The conversations about gender equality in the workplace continue to increase, and women have never been in a stronger position to lead, change and shape the economical, social and political landscape. Yet invariably my conversation steer towards stereotypes about the differences between men and women and the typical stereotypes.
The stereotype male leadership qualities are called out in the extreme, traits such as, competitive, commanding, aggressive, non-co-operative, selfish and controlling. Women are the other hand are seen as emotional, weak, non-productive, chatty, unfocused or indecisive. Yet I know of many successful women who show up as the alpha female, in control, decisive and assertive. On the other hand, some of my inspiring male leaders have been compassionate, empathetic, chatty and co-operative. Does this make them any less of a man or woman, or indeed any less of a leader?
Is our confusion between masculine/feminine energies and gender blurring the debate?
Energy vs Gender
Any personality profiling will lead you to understand your energy, or natural preferences, regardless of gender. You may find you are more logical, skeptical, challenging and goal orientated, thinking rather than feeling type. Or you may find yourself in the sphere of connection, collaboration, support, stability and cohesion. In the world of DiSC, I am describing the D and the opposite S profile. I am also talking about masculine and feminine energy.
We all have a mix of masculine and feminine energy, and the more successful leaders are able to bring forth both energies to inspire, connect, vision and execute, with authenticity. Yet the stereotypes of successful leaders is still based on the masculine. For both men and women to be taken seriously in some organisations, they feel the need to amplify the masculine.
Yet in the 21st century, we recognise that we need balance, balance in terms of gender, but also in terms of masculine and feminine energies. Being able to use your authentic energy is critical to being successful, and acknowledging that everybody has a mix of both energies, is powerful in creating diverse cultures.
You can dial-up your masculine energy any time you choose, but remember to nourish your feminine side too. Speak up, defend your position, challenge and be decisive, but also nourish reflection, communication, slowing down and collaboration. Step into the being and the doing, together, not separately, and notice how the results are different.
So although conversations about gender are so necessary, so too are the discussions about the gender stereotypes associated with behaviour. Let us embrace both the masculine and feminine energy in all of us.