This paper problematises the ways women’s leadership has been understood in relation to male leadership rather than on its own terms. Focusing specifically on ethical leadership, we challenge and politicise the symbolic status of women in leadership by considering the practice of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In so doing, we demonstrate how leadership ethics based on feminised ideals such as care and empathy are problematic in their typecasting of women as being simply the other to men. We apply different strategies of mimesis for developing feminist leadership ethics that does not derive from the masculine. This offers a radical vision for leadership that liberates the feminine and women’s subjectivities from the masculine order. It also offers a practical project for changing women’s working lives through relationality, intercorporeality, collective agency and ethical openness with the desire for fundamental political transformation in the ways in which women can lead.