Is Your Leadership Style Too Masculine?

Ever since the industrial revolution, the business world has defined successful leadership behaviors as those based on masculine traits such as, being task-focused, negotiating hard, taking charge, being rational at all costs. Until recently, more feminine behaviors such as building relationships, caring for employees and coaching people by listening and asking questions were dismissed as unnecessary or even unproductive. Therefore, you may have mastered these highly masculine traits and have lost touch with your more feminine side. You may get great business results most of the time, but feel disappointed to receive feedback such as ‘You are too bossy/ too aggressive/ dominating/ controlling.’ You likely also feel that you hold the burden in private relationships and have to “wear the pants in the family”. Are you tired of this?

What is the problem with using mostly masculine behaviors and very few feminine ones? The world is changing! Values like transparency, sharing-economy, agile innovation are sweeping the marketplace and wiping out old-fashioned masculine-dominant companies (think Lehman Brothers, Enron). The companies who are thriving are the ones who are successfully fostering creativity, employee well-being, and less rigid hierarchy (think Google, Zappos)… these are feminine traits!

Those of you who understand how to tap into and feel comfortable using these behaviors in your leadership are the ones who will be leaders in the new economy. Unless you are able to use both the traditionally masculine behaviors as well as the feminine ones, you are likely to feel lost and confused about why your career seems to have hit a plateau.

Some other signs that you may have an imbalance:

  • You are highly productive, at the expense of your relationships and health
  • You usually take the lead and get frustrated when others aren’t similarly pro-active.
  • You are constantly making progress in work and life, and never take a real break.
  • You find yourself over-analyzing everything, unable to let go.
  • You often find that you ‘take it all on’, and no one is around to help.
  • You ‘have it all’ yet have the nagging sensation that something is missing from your life.

How to resolve the imbalance? Take some steps to integrate more feminine behaviors into your life and leadership.

There are 1000s of way to do this, and here are just a few examples. Experiment with some of these in the next few days:

  1. Next time someone comes to you with a problem, ask at least 3 open questions and listen well to the answers, rather than giving your suggestions right away.
  2. When problem solving or brainstorming, resist the urge to create order. Do not try to make sense of the discussion immediately. Let chaos reign for at least 20 minutes, uninterrupted. See what new ideas emerge!
  3. Reach out for help, even if it is for something as simple as asking someone to hold a door open for you.
  4. Spend 10 whole minutes doing NOTHING. Just BE for ten minutes, making breathing your only task…See what happens!
  5. Reach out to a colleague to collaborate on a project you would normally handle alone.

If you have an imbalance toward the masculine (most of us do!!), some of the above exercises will be challenging for you.

Need help?

Learn how to integrate masculine and feminine leadership for yourself. Join us for our 7th run of Whole Leadership on March 9-10, 2017 in Zurich, co-led by Margo McClimans and Arzum Akduran. It takes place in Coaching Without Borders rooftop offices with an inspiring view over the rooftops of Zurich West. Click here to learn more…

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