Influencing Two Ways: Valuing Masculine and Feminine Approaches

The masculine form of influencing others is based on a hierarchical world-view. The feminine form is based on building and maintaining relationships. Those (men and women) who influence in a masculine way command, tell, and demonstrate dominance. Men and women who influence in a feminine way do so through persuasion. We can wisely use our understanding of these differences, and the strengths of each approach, to be more effective. Our understanding and appreciation of these differences enables us to be more inclusive. Leader who appreciate these differences are aware that they can create obstacles, for example, for feminine leaders who do not “lead from the front.” They can see leadership strengths in those who lead collaboratively.

Must All Good Leaders “Lead from the Front”?

Concepts of good leadership are often associated with how men tend to lead (masculine forms of leadership). The feminine form of leadership is different but equally effective. Sometimes the results achieved by women who exhibit feminine leadership styles are overlooked. The focus is on how they operate and how it is different from the norm. Getting gender diversity at the top requires that we expand our definitions of leadership.

Is “Feminine” Gaining Favor?

In the past, I found women more willing to describe their approach to working as masculine than men to describe their approach as feminine. I see signs of greater value for feminine ways of leading. I find men in my workshops talk about when a feminine approach is most effective. I have friends who proudly claim their feminine strengths. I see articles praising the positive aspects of feminine leadership — and increased interest in feminine forms of leading. Descriptors of leadership are becoming more gender neutral. Hurrah!