Betty-Ann's Both Sides Blog

Becoming a Leadership Magnet

Recently, a thirty- something woman reached out to ask me how she could transition from a follower to a leader in her company. What she was really asking was, “how can I be perceived as a leader?” As a student of leadership I was delighted to discuss my thoughts with her and a summary of our conversation follows.

There are magnetic people in every company and those people can be any age or gender. Others are attracted to them, want to work with them and naturally follow them. When you look more closely you’ll find that they are balanced between the polar opposites of Masculine and Feminine Energy. Their dynamic wholeness demands our undivided attention. There is something about the equilibrium that soothes our soul and pacifies our subconscious.

Maybe it is like the golden mean in geometry? This perfectly balanced ratio is seen in such famous architectural creations as the Great Pyramids and the Parthenon, as well as in the paintings of Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. These balanced works are reassuring and innately satisfying. People are attracted to them in the same way they are to those magnetic leaders, those who have the magical ‘it’ characteristic of presence.

Presence would fetch a high price if it could be bottled and sold, but for many, acquiring this precious commodity proves difficult. Yet. Like the golden mean, it comes alive when others subliminally recognize you as stable yet stimulating.

I first recognized these dynamics years ago while conducting a research project for a university class on social networks. It was fascinating to see the way that everyone wanted to work with a select few individuals. When I looked more closely at the attributes of these magnetic people, I found that they were not only confident and capable but also cooperative, encouraging, and validating. Others benefited from their expertise, yet found working alongside them pleasant and amiable.

Later, during my tenure with Xerox Canada, one of my responsibilities as a salesperson was surveying customers to ensure product satisfaction. While we strove to deliver good-quality copies to every customer, I noticed that there were distinct differences in how those copies were perceived. If a repair person cared about their customer, the customer not only liked them but also would accept substandard copies. In fact, they would rate their copies as excellent! Conversely, even top-notch copies would be rated below average if those doing the repairs didn’t act as if they cared about the customer.

Both situations drove home that if you care about others, it can positively influence their perception of your ability. Such is the significance of Feminine Energy. In our production-oriented society, we have tended to undervalue the benefits of Feminine Energy, but this is a reminder, once again, that Masculine Energy isn’t appreciated without it.

By balancing Feminine Energy caring and connection with the confidence and competence of Masculine Energy, people have the magnetic gift of presence. When both characteristics are present, the sum total is enhanced.

Balanced leaders know it’s not enough to have skills and be competent; it is equally important (and maybe more so) to be likeable and form relationships. When these characteristics are delivered together, both are enhanced—you become a magnet.

So how can we be sure we demonstrate both competence and the equally (if not more) important likeability to become a leadership magnet? Develop your Masculine and Feminine energy. Those deemed to be competent and dependable display Masculine Energy attributes such as analysis, taking action and focusing on results. Everyone wants to work with, or for, someone who brings a project in on time and on budget, especially when that proficient person is also personally appealing.

Appealing individuals display attributes such as collaboration, consensus building, listening, empathizing and caring for others. These are all indicative of accessing Feminine ‎Energy. Sprinkling a healthy dose of these characteristics over those you interact with will make you more likeable. Everyone is aware of their own imperfections, and if you can make others feel safe about revealing their vulnerabilities, they will perform better for you and up to their highest potential.

Whether you are a man or a woman, you have both Masculine and Feminine Energy in you. Your job is to coax these energies out, embrace them and express yourself through them. Both men and women are prone to turn their back on Feminine Energy in an attempt to get the job done in our production-oriented work environments. We’ve been socialized to believe that it is all about proficiency, but as we’ve seen, the results of competent individuals, who are not considered likeable, can be viewed as subpar.

It is well worth it to take time to ask others how they are doing and really listen to the answers. Rather than passing others over in a group to reach resolution on a decision, pull ideas out of those quiet ones. This improves brainstorming, which will pay dividends through a wider range of ideas. Additionally, these Feminine Energy actions will leave people feeling that you are more genial.

Nobody wants to follow a likeable leader who can’t deliver results, and nobody wants to follow a repulsive, but competent, leader either. Remember that both attributes are teamed together. Take time to display both Masculine and Feminine Energy, paying special attention to using Feminine Energy to guide your interactions. That will increase your likeability regardless of your age and you’ll become a leadership magnet.