What does a woman need? Not just in her business but in all the areas of her life.
Why do I ask? Because a woman is in the center of things, much bigger than leading specific things — it’s an entire UNIVERSE of responsibilities that every woman carries.
Even today where partners, happily, share more roles in the household and the family, women still are the ones that are expected to take the “traditional female” roles PLUS the “traditional male” roles as leaders in business, government, community, and globally.
There’s a Comfluential™ aspect to this — that of male and female characteristics coming to the forefront in different ways. Tell me if you’ve ever heard of, or experienced these:
- In a family full of boys and one girl, who is the one that leads (and likely the only one doing) the caregiving for the older parents? It’s the female because she’s the one with nurturing, empathic, big vision abilities to see what’s needed for the person’s care, carry it out, and be present and caring for them.
- In a mixed-group team or committee, who does everyone turn to, to take notes and make the action list? Right, the most sensible woman in the room. Sadly, this becomes a stereotype of “secretary” from back in the day when it was considered among the only suitable jobs for a woman. But it makes sense when the person has the feminine abilities to visualize the project, define roles, clarify expectations, and understand the collaborative plan.
- In a moment of crisis among family, friends, or even work, who steps forward to comfort, hug, calm everyone and make them comfortable, put the bandaid on, make a cup of tea, jump to front-line care? With thanks to ALL the males who call up their feminine strengths to step forward — more often it’s the woman who jumps in with the right skills to manage the situation, and is expected to do so.
- The woman may work all day but still comes home to most of the household duties and burdens. The male keeps his social routines and the woman conforms to his schedule. The dad steps up with the family, but hands the kids over to the mom for the “big” (or uncomfortable) things. “She’s just better at it,” which may be true but, because of old societal norms, it can be a knee-jerk assumption.
Why did we see women leaders doing better with COVID in 2020? Let’s call out just a few: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland, President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed who took action days before California’s governor or Los Angeles’ mayor did. Their feminine characteristics of vision-setting, people-orientation, empathy, collaboration, defining roles, and out-of-the-box thinking were especially needed to deal with this crisis.
Am I blasting all males? No!
My point is that society has not yet given up its outdated assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, and prejudices when it comes to women and their capabilities.
So, as we step into greater roles of leadership in traditional male-centered areas (and bringing out those masculine strengths in ourselves), we’re still often ALSO saddled with all the traditionally female responsibilities.
Society has not caught up, as we know, on many levels of gender-related identification, concepts, and stereotypes!
What I see happening is that women are still expected to MANAGE and LEAD everything. D. We’re expected to manage our friends, family, aging parents, relatives, children, committees, get-togethers, businesses, teams, finances, careers, social life, community involvement — and I’m sure I’ve left out something!
Do we wonder why we experience burnout?
Women (and men) need Comfluence!
Confluence™ is a holistic leadership approach, style, and mindset that calls out the feminine and masculine qualities in all of us to varying degrees. For women, when we identify this fact (well-researched and time-tested), we’re able to see more clearly what we’re bringing to the table — conference table, kitchen table, picnic table (you get the idea…).
In any situation, we get to choose what qualities and strengths we can tap into and take advantage of — and bring them forth unapologetically! We also get to choose how we are going to take leadership in our lives (please read What does Comfluential Leadership look like? ), when we are going to “delegate” (please read Five Keys to Mastering Delegation, and when we are going to stand up for ourselves (please read “I’m speaking”).
I find in my work with women leaders that this knowledge is an absolute game changer! I see it in business and want you to know about this in your personal life too.
I’ve been selected for jury duty. It’s a criminal case and we’re given six counts to deliberate on. We go to the jury room, appoint the foreperson, and get to work.
He is experienced and seems like a great choice. But as the day progresses, he seems hesitant and keeps asking for more information. I’m feeling increasingly frustrated (by the way, I’m leaving for a cruise in a few days and don’t want to miss it!). At the end of the day, he wants MORE information and we hadn’t moved anywhere. We’re still where we were when we started!
So, the next morning I decided to try something different. With six sheets of flipchart paper and some markers the bailiff has given me, I enter the room with the others. I tape the sheets to the wall and write six counts on the sheets as well as what it will take to convict each count (my male strengths are front-and-center, commanding the room, taking action, getting analytical and assertive – respectfully, of course).
I open a dialogue with the group to look at the evidence in front of us. I invite everyone to discuss and deliberate carefully, and not rush to judgment but to get some productive movement forward. My feminine strengths come into play here, helping lead a discussion that has everyone feel heard, ask questions, and collaborate on the outcome we’re looking for.
Long story short: We render a verdict on all six counts in less than an hour! We knock on the door of the bailiff’s office, who comes in and says, “Yes, what do you need?” We say, “We’ve got a verdict.” He literally stops in surprise. Both the judge and bailiff ask us, “Are you sure??”
I invite you to look at your own full plate of responsibilities in your work and home life. Start to see what things you can take off that plate by considering these things:
- Is this mine to do? Is this mine to do ALONE?
- What things do I love doing? What things do I detest doing, or I’m just not good at?
- Am I leading this particular thing by bringing in a “team” who can collaborate to get this done? If not, how can I do that? Who can I ask?
- What can I delegate to others, either in my sphere of relationships or literally hire out? (It might look like a dog-walker, home deliveries, senior care consultation, dry cleaning — your time is precious and worth spending the money if you can!)
I would love to hear what you come up with and help you in any areas where you feel stuck. Comment below so others can benefit from your ideas. Schedule a quick chat with me here and we’ll talk.
Be courageous – dare to lead!