In honour of August and it being Women's month, I thought it to be appropriate to write a blog on "Leading with Femininity" and what it actually means. At first glance, it seems to mean women in leadership, which of course it can mean. But that is not the full meaning. Leading with Femininity encompasses breaking the mould of typical leadership and daring to be different to disrupt traditional industries and leadership therein. In building strong workplace cultures, engaged teams, and nurtured high-performing businesses, Feminine leadership is key.
Feminine leadership is another one of the 21st-century leadership models emerging out of the old, hierarchical, top-down, control leadership model. Just like any other leadership strategy, Feminine leadership focuses on a well-rounded, healthier approach to business and community.
According to Bill George’s article in the Harvard Business Review, “In the 21st century, the most successful leaders will focus on sustaining superior performance by aligning people around mission and values and empowering leaders at all levels, while concentrating on serving customers and collaborating throughout the organization.” (Bill George, Harvard Business Review).
For too long in the business world, Feminine qualities have been disallowed and shied away from in all aspects of masculine-dominated workplace environments however, we cannot continue this way. We are seeing an increase in Feminine leaders because the world needs us.
Masculine leadership can sometimes be seen as aggressive, while feminine leadership can include more nourishing traits. Many women have alienated themselves from their core traits, in trying to "fit in" and thinking that they don't comply with modern business standards. Where being female historically was seen as a weakness and many had to fight and break ceilings to be taken seriously in a world that believed in masculine-dominated environments.
We think that we aren't going to survive in business if we aren't headstrong and lead people in a more “masculine” way. We feel a constant need to prove ourselves equal, even if it doesn't feel right. As women, we have at times given up on our true values in the hope of attracting more attention from clients and gaining male respect. However, every time you opt to deny your authentic nature, you are doomed to fail and fall.
Like men, women also have some amazing traits, but we're often afraid to use them in the work environment. I believe that our world would be a better place if we stood up more for our natural traits, embracing them and allowing them to prove their efficiency. Doing so, we wouldn't disguise our femininity in our leadership.
In my opinion, the following traits are included when thinking of feminine leadership, and are important to build high performing businesses and building conscious leaders:
But even more importantly, Feminine leaders have emotional intelligence. They use their skills in emotional expression, communication and implementation to raise and diffuse any situation. Emotional intelligence is quickly becoming a highly ranked skill set when looking at competencies. There are four parts to emotional intelligence that is: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. This is where trailblazers in Feminine Leadership will stand out.
All the above are powerful qualities that need attention from everyone in order to make feminine leadership flourish in business. We all need to embrace our “feminine” side and allow it to be in business. We need to stop just doing what we’ve always done.
Both men and women can exhibit feminine leadership qualities, but the tendency, both biologically and culturally, is for women to embody them more. Promoting feminine leadership is less an issue of male vs. female, but a question of whether we are overlooking qualities that may be crucial to navigating 21st Century business challenges.
So, I encourage we all look deep inside and tap into the already amazing qualities we women have to transform leadership in our own businesses and for men to embrace and learn a few of these traits to build powerful and high performing companies. For more on this, you can watch the following video.