Feminine leadership is a novel concept. Most of us are probably used to a traditional culture at work where ‘proper’ reserved behaviour is expected. People keep their distance and approach work and relationships with a sense of formality. What if that paradigm were to shift towards a more compassionate culture?
In the past, traditionally male behaviours, such as tough-minded decision making and competitive aggression, were the standard. At job interviews and when assessing performance and potential, leaders would assess whether the employee had ‘fire in his belly’ or was a ‘fist pounding on the table’ kind of person. There was little tolerance of sensitivity, never mind tears.
Now, however, a sea change is occurring. Workplaces are recognising the value of feminine leadership concepts such as teamwork, empathy, communication and intuition.
When I talk about the feminine leadership style, I don’t mean to exclude men, but to utilise the qualities that are largely considered feminine. These qualities dwell within both genders, your gender does not decide if you will be masculine or feminine in nature. History has many good examples of female leaders who were aggressive and had a masculine approach to politics and business.
Some would identify this move as introducing love into the workplace. Love flows naturally when you create a space for it. People are naturally inclined to good. It’s the business world that makes us resistant and sceptical.
If you are open and accepting, people can feel comfortable around you. People feel better when they are allowed and encouraged to connect on a deeper level with others, especially with managers and superiors. Fear and anxiety is of no help to any organisation.
First of all, you will need to bring balance back to the table, to embody feminine qualities alongside traditional leadership skills. View your colleagues as potential allies rather than threats - especially people in ‘warring’ departments. Ask for their opinions and listen to what they have to say. Incorporate their input into your decision making. Work on inclusion and resist exclusion.
Look out, especially, for policies and systems that discourage teamwork. Foster collaboration ahead of competition.
Use your intuition. Intuition is invaluable, especially in dealings with people. This skill isn’t limited to the female gender. Men have it too, if they simply tune into it, rather than denying its existence or relevance as can be the tendency. Trusting your intuition is a wonderful way to enhance your decision-making skills. It’s in all of us, or the human race would not have survived. Did you ever see a caveman with a spreadsheet or a psychometric test? Of course not - they used their instincts and intuition to succeed and survive. Or a big stick of course, but we don’t want to go back to that.
The reader is a lecturer and writer based in Bahrain.