Masculine Leadership

Letting Go of the Need to be in Control

Feminine leadership is defined as the leadership style of the 21st Century by some. So what is it, where can I get some and can you remind me why I need it again?

Femininity is the operating system of twenty-first century progress. Women—and the men who can think like them—are creating a future we’ll all want to inhabit.
— John Gezerma, Athena Doctrine

Why?  Because we live in a world that is increasingly global, interconnected, social, transparent and interdependent. This new world needs long term solutions, collaborative strategies and joined up thinking.  These traits are more than a simple preference. In fact it would appear they are more in the needs/must category.  So the traits/skills/characteristics that operate well in this new joined up global economy include:

  • Listening,
  • Communicating,
  • Collaborating,
  • Adapting,
  • Promoting a positive culture where purpose and profits co-exist,
  • Inclusive decision-making and
  • Nurturing of relationships.
KidsLeading

I get excited about this and reflect on the leadership style of most of the wonderful leaders I know.  Because I suspect (perhaps naively) that this style is the preferred (if not yet default) leadership style for both men and women. It's in our nature to want to connect with others, to live harmoniously and happily and support others in their journey from good to great.

Masculine leadership

Masculine leadership (not necessarily only the domain of men) is defined as something that's a top down hierarchical leadership structure, with the boss knowing where the organisation is going and everyone else following - playing their part , just like cogs in a machine. In fact our military forces work this way, police departments and judicial systems, academia, governments and many large corporates are structured around this leadership model. Sometimes even a masculine leadership model is more adversarial in style, which in turn promotes competition, silos and isolation.

Binary model

I acknowledge that this is a binary model. There are many ways to lead and linking leadership styles to gender stereotypes is a narrow way of thinking and continues to reinforce and perpetuate stereotypes. The differences between the way men and other men think or lead, and the differences between the way women and other women think or lead, are probably equally as great if not greater than the differences between the way men and women lead.

But I suspect it helps us to reflect on other options when we acknowledge that another way might just work.  It helps us to step into the realm of leadership more naturally when we understand that there is more than one style in which to do it.  Just as we now understand with the help of Susan Cain and Quiet, that introverts make great leaders too, it also helps those who are less adversarial and more inclusive in style, to see that in fact we might be ideal leadership material as well.

Letting go of ....... and feminine leadership

If you've seen the Ambition Revolution value model and heard me speak, you may remember that I talk about letting go.  In order to lead effectively there are a bunch of things you can/need to let go of. In fact to embracing and embodying confidence around your ability to Step Up, Speak Out and Take Charge ironically requires letting go of:

Where do you see yourself? And where do you need to let go?

  • the need to do it all (from Operator to Dreamer)
  • the need for approval or to be liked (Dreamer to Schemer)
  • the need to do things perfectly (Schemer)
  • the need to know everything (Achiever)
  • the need to be right (Go Getter)
  • the need to be in control (Revolutionary)

Not surprisingly yet somewhat counter-intuitively,  letting go of the need to be in control is required of successful leaders - although it's a far more common trait in feminine leadership. Remember the inclusive, collaborative characteristics where people are valued and relationships are nurtured?  Yep, that's right - this is part and parcel of a feminine leadership style - including letting go of the need to be in control.

Because there are so few role models of leaders doing this well it's still challenging to understand. Our default mode and "ideal" will likely be the masculine leadership model that we see reinforced in the media, on television, in the movies and in baby boomer businessmen who still dominate our boardrooms around the globe. (Self disclosure - I too am a Boomer - but have hopefully seen another way).

Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.
— Sarah Blakely, Spanx

Feminine leadership makes leadership more accessible and desirable

Identifying leaders who operate this way so that you can learn from them is important.  You can read last month's blog on finding female leader role models.

Reading aboutalternative models of leadership might also help you see that it's quite within your grasp to lead - where previously you had considered your style might not be strong enough, or direct enough.

So as you do the work in preparing yourself for you next jaunt or dabble into leadership (whether that's people leadership, project leadership or thought leadership) don't forget to consider how else you might get best results.  Leadership doesn't always mean leading front the top or the front. It can also mean leading from within and encouraging others to embrace personal leadership.

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution

#LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

#CreateaCareerThatCounts #makeabiggerdifference

 

AmandaBlesing
  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

 

 

If you like this article, please pay it forward by sharing it with your network by clicking the little sharing icon below.

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Feminine Leadership Traits - the way of the 21st Century

We’ve all seen plenty of articles about what it is that women do wrong.  Sad to say, I’ve certainly contributed my fair share in that space . Why? Because they get higher read rates from both men and women alike. Case in point, I’ve been publishing almost weekly for one year, and the three articles that have been most popular (and I don’t just mean by a few hundred views, I’m referring to 1000’s of views)?

woman-leader.jpg

(Hint: don’t click on the links if you don’t want to perpetuate the cycle!)

The fact remains that when there is gender diversity in the leadership team – organisations have a better track record of achieving great results including increased productivity, increased profitability, better risk mitigation, higher staff engagement and higher customer satisfaction ratings amongst other things.   

In fact, if there were an “app for that”, it would be an absolute sell out!

The reality however is somewhat more challenging as organisations and governments struggle to meet gender diversity targets, with women hitting up against road blocks, brick walls and glass ceilings of bias, discrimination and resistance to change.

“I haven’t found myself constrained by the male models of leadership because I haven’t found them particularly inspiring, so why copy something you didn’t like?” Ann Sherry, 2015 AFR & Westpac Woman of Influence

Our business culture is pretty saturated with images of masculine leadership as the ideal – strong, decisive, direct and to the point.  Female leaders as role models are still pretty few and far between in business and politics the world over and frequently stereotypes one or two characterestics such as "grace and poise". I'm pretty confident that while grace and poise are wonderful things, feminine leadership is made up of much, much more. 

Additionally there is a tendency for us to fall back on all or nothing thinking - so if one woman makes a mistake, gets something wrong or even behaves less than leaderly - it becomes a transgression for all women, judged by both men and women everywhere.  

So what exactly is it that women bring to the table that appears to add such great value? What do women do right – not wrong?  What are these characteristics/traits/values? And are they limited to only women?   We’re pretty focused on “fixing the problem” but the reality is perhaps these characteristics should instead be highly sought after by both men and women.

The Athena Doctrine - by John Gerzema & Michael D’Antonio explores a bunch of characteristics that are traditionally seen as the domain of the feminine, are great for solving problems in business, and are also seen by younger generations of future leaders as highly desirable.

“Femininity is the operating system of twenty-first century progress. Women—and the men who can think like them—are creating a future we’ll all want to inhabit” John Gezerma

Why? Because we live in a world that is increasingly global, interconnected, social, transparent and interdependent. This new world needs long term solutions, collaborative strategies and joined up thinking.  These traits are more than a simple preference. In fact it would appear they are more in the needs/must category.  So the traits/skills/characteristics that operate well in this new joined up global economy include:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Collaborating
  • Adapting
  • Promoting a positive culture where purpose and profits co-exist
  • Inclusive decision-making and
  • Nurturing of relationships.

As you can see, anyone can do these things - men and women alike. They are not gender specific but more traditionally aligned with the feminine. There is an interesting interview with Janet Crawford on Forbes that highlights feminine leadership traits and how they contribute to great leadership and innovation if you want to know more.

So what can you do?

Do you remember in a recent article on negotiation and bias, we learned that when women are told that good negotiators require listening, communication and emotional intelligence, they outperformed the men in negotiating in mixed pairs?

So maybe if we remind ourselves that the traits and skills that women use more naturally are highly desirable as leadership traits, we'll be more likely to want to put our hand up to lead, to lean in and to ride out the initial discomfort and resistance to change from others.

Feminine leadership traits are alive and well and should be encouraged rather than torn down, allowed to flourish rather than trying produce little “mini me’s”, and also allowed to be diverse rather than limited to simply grace and poise under pressure.

So next time you read articles about what women do wrong, remind yourself again of what exactly is it that women do right – and that it’s not just great for women, but great for business and community too.  

Your thoughts?  Comments below.

If you like this article, please pay it forward by sharing it with your network by clicking the little sharing icon below.

 


  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months