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It’s Time To Step Into Feminine Leadership

Written by: Jo Oogarah, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

There’s been a lot of talk recently on the concept of Feminine Leadership. In the wake of covid and the subsequent lockdowns, so many of us have been forced to rethink the old world order and what has been viewed as normal for so long. And this has been especially the case for the workplace. Having now had a much more intimate insight to people’s workspaces and the crossover with home life, we’ve now started to see the corporate space as a more human place, and as a result, the awareness of Feminine Leadership has started to emerge.


But where does it come from and what is it all about?

It’s actually been around for a while but not a lot of notice has been taken of it until relatively recently. I came to it after I decided to delve deeper into my coaching practice several years ago and undertook a Women’s Leadership Qualification with one of many organisation. Its roots are in the energy we bring to situations and primarily focus on relationships and qualities of empathy and humility. I’ve been a career coach for the last 16 years but I wasn’t aware of the concept of Feminine Power and Feminine Leadership until I started to learn about it, and it literally blew my mind.


Suddenly things started making sense to me, as a woman. How I found it hard to communicate with my husband sometimes, why I hadn’t felt right in certain work situations, why the world seemed to be slowly falling apart around me. I was excited as to how I could use it to greater effect, to achieve a more harmonious world where people could interact in a more human way and lead authentically, especially for women. It spoke to me and it realised things had been feeling off kilter, unbalanced.


But what I found was that this wasn’t just a woman thing. Femininity isn’t gender-specific. It’s an energy and behavioural concept that is applicable and beneficial to all human beings and is non-gender specific.


So, what is it then?


Well, feminine power stems from feminine energy, and how we interact with others in our relationships and dealings. You might have heard people talk about the Divine Feminine or Goddess Power and if like me, that sounds pretty wafty and floaty and not much to do with power at all, then you really might start wondering why I’m even talking about this in the context of power in the first place. But bear with me.


So maybe it’s easier to think of it like this, the notion that in order to achieve balance in ourselves and our surroundings we need to have polarising energies. A bit like Yin and Yang.


Feminine Power is a counter to Masculine Power, the power we tend to see in the corporate world and also many, what are traditionally considered powerful countries. According to Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions Theory a theory which rates countries and their traits, those countries rated as masculine indicate that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner/best in field and economic output, whereas countries rated as feminine (having a low score) means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life.


Without realising it, if we live in a masculine society we have been conditioned to value these coinciding traits and behaviours. Therefore, in our society, our concept of what makes us powerful is rooted in the outcomes of financial success, results and achievement. I (and many others) believe that we need both in society and the workplace to allow for different styles and viewpoints so that we all feel heard and comfortable. But so far we have been downplaying or ignoring the feminine side of the coin, believing that those softer powers just won’t cut it in the world of work, or indeed in the world in general.


The idea that we could achieve equally good or possibly better results in certain work and personal situations by tapping into more feminine power traits such as empathy, nurture, intuition and emotion (to name a very small few) just hasn’t been explored enough. But if we were to consider that women especially value working in these types of environments and that if, as a result, we’d have a more diverse workforce as we retained and nurtured more women to those top leadership positions, then there’s also evidence that it is good for business too. A recent report from McKinsey & Company revealed that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile”.


I’m not saying that masculinity is bad or that we need to completely change direction and work another way. What I am saying is that by bringing in more feminine power and energy to our leadership models we can create a more balanced approach to harness ALL of our collective power. By making the workplace more of a feminine culture we’re effectively making it a more human culture where people can show their emotion and vulnerability, feel more nurtured and have greater well-being to truly thrive.


There are plenty of situations where on a daily basis we’d get better outcomes if we employed some of these “softer” approaches. In the workplace wouldn’t it feel lighter in appraisals if we could open up more about what’s really going on for us? If in team meetings, networking events and sales conversations if we felt like we could be heard, seen and show up as our true selves without having to put on a hard outer shell to get through them and be listened to? To be able to lose some of the competition and raise each other up instead? If we view our team members as human beings first with lives outside of work which no longer need to be hidden out of view?


The time is now for this shift to happen. Post covid women have been burnt out and men have seen the benefits of being at home more and also to be seen as human beings, with real homes and families. In my conversations with female clients and friends, I’m hearing women tell me they feel a lack of creativity and connection and are working in environments where they can’t say what they want, offices where it’s hard to say no for fear of not being seen to be hardworking and a general feeling of not having a voice or getting to where they want to be. They want change and they’re starting to voice it. So let’s start listening.


The power to change though lies within us all and the starting point is working out how you want things to be and then to navigate your career, your way. Getting clear messages out to senior management about what workplaces need to now look like, especially after the landscape has changed again after Covid, is going to be fundamental to making change happen. We need to bring men into the conversation and realise that this isn’t a woman’s issue or need, and tackle this together, because ultimately it’s better for everyone if we encourage more femininity in the workplace.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Jo Oogarah, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jo Oogarah is a specialist women’s Career Empowerment Coach and has been a qualified career coach for the last 16 years, after making a significant career change as a lawyer. Since experiencing first hand the masculine dominated landscapes of law, the challenges of working motherhood and supporting many women in her own practice, she now focuses on developing Feminine Leadership tools in the corporate space to enable women to find their authentic voices and grow in confidence to effect the changes they want to see. She is passionate about keeping women supported and thriving in their chosen careers to enable talented professional women flourish and develop their full potential through the work that they do.

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