“The way in which we think of ourselves has everything to do with how our world sees us and how we see ourselves successfully acknowledged by the world.” ~ Arlene Rankin
Perhaps you think feminine means something girly girl — things that are sweet and pretty. So in your mind, a feminine approach has no place in business, politics or leadership, because it lessens your power. After all, these arenas have long been dominated by men and you have to be tough to survive in them, right? It isn’t possible to be tough and feminine at the same time, is it? Well, the answer to these questions may surprise you…
In the context of business and the world scene, we believe the feminine leadership style can effectively be used by both men and women, as it refers to developing the behaviors, characteristics, and skills that women have quietly used for centuries to successfully guide their families. It’s a powerful, yet subtle, influence that brings out the best in each member of the family or team to create a synergy of the whole accomplishing so much more than any individual effort ever could.
What traits characterize the feminine approach to leadership?
Women bring a passion to their leadership. This trait enables you to put heart into all that you do. We’re invested in the outcome, it’s not just a job.
Women have learned how to be flexible and resilient as we balance home and work life. We often care for multiple roles of responsibility simultaneously so we know how to quickly collect and assemble data into complex patterns as we weigh all the options to make the best decisions. (Most moms do this every morning when they get their children off to school with clean clothes, backpacks, completed homework, lunches, and pick-up and drop-off schedules all in order.)
Women tend to see the big picture, because they pay attention to the human element not just the cold, hard facts. Yes, they’re comfortable acknowledging “feelings” within themselves and others.
The feminine leadership style relates with others, while keeping ego under control. It looks for ways to connect, to hear, and see others. We seek to inspire and build, which multiplies our impact, rather than separate and diminish our efforts. People respond to this caring energy. It fosters creativity and excellence, as others feel accepted and valued.
Feminine leaders are natural collaborators and can create and motivate teams, because we do it every day within the family unit. We’ve learned to hone our sensitivity to assess the mood in a room and have the courage to say what needs to be said. We know that men and women think differently; work to understand each person, rather than being dismissive of their contribution.
Feminine leaders are authentic in all they do. We know who we are and we’ve grown comfortable in our own skin. We’re not afraid to follow our dreams and be the author of our journey. We’ve learned how to speak what we believe and have the strength and presence to be ourselves, while welcoming everyone around you to do the same.
The feminine approach takes advantage of the power that comes from softening your stance. It’s no mistake that a ball is round. Rounder objects handle stress better. This is well-illustrated by what engineers have learned about designing airplane windows. Airplanes, at first, used square windows. However, when jets began flying faster and at higher altitudes, two planes fell apart in midair. They came to realize that sharp corners of the square windows were natural weak spots where stress concentrates. Curved windows, on the other hand, have no focal point, so it distributes the stress. Feminine leaders don’t let everyday stressors make them rigid in their thinking and physiology. They’ve learned to soften the body and roll with the punches both literally and figuratively.
As you looked at these traits, how did you feel? Do you feel like you’re fully utilizing them in your approach to leadership. It’s not always easy, is it? Some women have felt that they must adopt leadership styles that make them acquiesce to the status quo or become ‘one of the boys’. Sadly, this reduces your effectiveness, as they don’t allow you to use your strengths and skills fully.
We appreciate what Mary Beard said in Women & Power: A Manifesto ,“You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.” Let’s be at the forefront of this change! When we chose the phrase, “we do power different” as our tagline, we wanted to emphasize that we are moving beyond the divide and conquer model of leadership that has been in use for much too long. We invite you to take this journey with us. Start by filling out our thought-provoking PADLE questionnaire. It’s a leadership model that makes sense!