Whenever I thought about leadership traits I always had in mind words such as a strong, arrogant, intelligent, ego-driven, bravado, powerful, dominant, assertive, single tasking, focused, competitive, stubborn, physical, self-righteous and direct… men. Some of those traits felt alien to me and others were not something I wanted to develop. So I decided that I was not leader material.
According to Ann Cummings, a former Wharton management professor who is now a professor of business administration at the University of Minnesota, “Much of what we think about in terms of leadership usually falls in ‘masculine’ traits, whether it’s a man or a woman”.
What is the male style in general terms anyways? Men tend to be more task-oriented while women take on a more interpersonal style of leadership. Therefore, a “masculine” style tends toward assertive and task-based behaviours, while a “feminine” style is more relationship oriented and “democratic.” Additionally, Cummings noted, men tend to take greater intellectual risks and have higher self esteem, whereas “women are coping” and tend to be more efficient when it comes to solving problems.
>>> · <<<
In this personal search for a style of leadership that feels right for me, I learned that there is indeed a style of feminine leadership. Obviously, all of this behaviour operates on a continuum, as most of us have a multitude of styles and combine many different traits in different times.
There is nothing wrong with a male leadership style, but it does not work for everybody. However, it is the style that we are sold into. We are normally told since school years that if you want to succeed and be a leader, you must have or develop those male skills. Some of us, we have tried and sunk into the dark waters of despair.
But there is another way, the way of the women. There is a way of being a leader without feeling alienated, emulating men or adopting masculine traits (note that I am not talking about gender but only masculine and feminine traits or attributes).
Masculine and Feminine attributes.
There is an extensive bibliography on this topic and there are many books that touch different areas of the feminine. This is the reason why this bookclub came to life. The goal of this bookclub is to explore together, to study and deepen our practice of feminine leadership so that we may hold more powerful spaces and grow in ourselves and what we’re doing in the world.
The book club will take the format of a monthly online (via Zoom) circle-style meeting to discuss books related with feminine leadership. In our circles, we will be invited to share critiques as well as the impact of the learning on our personal lives and in our work.
Click here for the list of the books we will discuss and the dates. We gather the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm (CEST, UTC+1).