July 23, 2014
If you are a woman working in a male-dominated environment it is easy to feel like a square peg in a round hole. You need to bring your authentic self to work to feel good about yourself, but your natural approach to situations is often different than that of your male co-workers. Rest assured that fitting in and being yourself are both possible.
It hinges on getting to know yourself and understanding not only what provides your own unique energy, but also how you can leverage the energy patterns of both genders. The perfect energy for every occasion is ready and waiting for you.
Whether it is due to nature or nurture, the natural energy of most women is the collaborative, process-oriented Feminine Energy which focuses first on the collective. Yet, many are working in goal-driven, individualistic, command and control Masculine Energy environments.
This creates a disconnect, but consider it like traveling to a foreign land. If you are open to another’s culture, you can participate in it and even enjoy the experience. Energy patterns are the same. Once you are secure in your Feminine Energy you can travel to Masculine Energy territory, try it’s customs and incorporate those of value.
Get to Know the Energies
Feminine Energy likes to serve; it is interested in the end-user. This is probably why, as a corporate executive, I enjoyed surveying our stakeholders. I loved to hear their opinions and respond to their needs. However, it was an uphill battle with some Masculine Energy individuals who saw no value in the relationship and considered anything other than the commitment to the financial bottom-line a waste of time.
Masculine Energy is motivated by competition. This was to our company’s benefit as our mine managers tried to outdo one another by achieving the lowest production costs. However, just as these mine managers differentiated themselves, I watched women in the same meeting downplay their accomplishments. Feminine Energy likes to keep everyone equal and as a result these women missed an opportunity to shine.
Those operating from Masculine Energy focus on the goal and how to get there as quickly as possible. This is really valuable when you need to act expediently. I was always thankful when someone with Masculine Energy stepped to the fore during a crisis. It was not a time to poll everyone around the table as those with Feminine Energy are wont to do.
A Feminine Energy leader is likely to set up a flat organization where power is shared, while those with Masculine Energy like power over others in a hierarchy. Leaders who use Feminine Energy have round table discussions getting to know their people and listening to their ideas. This creates a much greater buy-in than would be the case with a Masculine Energy leader who issues directives to be followed.
Both of these energies provide value in certain circumstances, with certain audiences and in certain venues. For example, I used to dial up my Masculine Energy at the office so that my superiors would have confidence in my decisions. However, when I got home I dialed it down so my family could feel the nurturing of my heart energy.
Access the Energies
While more men will operate from Masculine Energy it is not always the case. Likewise, not all women find Feminine Energy to be their preference. I used to work with a biologist who would say, “You know how women have the XX chromosome and men have the XY? Well, Betty-Ann, the bottom half has fallen off your last X because you are looking a lot like an XY”.
Whether your preference is Masculine or Feminine Energy, it is natural to use your authentic energy as a way of handling daily situations. Most of the time that works and your inherent approach provides an advantage. However, when you are overtired, overloaded, uncertain or under stress you’re prone to dial up your energy to the extreme and your Achilles Heel steps in. When in this energy extreme, your performance will suffer.
To alleviate this, be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of your authentic energy, what triggers you and when it is to your advantage to insert some of the complimentary gender energy. That analysis gives you an opportunity for adjustment. After dialing your energy up or down it is important to sit back and see if it worked. Make a note: would you use it again in a similar set of circumstances?
I liken this to water. When you feel the temperature from the tap getting too hot, dial it down by opening the cold water tap. When it cools too much turn the hot back on until you find the right temperature. Just as Masculine and Feminine Energy attributes suit different purposes, it is the same with water temperatures. You’ll want cold water to quench your thirst and hot water for a relaxing bath.
Real Life Examples
Examples of how women can use both energies can be found in a couple of recent best-sellers. “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to put up their hands, speak out, accept a challenge and take their seat at the table. This risk-taking is the essence of Masculine Energy. I agree with Sandberg that women need to exercise these attributes to be recognized and advance in the workplace.
However, if women spend too much time in their Masculine Energy they are sure to become depleted. That’s where the advice that Arianna Huffington offers in her book “The Third Metric” is pertinent. She encourages women to place their well-being alongside money and power as a measure of success. To do this, she suggests slowing down to find wonder and wisdom, by walking in nature, and taking time to ‘just be’, through meditation. These recommendations are the basis of Feminine Energy.
The perfect energy for every occasion is there for you. Get to know what energizes you as an individual, consider it in the context of your preferred gender energy and access your complimentary energy to your advantage. Practice dialing these energies up or down, experimenting until you find the perfect level for every venue, audience and situation. For, when you comfortably present your authentic energy to the world, you’ll be happier, more successful and you’ll have more energy!