I love it when this happens – a participant asks a question or makes a statement that sums up the underlying point of my work. It happened recently at the end of a workshop I was conducting with a mixed audience (by Skype).
We had focused on differences in masculine and feminine communication style. We had talked about how men and women are more effective if they can use both styles of communication, observing the situation and shifting to the appropriate spot on the masculine-feminine continuum. I had mentioned the Stanford study showing that women are rewarded for being able to shift between masculine and feminine styles. I had stressed that men also are more effective with this skill — referencing John Gerzema and others who see that effective leaders balance masculine and feminine strengths. And I had spoken about the energy required to shift and the importance of shifting authentically. In describing the cultural pressure to shift to the masculine style, I said, “That’s not the world I want.”
As we reached the end of the session, a young man spoke up. He said, “I get your point that the workplace has historically been masculine and that people, particularly women, need to shift their style in that direction to succeed. But I don’t think that is the world you want. We want workplace culture itself to shift and become more balanced, right?”
I could have hugged him. “You just summed up the very purpose of my work,” I replied, “I want much more than a world where people can navigate and succeed in a masculine world. The world I want is one where masculine and feminine ways of thinking and working are modeled in leadership and valued in business cultures.”
What do you think would be good about a world that reflects a balance of masculine and feminine energies