Who says it has to be a man’s world?

“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”

—John F. Kennedy

I spent this summer in France and had many conversations with friends around our business idea. While explaining what we were trying to achieve, I was very keen to mention that our mission was not to fight for women’s rights but to take an approach where we help recognize that men and women are different.

It is common knowledge that “men do not listen and women cannot read maps” . Our brains just do not function in the same way. And as long as scientists have not found a way for men to carry children, I would say our bodies work pretty differently too. There are of course always exceptions, but when a male friend is actually a good listener, I often hear you say he has a “strong female side”!

So why, when we all know that we think, function, live and love differently, are we expected to work the same way?

Women can multi-task, listen, support each other and according to a UK survey tend to have more warmth, sensitivity and apprehension then men. As per the same survey, men have more emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness and vigilance.

There are currently a lot of discussions around how to support women’s access to leadership positions. The common assumption is that women are the victim of gender discrimination which I have experienced myself throughout my career. But how much of that discrimination comes from lack of understanding and comprehension versus a conscious intend to put women down?

Sheryl Sandberg in her book “Lean in”, mentions how successful female leaders are usually disliked in the corporate world. They usually demonstrate male attributes which are not expected from a woman. The question I have is why do women need to have male attributes to succeed in their career? Is the business world so dominated by men that there is only way to climb the ladder, and that is to behave like a man?

I realize that everyone is different and that some women have more male qualities which help them succeed in today’s business environment. I also believe there is a way for women who are less dominant, vocal or outwardly confident to succeed because of other leadership qualities we have long forgotten to recognize in our current male dominated world. I believe we can change business cultures so male and female leaders can learn to recognize those attributes and reward them as they are equally important to the success of a team, a division or the entire organization.

A woman who might come across as being shy or more reserved than a man, but who has the ability to generate trust, connect people together and be a role model when it comes to work ethics will be able to lead a team very effectively. She will be able to inspire others and generate cohesion within her team. A woman with less of an ego will have the ability to recognize talents, develop them and help them rise without feeling threatened. There is also a high probability if that same woman is recognized and her qualities acknowledged, that she will become more confident and therefore more vocal.

A woman who can juggle work, family, friends, sport, and hobbies will be a huge asset to your company, as she will certainly be able to exercise the same skills within her role, if you let her.

I believe there is a way for each company to create a culture where gender differences are understood, respected and embraced. Businesses taking that step should be able to generate higher profitability. After all, it has been proven that happiness increases productivity!

Heroism. Integrity, a Disney Princess and a Cause

Heroism is defined by the dictionary in terms of bravery, fearlessness, courage, valor, audacity…but what strikes me about all those words is to have it one must begin by having a deep, heartfelt belief in something. And the expression of that belief is the manifestation of integrity.

 

I recently watched Snow White and the Huntsman, a fresh and more adult version of the classic Disney icon Snow White. The transformation of a princess included a complete makeover, which on the surface included a change in style and image from beautiful, maternal, sweet, innocent, caretaker to beautiful, tough, gritty, fearless, courageous, warrior. But even more important was the change in her character.

 

In both stories the Queen is all powerful, and seeking to maintain control at any cost, with minions who do her bidding or die if they fail. In “old” Disney, our princess is lost and finds purpose in the caretaking of the dwarfs, and is rescued by true love’s kiss, living happily ever after. In the modern version, she escapes prison, takes on a cause, inspires faith in the cause, and becomes the cause, it lives and breathes as one with her…true love’s kiss is not the answer, but a reminder of her virtues, why we all love her…she lives with integrity, and the kingdom lives happily ever after…that was a mouthful.

 

Arguably, both princesses have integrity, live their truth, but only the modern princess combines it with heroism. Making bold moves, using her integrity to move through her fears and find her confidence.

 

Maybe we can take a page from this version of the fairytale and apply it to women who are looking to change the conversation about living a complete life without fear, or guilt. We have been living shackled inside our own Evil Queens tower. Time to break free, and speak from the heart. We know today, that it is difficult to live with integrity when our employers ask us to compromise on our values, expecting us to sacrifice family/community to work. Or vice versa, our families/communities demands have us sacrifice careers that we have worked hard to aspire to and feel proud of. Many of us believe this does not have to be win/lose. But we are afraid to make a bold step, we are afraid we won’t be taken seriously. But I advocate that if you have integrity, and you are want to live your truth, even if you stumble it’s worth taking that step.

 

Disney’s makeover of its fictional princesses to be bold, fearless virtuous leaders is a sign of the times. If we want to teach our daughters to become virtuous leaders, then it’s time those role models are not fictional.

 

-by Adrienne

Sanctuary

Have you taken time for your Sanctuary today? Or a better question to ask is, how often do you carve out time for your sanctuary on a regular basis?

 

Your sanctuary could be a walk, run, hike, bike ride, reading a book, gardening, day at the spa, or simply time by yourself doing anything that comes to mind. Whatever it is, when we get busy, we tend to cut this out of our lives, and that is when we need it the most.  So… when you find yourself saying “I just don’t have the time to take that walk…”  consciously make the time, even if for only 30 minutes, and reflect on how you feel.

The Fork in the Road

The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler …Robert Frost

 

I recently had a conversation with a woman who told me about the time she stood at the fork in the road. In her case she and her husband both worked in the same industry and career but because they decided to have a family, he took the path toward promotion and growth, and she stepped away, choosing a more limited career path that included more flexibility to manage her “other” commitments. She sacrificed her career.

 

The guilt, the compromise, the rationalization that led to her decision to scale back a blossoming career to care for the needs of family, in this case children (but could be an aging parent or something else) is not a decision that she made lightly. However, for this woman and for many, it is not a choice, it is duty. She does not question her decision.

 

What she does question is why it must be a sacrifice. Why can’t she have it all. She discovered that working within a limited schedule, she produced more, wasted less, and understood what counted for value vs. non-value added work. In all aspects of her life, she does what matters, she juggles a much greater load than her husband and she does it with a quality assurance and efficiency that is masterful. She does what counts, and she does what she cares about.

 

If we put what we care about first, we don’t call it work, we call it life. We live it at an entirely different energy level. Women understand this.

 

Our job description is not a list of tasks, but something like:

 

Read More

Requires commitment, passion, and unconditional love,

Have an action orientation,

be able to multi-task,

make mistakes and learn quickly Provide support, care and leadership Be involved,

make a difference

Do more with less resources,

be creative and imaginative

 

It became clear as we talked that the sacrifice was both hers and her husbands. He may have built a career but ultimately he sacrificed more. He is missing out on important life events, the little joys, and happy moments, that she is available to experience because she has greater flexibility. Imagine if we could design work that honors our whole selves and engages us in ways that matter.

 

Maybe we wouldn’t have to sacrifice careers or home life, maybe instead we could create stronger communities where our careers and our lives compliment and enhance each other. Imagine the paths merging, and not having to regret the path the not taken.

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