I used to think to be a confident woman I needed to be aggressive and direct. Like being a man in a woman’s body. But thoughtful feminine leadership is so much more intricate and intelligent. I am a self-proclaimed “recovering warrior.” My past tendencies to default to more masculine traits may have even created unnecessary conflict and angst throughout my life. As a professional life coach, I’ve mentored and counseled hundreds of people to the point of accessing more awareness and a healthy balance of both masculine and feminine gifts. Not only have I learned from my own life experiences, but I’ve adopted a more strategic approach to all parts of my life while witnessing with others to actualize their own self-worth.
Regardless of our gender identification, we as humans possess and draw upon both masculine and feminine energies. “Energy” can be qualified as the specific character traits that each of us possesses and brings to any given situation. Although the polarities of our male and female traits both attract and complement each other, we must learn to decipher their differences. Leaning too much into one or the other can transform into poison and undermine even our best intentions. Feminine energy can be described as receptive, collaborative and intuitive. Masculine energy is associated with being courageous, forthright and focused. If we are to achieve harmony in our lives, we must learn to balance the best parts of each half of our wholeness.
The truth is that we all embody both masculine and feminine energies and when you notice the interplay of these characteristics in yourself, it can influence not only your mindset but the way you choose to respond to adversity.
Leading with balance and emotional intelligence
While both lists of traits could be considered positive and productive, there is an interesting contrast between them; masculine energies are primarily about “doing,” while feminine energies speak to “being.” To understand how certain traits serve us we must learn to bring ourselves back into balance when we are leaning more into one or the other. The more awareness we have about the stability of both our feminine and masculine energies, the more aligned we are with our natural gifts.
The leaders that I admire most lead with emotional intelligence. They show up in the world with integrity, creativity and a willingness to collaborate and communicate with honest sincerity. They use emotional expression, communication and inclusivity to raise and diffuse challenging situations. These leaders are effective negotiators because they are good listeners, and their empathic abilities help them stay connected to those they hope to influence. Most importantly, they lean into their vulnerability, no longer believing that consciously expressing feelings in the workplace is a weakness.
Many of my female clients come to coaching with rigid judgments around letting their emotions show, especially at work. As we dive deeper into the power and insight behind these emotions, we learn that their gifts of compassion, connection and receptiveness are the qualities that make them good at what they do. And the best part is, when these remarkable women begin to lean into their innate energies, their confidence soars. They gain access to the most powerful part of themselves, especially when it comes to modeling their brand of leadership. Think of the freedom and fulfillment you might experience if you danced in more of your innate energies.
Take time with yourself
Yet to gain access to these intrinsic gifts, you’ve got to take time with yourself. It isn’t until we slow down and ask ourselves what we need that we begin to heal and access our most potent and authentic authority. This connection allows you to notice feelings and emotions and to accept that they are present. It also helps you to get clear on boundary violations, unreal expectations and when it’s time to step away and replenish your internal energy.
Even during the most challenging times, the best decisions are made with a calm and centered mind. This awareness also helps us avoid the “out of control” feeling that comes when we’re pushed past our limits. Caring for and attending to our feminine gifts of heart, soul and body is not selfish. It is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself and everyone in your orbit.
Author and Life Coach, Andrea Mein DeWitt, inspires leaders to step into their power, their potential and their truth. Her book, Name, Claim and Reframe -Your Pathway to a Well-Lived Life, is a practical approach to navigating life’s challenges. Follow her on Instagram.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.