For years, women have been trying to level the playing field at work and compete with men as equals. We’ve used power suits, held in emotions and pretended to have always-on energy. But as the world wakes up, it’s becoming clear that more dominant, masculine energy isn’t what the world needs. In this post I’ll introduce the attributes of masculine and feminine energies (completely separate to gender) and why, as leaders, we need a healthy balance of both to steer our businesses and teams to success.
By the way, I’m not judging if you’re a woman who’s done any of the above. For centuries we (all genders) have been conditioned to suppress our innate feminine qualities, believing them to be weak and less valuable than masculine qualities. However, it’s because the patriarchy who led this systematic suppression recognised the very power of the feminine that it worked so hard to repress what it feared.
Moving away from the myth of one being better than the other
We need to move away from the idea that men and women have either masculine or feminine traits/energy and that one is better than the other. It’s time to remember the ancient knowledge that we can only truly achieve greatness when we have our own healthy balance of both.
To compare men and women – in the workplace or anywhere else – is completely invalid. We are clever and strong in different ways. As women, we’ll never reach the standard we’re being held up to. It’s impossible because we are not the same. We have to start seeing the value in the feminine instead of the outdated images we have come to accept.
In, If Women Rose Rooted: The Power of the Celtic Woman, Sharon Blackie points out:
“In seeking to restore the feminine in our culture, then, it’s critical not to lose sight of the fact that the cause of our problems isn’t the presence of masculine qualities in the world, but rather the fact that those qualities have been allowed to become dominant and, because they are not moderated and held in balance by appropriate feminine qualities, they often become pathological. The masculine striving towards achievement, production and domination takes hold and spirals out of control, while the feminine qualities of relatedness are suppressed: relatedness to other humans, to the non-humans who share the planet with us, to nature and the rhythms of nature, as well as to the rhythms of the physical body and the stages and passages of our lives.”
To compare men and women – in the workplace or anywhere else – is completely invalid. We are clever and strong in different ways.
Thanks to the systematic suppression of the feminine by the patriarchy, we’ve been living in a world dominated by masculine energy and ways of being. And wounded, unbalanced masculine energy at that.
We all have a balance of masculine and feminine energy (which is completely separate to gender). In Chinese medicine the divine feminine energy is known as Yin, and the divine masculine energy is known as Yang. You’ve probably seen the symbol showing the balance of each.
Each type of energy can be broken down into traits that show up when the energy is healthy and balanced and traits that show up when it’s wounded or out of balance. I believe much of our misunderstanding comes from the perception that the wounded traits are the only representation of each energy.
I know one of the reasons I thought feminine traits equalled weakness was because I judged women for being pathetic and needy when I wanted to be strong and capable. I didn’t want to be helpless and that’s what the feminine represented to me. When we don’t see good examples of balanced masculine and feminine energies in our lives, it makes it even harder to understand how to marry the two for good.
While being needy and a victim are traits of feminine energy, they represent the wounded feminine not the healthy aspect. Below is a list of qualities that are associated with the masculine and feminine energies.
|Feminine Energy Traits||Wounded Feminine Traits|
|Masculine Energy Traits||Wounded Masculine Traits|
Abuse of power
It’s only when we (as people, a team or a culture) combine a healthy mix of both that we get the best results. The creativity of the feminine can go nowhere without the action and direction of the masculine. The giving of the masculine is only sustainable if we also drop into our feminine and allow ourselves to receive.
Feminine traits in the workplace
It’s vital that we recognise feminine traits in the workplace as equal, but different, to the male qualities that for so long have been deemed the only qualities required for success. We need to encourage this energy and construct space for it to live. If we want our people to create then we need to design an environment where they can allow the ideas to flow. If we want our teams to be courageous we must allow them time to be still to understand what their truth is.
As leaders we need to demonstrate a healthy dose of feminine energy in the context I’ve written about here. We need to give others permission to do the same. There’s strength in listening to your intuition and standing strong in that deep knowing. There’s strength in kindness for others. There’s strength in recognising and displaying emotion. And there’s strength in allowing yourself to accept help.
Whatever gender you identify with it’s time to go within to find your redefined strengths and live these out loud at work and in life so others can do the same.