To avoid stereotyping, I use a prototype named Fran to describe feminine approaches to work and a prototype named Max to represent masculine approaches. All of us are both Fran and Max; we are “Frax.” A person who understands and appreciates both approaches can be “Frax-wise. in the sphere of personal effectiveness, a Frax-wise individual can shift his or her approach depending on the circumstance. In the sphere of relationships — working with and leading others — being Frax-wise enables one to appreciate and leverage difference, increasing engagement. In the sphere of organization, Frax-wise leaders understand how differences in Fran and Max create obstacles to gender diversity — and eliminate them.
It is natural for newcomers to observe a group’s norms and conform their behavior. Adapting can be exhausting, especially if done unconsciously or for too long. But adapting our behavior is sometimes important for our effectiveness. If I “flex” to be more effective, I am not being inauthentic — any more than I am inauthentic if I try to speak French in a meeting in France!