Yin and yang, masculine and feminine, whatever you want to call it... men and women bring very different energy to relationships.
Why is this relevant to your business? I’ll tell you.
No matter what business you are in, a successful business is built on relationships. Your ability to understand your own balance of feminine and masculine energy, as well as the balance of others, will directly affect how and with whom you do business.
Let’s be clear that when we talk about the masculine and feminine energy, we are talking about just that—energy. Men and women each possess both masculine and feminine energies and qualities.
Masculine energy is encompassed in strategy, focus, drive, and ambition. Feminine energy is found in creativity, intuition, compassion, and empathy. All of these qualities are not only important in business, but they are also essential.
At one time in the not so distant past, the business world was a man’s world. It was seen as hard, fast, and tough. The first women to break tradition and take on leadership roles in business were conditioned to be aggressive, cutthroat, and competitive. They didn’t show compassion or vulnerability, because that would have been seen as a weakness. Business is business—and emotion had no place in business.
However, change is upon us and many of the most successful businesses in the world are now run by both men and women. More and more, we are seeing feminine sensibilities and qualities being woven into the very fibre of modern business models.
The evolution of B Corp businesses (a social and environmental private certification available to for-profit companies) are an incredible indicator of this shift. Triple bottom line businesses that honour people, passion, and profit are born out of and built on feminine traits like kindness, collaboration, and creativity. Companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy all incorporate the feminine concept of “business as a force for good.”
The sharing economy, co-working, and impact investing and are also bi-products of this shift. Instead of competition, segregation, and capitalism, we are seeking ways to collaborate, build community, and profit-share in our businesses.
We still have a long way to go but, culturally, the tides are turning. With the state of our planet and its people more precarious than ever before, the need for change is now.
While it’s true that men and women possess both feminine and masculine qualities, it should also be noted that, generally speaking, men and women tend to have greater strengths in their respective masculine and feminine traits.
Studies show that women in management positions tend to place more emphasis on communication, cooperation, affiliation, and nurturing than men, as well as having more communal qualities. It is no wonder, then, that as we find ourselves in economic, environmental, and health crises and we look for new ways to solve old problems, we might also shift from a male dominated workplace to one that is more gender balanced and even puts leadership into the hands of women.
That being said, men tend to show more strength than women in the areas of focus, drive, and risk-taking, all of which are integral to business success. Not only that, having men on your team can help alleviate some of the gender bias that does still exist, especially when it comes to raising capital.
According to Penelope Trunk (Brazen Careerist): “More than 90% of venture capital funding goes to men. We can talk all day about why that is, but instead of philosophizing, just get a male partner. Having a man and a woman on the team will get you access to the boys’ club (yes, there still is one) and it’ll get you access to the funds set aside for women in an effort to make inroads in that boys’ club.”
Many female entrepreneurs that I work with have male mentors, advisors, and partners citing that they help keep them focused and encourage them to take risks. In one case, it helped to secure funding.
No matter how you slice it, the fact remains that each of the genders possesses qualities unique to the individual, regardless of gender. All of these qualities are essential to business. Why wouldn’t you want the most diverse team you could gather with the widest range of skills and qualities both men and women have to offer? It seems like a no brainer to me.
~ Rebecca Kirstein