What does it mean to bring more of the feminine into our culture and why should we do that? Is there evidence that it helps? In a study in Leadership: Women Do It Better Than Men, Harvard Business Review (https://hbr.org/2012/03/a-study-in-leadership-women-do), Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman identified sixteen competencies that made an individual an outstanding leader. The results showed that women out-scored men in twelve of the sixteen competencies, including: Taking initiative, Inspiring and motivating others, Driving for results, Building relationships, Collaboration, and team work. The Catalyst, November 7, 2014, “Women CEOs of the Fortune 1000” says: “…Women represent only 5 percent of chief executives in Fortune 1000 companies. Yet the data suggests that by adding more women the overall effectiveness of the leadership team would go up.”
When we bring the feminine into business, we are concerned with how people feel and collaboration. There is a focus on how we do things and the impact that has on others. We create an environment/culture where people feel free to be themselves, to bring their honesty of what they think and feel into the room. Where they are comfortable interacting with others, where ideas are easily shared and listened to. Where people are included and respected and the truth is told with love. Where interactions and meetings are intentional and planned so that we show we value others and their time. Where kindness is the rule and listening is key. Where there is openness to information and processes in place that explore reality at all levels of the organization and to the people the organization serves. When we don’t show that we care about how others feel, and that we are open to what they think, when we don’t involve them and show them that they have value then we lose them; they stop contributing so much and they shut down which negatively impacts the bottom line.
All of this means building trust by getting to know oneself first and then one another. We need to learn to be more flexible, open and inclusive. So we begin by looking at where are we rigid and shut down personally. Where are we as individuals unwilling to hear others? What do we think and do that prevents us from being open and inclusive? What causes us to shut others out and stop listening? Your body is the embodiment of you so if it is tight, you are tight. The body holds the patterns that are in your mind. And the organization holds the patterns that are in its leaders. We need to get to get in touch with the body and our feelings to understand and shift out of the old patterns that block openness, inclusion, caring and kindness.
If we get out of our heads and into our bodies and open up and get into the flow and get out of the rigidity and connect with others, we open to the earth and a higher wisdom. If we get out of the linear, analytic, fight model and into a more open, inclusive way of being we get us in touch with more information, more insight and more ways of working, solving problems and leading. When we are open to more we can hear more options, be more creative and innovative.
And then we need to build understanding of what makes others tick. Who are they and what do they bring to the group? The more we know them and they us, the more we trust each other. What is the history that has impacted each of us and how does that play out in our behaviors? What works and what doesn’t work in those behaviors?
We need to learn ways of working that create more collaborative interaction and more cross over of silos, information, and sincere desire to include vs. exclude. We need to learn to connect and this takes examining where we are blocked from connection with ourselves and others. When we work together in a safe environment, people are free to share their ideas and be creative and productivity improves. If the leadership is not open, and not aligned with its values then you will lose the energy of people because they lose trust and don’t feel safe.
Identify and call out disconnects in yourselves, others and the organization. This takes a building of trust and courage. Alignment is critical. Your alignment with your values in terms of what you think, how you act and what you say. If we are aligned, it means we are in line with our values, we live them—we are authentic. We don’t just say that we value our people, we deliberately spend time with them. When we are with them, we are really present, not preoccupied with our next activity. Our behavior demonstrates our values. Alignment means we are connected with ourselves and others, and therefore, we make ethical choices. Acting from an aligned place, we also do what is right for others, because when we are aligned, we are also connected to others.
Alignment means that we are in touch with ourselves—we know how we feel, and what supports us, and we face the signals that let us know these things. Alignment means that if we are in a job that is not in line with who we are or who we want to be, that we have the courage to face this truth—and eventually do something about it. In our internal dialogue, we respect ourselves. We do not say we value love and then treat ourselves with anger or hate. If we do this, we do not really value love, and we are not aligned. We are stuck in an old pattern that does not nurture us and saps our creative energy.
Learn “resonance.” When a tuning fork vibrates, it sets up a vibration in surrounding matter. This is resonance. When you resonate with a task, plan, or vision, you have the same frequency and are thus in alignment with it. Assessing if there is resonance in any activity requires getting out of the head (thinking will block your ability to resonate) and into the body—in the moment. When you don’t resonate with something and still take action, you are forcing or willing action, which may be in opposition to flow. When you force action, you can cause suffering for yourself and others; you are most likely not at peace. Actions are not in alignment, so the outcome is not as productive. When you resonate with what you do, a sense of peace pervades the work. Synchronicity, coincidence, and positive outcomes are more likely in this state.
Learn the language of kindness. Many of us are raised with harshness and we are not aware of the impact of this harsh language, which pushes people away. Even if our intentions are good, if our language is harsh or blaming, the impact is negative and people shut down and stop participating so you lose their precious input. Make observations, not evaluations.
Observation vs. Evaluation
- Description of behaviors——————Judgment of behavior
- Specific description ———————-General criticism
- How it makes me feel———————-Interpretation of behavior
- (When you do that, I feel …)————-(you don’t care)
- Make a specific request——————-Make an accusation & demand
- (can you try not to interrupt?) ———–(if you don’t stop I’ll ignore you)
- Creates openness————————–Creates defensiveness
- Creates Curiosity—————————Creates surety
- Creates a sense of equality————–Creates an attitude of “better than”
- Is caring—————————————Is shaming
Anger creates a lack of safety. People need safety to trust that they can share who they are and what they think and feel. As a leader, if we are angry, we need to look deeper and find what is the unmet need that is creating our anger, and then make a request. When listening to others, if they are angry, inquire more to find their need beneath the anger. All language implying insult, wrongness, criticism and judgment comes from our anger that comes from our thinking. Translate judgment of the other into a need that’s not being met (e.g., “they suck” to “I need time to process”). Listen to Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication.
Clearly the “fight” model is not working to relieve our society’s suffering; fighting just gets us deeper into the fight (see Julie’s article, The Victim Tyrant Cycle https://www.changeworksinc.com/professional0.html). So it will benefit us, our relationships, our companies and our country to bring more of the collaborative, listening, kindness mode to the table.
Julie Roberts lives in Pennsylvania one hour west of Philadelphia. She consults with groups, individuals and children to help them move into their full potential. She specializes in personal and professional change so individuals overcome obstacles to productivity. She utilizes energy psychology, muscle testing, counseling, and Family Constellation work to help individuals clear the blocks in their life. She conducts workshops that improve leadership skills, teaches CLEAR®, and guides individuals through a healing change process. She has taught CLEAR in Russia and Nigeria and she is certified by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP).