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The leadership equation: harnessing the power of balanced leadership

At a recent breakfast seminar with senior leaders in the City, we explored how the right fusion of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ leadership creates more profitable, engaged and diverse businesses. With the conversation touching something unique and relevant, it made for a hugely inspiring experience for our guests and us alike.

The conversation encompassed:

  • Our millennials just don’t see gender’. So, organisations are ready for something new on this.

  • Without balance in our language and business narrative, we can miss the feminine.’ It’s time to include in our vocabulary ‘intuition’, ‘compassion’, and ‘nurture’ as much as 
‘results’ and ‘performance’.

  • Leadership energies get interpreted vastly differently when held by men or women when men nurture it can be seen as paternalism and strength in women is often viewed as bossiness.’ Our passion and focus is to help take men and women out of the straitjacket of stereotype and free up leadership potential for all.

Following the seminar, our guests said:

Professional, positive and thought-provoking – without too much time commitment … I will try to encourage people to be themselves and bring their whole self to work!
Leslie Wolfe, General Manager, MAXIMUS UK

Engaging, impressive speakers and attendees and great discussion.
Margaret Stephens, Partner, KPMG LLP

The conversation also encompassed:

  • Leadership development for our board should include these discussions.’ Our guests recognise these leadership energies as qualities, behaviours and skills that can be taught and developed and are a gateway to far greater inclusion, profitability and sustainability.

  • ‘Women have adapted for a long time, it’s now time for traditional organisations and male counterparts to adapt.’ We want to shine the light on how women and men can evolve together and thrive in more balanced cultures.

  • ‘How can doing more of what brings you joy and bliss at work actually be part of how a business operates at its best?’ A different language brings a different sense of possibility as people, not just employees.

  • ‘These leadership energies are essential to bringing in all our capability in times of uncertainty.’ Change is a constant and most businesses are still struggling to get the people bit right. Continued business success in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world means we need more authentic leaders who can enable everyone to access the full breadth and brilliance of being human and bring their whole selves to work.

When we free ourselves up from traditional stereotyping and the legacy of the past, and instead choose to use a fusion of qualities that are perceived1 as feminine, such as intuition, empathy, collaboration and nurturance, and those perceived1 as masculine, such as courage, decisiveness, independence and resilience, a huge amount of creative energy is released and that impacts stakeholders, culture and profit. These essential leadership energies are available to everyone and a balanced leadership approach is a practical, tangible step to making significant headway in creating change.

Our own work in coaching, leadership development and change harnesses the best of the balanced leadership equation. An imbalance towards the masculine exists in many cultures and manifests as an over-reliance 0n independence in the absence of collaboration, analytic and rational thought in the absence of intuition and empathy and resilience in the absence of sensitivity and nurture. Including more feminine energies leads to more balanced leadership behaviours, more inclusive cultures and more profitable businesses.

Of course, each organisation is different, with its own hot spots of leadership energies that are thriving and other frozen places where blocks persist. Through taking a different approach that engages and invites more balance, we can unfreeze resistance and enable the seeds of balanced leadership to take root.

What other guests were saying after the seminar:

“We need more female partners and female senior managers and we need help to achieve this. … Very interesting session that will lead to a meeting with your team.”
David Green, Partner, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

“The exercise was powerful – excellent way to really focus on how male/female qualities manifest in our organisations. Really brought it to life.
 … The concept of asking someone to articulate what bliss and joy they have at work – LOVED that!”
Audrey Stewart, Chief People Officer, WorldRemit

April 2016

Note:

1 Perceived feminine / masculine qualities comes from 2013, 64,000 person, 13 country research study that among other things asked people to rate qualities on whether they perceived them as masculine or feminine. Separately they asked respondents to identify the most desired qualities of a modern day leader. These combined a mix of masculine and feminine qualities, however with an emphasis on developing the feminine.