A new target of 33% of women board members is recommended. However, in my work with hundreds of clients, it is becoming increasingly apparent that it’s not so much about the numbers that matter, but what we bring to the table.
In this mad dash to break through the glass ceiling and claw our way to the top no matter the consequences, we have often shot ourselves in the foot. We’ve been trying to beat men at their own game, but research suggests that women who succeed in typically male tasks are more disliked, derided and disrespected, and as a result many lose their self-esteem alongside their health, as over-working and overachieving often leads to burn-out. Women in management often don’t come across as women in the feminine, caring sense of the word.
Now is the time for a massive paradigm shift. Woman around the world are coming into their own as a new understanding is sweeping the planet, encouraged onwards by the Dalai Lama who said “The world will saved by the Western Woman” and by Desmond Tutu who suggested that men should take a step back and let women take the lead, as men have messed it up.
When things we do don’t seem to be working, the tendency for women is to try even harder instead of doing things differently or doing different things.
So how would it be if women stop being second rate men and become first rate women instead?
The ‘Feminine’ has had bad press, but it doesn’t mean being weak and feeble, pale and interesting, or demure and subservient. The feminine in her full flow is feisty, creative, wise, strong, elegant and softly powerful, and tuned in to what is best for future generations.
What follows are 7 steps to help you begin your journey into Feminine Leadership.
- Do what you love and love what you do. If you are not truly, madly, deeply passionate about what you are doing, you will not bring the best of who you are to work with you. So find something you care about and go and do that. It’s an unfortunate fact though that those who want to change the world so desperately are often those who burn out first - you need to be aware of this.
- Be willing to care and nurture yourself. If you look after yourself first, you will inspire health and vitality in others around you, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and within the company itself. This means looking after the feminine body that you own, and allowing your authentic self to emerge - not taking on testosterone-producing behaviours and exercise that knock your hormones out of whack. So this means optimum nutrition, following your hormone cycle and delegating when you need to rest more, exercising in fresh air and connecting with the real world, with nature. It also means nurturing yourself with activities that make your heart sing, rather than making your cortisol rise!
- Take heed of your instincts and wake up your intuition. In this massively over technological age, we have all but forgotten to tune into our instincts, and often ignore intuition in favour of logic and in the desire to fit in. But it can cost you dearly. Both instinct and intuition can be likened to your internal satellite navigation system. Great inventors of the past and some of the most famous people on the planet are great advocates of listening to and honing this guidance inside.
- Give up trying to behave like a man - we have been taught that the only way to the top is to be like a man in the way we hold our bodies, the way we think, the way we dress, the way we behave. But what if that isn’t the best option? This is all about a harmonious balance between our masculine energy - the more outward-going decisive, powerful, focussed, analysing, busy, hard-working side - and the more yielding, receptive, calm, creative, allowing feminine side. Both need to work together - it is never a case of either/or, just flowing alongside each other.
- Be gracious with those coming up from under you and progressing in their careers. Support, encourage and mentor them rather than seeing them as competition. Not only do we need to teach men about women, but we also need to teach women how to nurture other women in business as opposed to being judgemental, critical and detrimental towards them.
- Understand that you are at your most influential when you are coming from your authentic self, one who is in tune with who she really is. It’s about the way in which you own your body and own the place in which you stand. It’s about your radiance, your smile, your connection and your presence. Influence is a state of identity.
- Let go of the addiction to old unhelpful behaviours; learn to 'dance' with adversity, resilience, endurance, confidence, vitality, creativity and passion, honouring all the successes, both great and small that you have achieved in your life. Nourish your intrinsic strengths and amazing qualities of being a woman in her feminine.
Stripping away the male mask that so many women have or think is essential, will reveal a far more in touch, in tune and versatile woman, which will unleash the true potential and success that lies within her.