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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Jul 26, 2017

Nina Simons, co-founder of Bioneers and director of Everywoman’s Leadership program, talks about her passion for leadership and the power of diversity. Nina exposes the biases that hinder us from realizing the full spectrum of human contribution.  In all her work, Nina aims to reveal deep, insidious imbalances, or ‘stories,’ that underlie our leadership. Cultural values form biases within us. Revealing those biases can offer a greater array of leadership choices.


Key Takeaways

[3:12] “Cultivating Women’s Leadership” workshop participants are selected from diverse women who are purposeful and motivated to effect change. They clarify their leadership motivation. They explore gifts of women’s leadership and growing each other’s leadership skills. “Regenerative Leadership” workshops are for all. Participants improve their effectiveness and ability to recharge and regenerate.

[6:55] In all her work, Nina aims to reveal deep, insidious imbalances, or ‘stories,’ that underlie our leadership. Cultural values form biases within us. Revealing those biases can offer a greater array of leadership choices. 

[10:47] Nina’s career has been informed by a passion for diversity — of agricultural seeds, of the ecology, and of society. Diversity is nature’s safeguard against extinction. Bioneers involves 13 constituencies for global change. WDN involves women philanthropists to effect progressive change. Everywoman’s Leadership features diverse women as leadership models.

[17:41] Nina gives advice for leaders to build diverse teams. Cultivate a deep valuing of the multiplicity of ways that human beings show up. Recognize our own lenses and blinders, so we create a work environment that invites and includes all.

[20:23] Nina worked at Bioneers with Dawna Markova, author of numerous leadership books, who said, “One of our most common mistakes as leaders is that we think that people who think like us are smart, and people who don’t think like us are not.” This taught Nina that Bioneers needed to draft people who did not all think alike, for a system that represents the whole of human capacities.

[23:29] As leaders, one of our greatest assets is our vulnerability. Owning our mistakes cultivates us as learning organisms and organizations. We need diversity of mind, heart, spirit, and body. Nina says we all have masculine and feminine within us, and as leaders, we want to be able to pull from that spectrum traits that are needed at any given time.

[26:06] Nina discusses the confidence gap between women and men. It starts when girls are trained not to boast, not to assert themselves, and to hold themselves back. Girls orient more toward service for other people. Boys tend to orient more toward achievement for themselves. We need many more role models of women in STEM and other technical fields. Self-assurance is needed.

[29:29] The Iroquois Six Nations were inspirational to the suffragettes, as a culture where women’s wisdom was valued. Women select Chiefs based on their observations of young boys’ behaviors, seeing which of them are most attuned to the needs of the whole. The drafters of the Constitution drew upon elements of the Six Nations, but they did not adopt gender equality.

[32:00] Moonrise features 38 women and 2 men. Common themes were leaders responding to internal motivation, not external authority. It was the work of their hearts spirits to respond. They led with their whole person; body, spirit and mind. Vulnerability was a strength. They were collaborative, using relational intelligence, modeling respect and dignity for all living things.

[38:40] Nina notes leaders who inspired her: Terry Tempest Williams, who led her to imagine herself in multiple roles, Nalini Nadkarni, creating social innovation to save rainforest canopies, and Judy Wicks, co-founder of the business alliance for local-living communities.


Website: Look for the Bioneers Conference in October.




Facebook: Nina Simons


Twitter: @ninabioneers

LinkedIn: Nina Simons



Nina Simons, co-founder of Bioneers and director of its Everywoman’s Leadership program, is a social entrepreneur passionate about reinventing leadership and restoring the feminine in us all.

Nina’s work currently focuses on writing, speaking, and teaching about women, leadership, diversity, nature, and systems thinking. Nina’s career has spanned several decades and has traversed working within the corporate sector, and working within the nonprofit sector. Nina has a bird’s-eye view around leadership and how it manifests in those different realms.


Books Mentioned in this Episode

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart, Edited by Nina Simons


Also mentioned on the show: