Happy Mother’s Day for those of us in the United States! This thing about mothering speaks to birthing, caring and nurturing. One thing that gets my attention is that this birthing, caring and nurturing shows up in all areas of life. That tells me how important it is.
I have birthed businesses and I know the preparation that goes into it. There is an incubation period and sleepless nights and a launch/birthing period. Then once the business is put out there, there are all kinds of unexpected detours from your original plan, right? And you must keep caring for it and nurturing it and then it grows up and often, you lose autonomy. You get a partner, or even employees and their input changes things.
I was thinking about Geert Hofstede. (Stay with me.) This guy is a Dutch social psychologist and former IBM employee. He designed a system of evaluating cross-cultural competencies in groups, organizations and countries. One of the things he measures is the “masculine versus femininity” attributes of culture.
As politically incorrect as it sounds, masculinity and femininity are cultural constructs. And whether or not we label them as such, the truth behind each energy stands. So, masculinity is associated with competition, achievement and success with success being defined by the “winner” or “best-in-the-field”. To femininity, Hofstede ascribed “caring for others and quality of life.” A Feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. “The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).”
What has this got to do with anything?
The study of leadership theory shows that we have moved from measures of heroic leadership (think Patton and Churchill) to Charismatic leadership (Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi) to transformational leadership.
One of the most powerful things I have ever studied and applied is transformational leadership.
Bernard Bass says, “Transformational leadership is defined as a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.”
It is no longer only about leading sheep and being at the head of the ship.
Transformational leadership requires emotional intelligence which deals with a broad range of skills related to emotional awareness, emotional knowledge and understanding. It is the ability to think and act prudently in social situations and to understand and manage people.
You are going to be hearing so much more about emotional intelligence from me over the next few months. It is critical. If you do not have it, your leadership is crippled.
On the other side of the spectrum from transformational leaders are “Laissez-faire” leaders. Bass says that these folk “delay and appear indifferent to what is happening. They avoid taking stands on issues, do not emphasize results, refrain from intervening, and fail to perform follow-up. They avoid making decisions, renounce responsibilities, divert attention from hard choices, refuse to take sides in a dispute, are disorganized in dealing with priorities and talk about getting down to work but never really do.”
Leaders are empowering rather than laissez-faire when they set the boundaries within which subordinates are given discretionary opportunities. The transformational leader commits resources, support, and caring.
Now doesn’t that sound like motherhood?
For me as a woman, it is exciting to see things balancing out in the business world where we have approached things with a culturally masculine approach and now those lines are getting truly blurry and women, and feminine ways of showing up in the world, are being embraced and valued as in transformative leadership.
Get this: Feminine energy in the business world is emotional intelligence in transformational leadership.
True leadership has both feminine and masculine energy. You must care about people and you must get stuff done.
And embedded within feminine energy is the aspect of mothering which includes care and nurture.
What would your leadership look like if you conducted business with valuable feminine energy?
Let me know your questions and your thoughts.