Beyond the Gender Code

By GOLAKAR in Daily Musings
Updated 08:45 IST May 25, 2017

Views » 716 | 4 min read

“Times they are a-changing”, these eternal words of Dylan’s have never been more relevant than they are today. Everything around us is really changing at the speed of light, except maybe the number of women leaders in business. A Catalyst report revealed, women held under a quarter (24%) of senior roles across the world in 2016—an increase of only 3% from 2011. At this rate of change, women will not reach parity with men until 2060. Across the globe, the fundamental issue we are facing today is the lack of great leaders who can bring people together to encourage diversity in thinking; and we need them in substantial numbers. There exists, currently, a strong inclination to personify male leaders with masculine characteristics and women leaders with feminine characteristics. Hence, in the hyper-masculine world of business, diversity has become synonymous with the number of women in leadership positions. In search of diversity, and with the intent of equality, many organisations have started reserving a certain percentage of their leadership positions for women and rolling out specific programmes to place women in leadership roles.

While increasing the number of women leaders is important and needs urgent focus, assuming that this will result in propagating diversity in thinking at the leadership level, is far from realistic.  The current, and sadly prevailing leadership paradigm is thought to be born out of patriarchy and rooted in militaristic thinking;  drastically overemphasising masculine values, and in some manner, expressing contempt for most feminine qualities.

Hence, today, we see a number of women leaders approaching leadership as ‘men in skirts’, while trying twice as hard to overemphasise their masculine traits; while most male leaders remain tragically disconnected from this vital aspect of their personalities - their innate feminine qualities. Across the globe we see men and women leaders struggling to ‘fit in’ to gender-defined molds rather than conjuring up the courage to be their authentic self. This self-deceptive act is responsible for the inordinate crisis in leadership today - inauthentic leaders failing to inspire positive and sustainable action.

Globally we are in a transition period where masculine and feminine roles are being redefined and re-arranged. While we are altering the masculine and feminine roles based on the idea of equality, we need to understand that ‘male’ and ‘female’ are biological identities, which are universal in nature and can’t really be changed.

Traditionally, across cultures, masculine qualities are associated with the left brain; they are task-focused and mostly driven by intellect, focus, passion, and logic. On the other hand, feminine qualities are all about the right brain; they are relationship-focused and mostly driven by feeling, inclusion, nurturing and intuition. The need of the hour is for men and women to transcend their traditional gender-defined roles, to evolve into holistic beings by integrating their inner masculine and feminine qualities.

Great leadership is gender agnostic. Great leaders, need both masculine and feminine traits to be successful in today’s world. Great leaders, regardless of gender, work towards finding their own unique balance by integrating complementary forces - their internal masculine and feminine dimensions and valuing them equally.

It is time for the Leadership Development function in organisations to challenge the patriarchal approach to leadership and construct a milieu which inspires leaders to evolve and operate from a position of authenticity. Senior leaders across the organisation need to build an acceptance for a different leadership paradigm; one which is much more inclusive, holistic and one, which will encourage minds to operate without fear. We shall see the emergence of great leaders across genders only when they don’t need to struggle to ‘fitting in’, but endeavour to be more holistic and authentic, by leveraging the whole inner continuum of masculine and feminine traits based on the situation.  


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TheLostBronteSister 28-Mar-2017 19:54

Please tag this article with #kalamequality. It could qualify for article of the month and eventually for best of kalamwali 2017

GOLAKAR 29-Mar-2017 17:53

Thanks for your suggestion #TheLostBronteSister

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