of those around us.

With mindfulness and self-care, the embodied leader is better able to manage and reduce stress. By modeling self-care, we bring understanding and support to those around us.

Practice deep listening and authentic caring

In the past, leaders were not always prepared to hear about the personal lives of team members or listen to their personal needs. We now know from recent research that feeling heard and being witnessed is vital to productivity.

Creating emotional safety is paramount

Safety – it is often misunderstood yet so important! By safety, we mean the feeling of being welcomed and accepted, a place where your nervous system relaxes. When we slow down and deeply listen, we create feelings of safety for ourselves and everyone around us. Feeling heard and understood, and feeling like, “who I am is enough and what I bring is valued here” is vital for successful teams and a successful business.

An Embodied Leader is someone who:

  • Practices mindfulness and presence
  • Makes authentic connections at work, with friends, and at home
  • Listens deeply
  • Has the ability to hold space and maintain balance
  • Embodies trust and cooperation at an intuitive, deep level
  • Lives and leads with heart and compassion
  • Is aligned with intention and core values
  • Sees their own potential and recognizes the potential of others
  • Has the ability to cultivate meaningful relationships with love and integrity
  • Lives their true mission and purpose
  • Makes a difference in the lives of those around them
  • Creates profound impact, for themselves, their company, their families, their communities, and the world

All the wisdom for Embodied Leadership we need is available to us. It is within us. Working with mentors can guide you to become the embodied leader you were born to be.

Related articles:

  1. Part 1 – The Gateway to Quantum Leaps for What Is Possible for Us as Humans
  2. Part 2 – The Gateway to Quantum Leaps for What Is Possible for Us as Humans