I work with high potential women and the corporations they are a part of, who find it hard to realize the huge advantages pregnancy and the transition to motherhood can bring to a competitive corporate culture.
I see the value in creating a more intuitive and heartfelt business consciousness, with more feminine leaders and more balanced boards and decision makers.
When I shared this recently with a very successful CEO of a multi million dollar business she queried my use of the term “feminine,” confirming she was a very strong and capable leader and wasn’t sure it was necessary to be gender specific.
But as she went on to describe her business journey, she identified the mindset shift that needed to take place before she could “see” herself “as a CEO”. She talked about her desire to create an exceptional experience (language learning for young children in this instance), seeking out experts to help her tackle her fears and her evolution from being a creative person with a business idea to a CEO running a business with creative idea at its heart. She had to let go of the image in her head that a CEO was different to new mother she was or wouldn’t feel like “her” if she stepped up in the ways she imagined she needed to.
As if she was going over to the dark side!
But she was totally in her feminine state – as you’d expect a new mother to be. Focused on feeling, creating and allowing. She needed time to (re) engage her masculine side in order to rise to the challenge of raising capital and getting clear on the numbers.
Whilst being feminine can and often does relate to females, both men and women possess the ability to operate in their masculine and feminine. Drawing on left and right brain function, it’s when we harness a mix of these traits in combo the magic really happens. But why do so many new mothers in the corporate world shy away from being in their feminine and showing their true, authentic self?
Many women I speak to miss or resist the opportunity to really open up to the positive expansion and growth that is waiting as they transition to motherhood. When Julia Pimsleur discovered her passion was greater than her fear, she found the help she needed to move forward. Engaging both masculine and feminine traits #MillionDollarWomen is the spectacular result.
At a recent breakfast briefing focusing on Agile Working as part of a Balanced Leadership series, an HR Director talked of moving away from an environment where there was “not a lot of trust and collaboration” to a place of “self empowerment and self management which embraced rapid change and a non-hierarchical form.” Three senior level Dad’s shared stories of their priority to being present for their baby’s bath time. They make this experience a frequent non-negotiable in their working week because of how it makes them feel to do so.
Gradually, gradually we are opening up to our feminine and dispelling the myths that working less than five days from dawn til dusk does not mean we are taking our foot off the peddle or have lost our drive or career focus as Claire Fox, and Adrian Dyer, cherishing an hours flexibility to walk his child to school and a half day off a week to play, show. Both are rightly honoured in the 2015 Power Part Time List proving that part time working in senior roles works, and is here to stay.
When I talk to women in business about embracing natural feminine traits such as abstract thoughts rather than concrete, calm rather than busy, allowing rather than pushing, power rather than force, patient rather than impatient the penny often drops along with their shoulders; but mention surrender rather than aggression, tranquil rather than striving and it becomes less easy to picture this behaviour at work.
We are so used to the dominant masculine energy of pushing, striving and fighting within the corporate world it can often feel if we are not “doing” we won’t keep up with other men or women.
But the reality is, when we connect to our feminine and truly embrace this “being” side of ourselves, strength, action and performance follow but in an easier, kinder way.
It’s not about only engaging the feminine but allowing the best of both to be present and finding a natural balance that is sustainable.
Whatever your gender.