It concerns me that, in the corporate workplace, women and men conform to the masculine model. If we all do that, first, we lose ourselves and become less authentic. Equally important, we perpetuate and ratchet up the imbalance we have in terms of masculine and feminine in the world of work (and the world generally). I don’t want women to become “men” in order to succeed. And I don’t want men becoming more masculine in order to fit in and feel respected. I want men and women to discover the strengths of feminine as well as masculine ways of working and leading.
The term “mansplain” has been coined to describe this: someone who talks as if he or she knows something – and does not listen to what someone else does know. It describes when someone dominates a conversation rather than having a dialogue. Women do it, too; but the term suggests men do it more. I explore reasons for this, including sources from the masculine end of the masculine-feminine continuum. A friend suggests that male birds attract and impress female with bright plumage. Lacking that, human males dominate conversations. I’d prefer plumage to mansplaining!
When you need to solve a novel and important problem, what kind of leader do you want in charge? Does the word “decisive” make your list? What do we mean by “decisive”? Usually we mean the masculine decision style – moving straight to the goal. While this is often effective, the feminine decision style has different benefits, including creativity and buy-in. The feminine style is to gather ideas, synthesize and process. It takes more time but can avoid costly misses. The best leaders can make decisions in both masculine and feminine ways and value both ways in others.
My son gave me a testimonial about how applying the principles of DifferenceWORKS may have saved a business. We often present those principles – appreciating rather than judging differences – to a situation involving one person who operates in a masculine way and another who demonstrates more feminine tendencies. His story involved two masculine men. Rather than strangle his business partner, my son recognized that his colleague was not wrong or defective, just different – and had strengths that were different but important.
The prototypical masculine world view and feminine world view are different. The masculine sees things hierarchically. The feminine sees things in terms of relationships. One “driver” of differences in behavior is the differences in thinking. The male brain is wired for focus and linear thinking. The female brain is wired to gather and synthesize.The reason better decisions come from gender-diverse groups is because of the balance of these two ways of thinking. We need both!