Embracing Feminine Energy in Business
by Jacob Aldridge, International Business Advisor
I want to introduce you to one of the more controversial approaches to modern business: the concept of Masculine Energy and Feminine Energy, and the impact that they have on organisational design and strategy.
Women represent 60% of university graduates, but just 37% of the full-time workforce and only 17% of CEOs. Is it because women aren’t smart enough to lead? Or do you think perhaps there’s a fundamental flaw at the heart of business theory?
This is the question posed by the #1 Bestselling leadership book Visionary Male Leaders, when it was launched last week. Full disclosure – I am one of the 15 business leaders from around the world who was asked to share their insight in the book, taking a practical look at how to integrate BOTH Masculine AND Feminine leadership traits in your business.
Why The Controversy?
What could possibly go wrong with a book by 15 men about what it’s like to be a woman in business?
And while we are leaning into that disruption, the reality is that the book is not about gender. The controversy stems from misunderstanding, from people misinterpreting “Masculine” to mean “Men” and “Feminine” to mean “Women”, and thus seeing this as a gender debate.
There are some overlaps. The Feminine energy is more common in women, while Masculine energy is more dominant for many men, including myself. But in reality we are all a combination of both energies, most of us default to a preference, and sometimes that default goes against gendered assumptions.
I believe ignorance on this topic is a fundamental reason why gender equality in leadership positions continues. Business – as we contextualize it, as we teach it, as you learn in an MBA or from your favourite podcast – fails women because it was neither
designed by women nor for the Feminine energy most commonly found in women.
The system was built in a Masculine space, and to change the outcomes we need to embrace a better balance.
Masculine v Feminine Energy
Let me walk you through the different characteristics. Masculine energy is linear. It is very outcome-focused. It values problem solving. It enjoys growth from competition, from challenge, being out there and tracking down new challenges. The Masculine is often looking and living in the future. This approach can be toxic or supportive.
Contrast that with the Feminine energy, which is much more present-focused. The Feminine energy values connection, processes, relationship, growth through support and nurturing. This approach can also be supportive … or toxic.
You are a combination of both of these energies. It may be that you recognize, particularly in a business context, one or the other as being more strong and more dominant.
One of the greatest issues facing business in the 21st century is that we continue to implement solutions, strategies, processes that were built by Masculine energy, for the needs of the Masculine energy.
Let me give you a great example that often goes completely unnoticed by most businesses – your “Mission Statement”. Your Mission Statement is cultural, it’s a feeling thing. But the very fact that we call it “a Mission Statement” reflects the fact that (like so much else in Business Planning, Org Charts, levels of management) it comes from a military background. It is a very Masculine way of viewing your business.
Our mission, our purpose, our future, living out there somewhere. And for a lot of men (and some women) that kind of future connection is what gets them up in the morning. It’s fantastic.
But for a large segment of the population, it is a disconnect. The higher mission is way out there in the future, and they don’t wake up each morning thinking about where we’re going to be in 10 or 20 years’ time.
They wake up to do great work today. And when you keep telling them about the Mission Statement and they keep feeling that the Culture today is not unsupportive, they are not going to connect with your business.
We have a fundamental issue (again, this is a generalisation) that a lot of women struggle to come back into the corporate workforce, and finding themselves with less of a career path and unable to identify their purpose within modern business.
And there’s your opportunity.
The Fundamental Problem is a Fundamental Opportunity
If this whole aspect of personal happiness is being disregarded by a lot of businesses, then imagine the attraction for a business that actually supports the Feminine energy. The “Great Resignation” just means people of all genders are quitting their old jobs, to come and add value to your team.
As I outline in my book, making such a change comes with challenges but is something well within your power to complete.
Have a look at your business processes. Have a look at your strategy. And ask yourself how much of this has been built to look forward into the future and to promote growth through challenges, through competition. And how much of how we’ve built this business has been done in a nurturing, supportive space to focus on the present, the experience that our team have when they come to work every day.
Both energies can be healthy and can be unhealthy. There is no right or wrong. There is an opportunity for you as a business owner, especially if you are a business owner who lives and prefers the Feminine energy, who knows that an awful lot of the strategy and business advice you receive has not been built for you.
If you feel disconnected as a business owner or as an employee if as an entrepreneur you feel you are struggling to fully embody your authentic self in the business world, understand that it’s probably because you’re being told you have to be a certain way.
When you know, deep down, that you are not that other thing. You do have a choice, to create a business that embraces the Feminine and the Masculine energy.
- If you want to explore this topic, to learn how it applies to your personally and to your team and vision, consider reading Visionary Male Leaders on Kindle or in Paperback
- Review your energy. Which feels more strong for you – the linear, future Masculine; or the nurturing, present Feminine? Can you recognise both characteristics in yourself?
- Examine your Vision, Strategy, and Operational Systems. Are you currently creating a balance of BOTH Masculine and Feminine? Are you choosing to lean more heavily in either direction? What impact in that choice having on your team’s happiness, performance, and retention?
Thank you for allowing me to explore this critical topic. Next month I will return to the Business Lifecycle conversation, and perhaps with the Masculine / Feminine filter we can apply that tool to better understand your feelings and communication as a leader.