What comes to mind when I say “femininity?” It might be how women have been portrayed throughout time in every kind of media – as a passive energy focused on caring and cultivating.
Now, what do you think of when I say “masculinity?” Maybe now you’re thinking more about energies like aggression and dominance, or the stereotypically masculine behaviors those energies fuel like competitiveness or a lack of emotion. These, too, are all traits that have been assigned to male protagonists in podcasts, films and TV shows since those mediums were invented.
But – and I know you know this but it bears repeating – what you’re seeing on TV, in films, and online isn’t the whole picture; they’re images that have been created by old systems rooted in outdated perceptions.
I hit a wall years ago after finally coming to terms with the fact that, try as I might, I wasn’t able to live up to my society’s standards of “feminine perfection.” A journey of self-discovery ensued that led me to a life-changing practice: the full integration and unabashed embodiment of both the masculine and feminine versions of myself.
I know, it sounds abstract as hell, and sometimes, it feels that way. But it starts with a perspective shift: the realization that femininity and masculinity are two energies that achieve their greatest potential when they work in tandem, intertwined as one.
In our patriarchal world, masculinity is seen as the dominant trait of a successful leader. I was personally taught – through constant actions, messaging, and microaggressions – that feminine energy has no place in boardrooms or C-Suites. It took me damn near a decade to disentangle myself from all of that conditioning and realize that feminine energy is far from a weakness. It’s the opposite: a critical part of what makes a leader strong and powerful in all the right ways. Not the kind of brute strength and insatiable hunger for power that we’re conditioned to associate with leadership.
Dominance and oppression are not leadership, they’re reflections of deep insecurity and trauma. A secure and balanced leader is one who embraces their feminine energy. A secure and balanced leader holds what I consider to be true power – the power of presence, the power of self, and the power of compassion.
And let me be clear: Feminine and masculine energies exist within every human spirit. When a leader, regardless of their gender identity, allows themselves to fully possess their feminine power, the potential for a greater sense of community, connection, collaboration, and creativity unfolds within themselves, their teams, and their work.
I’ve experienced this firsthand. Before launching out on my own in 2017, I’d spent 12 years in Corporate America running from my own feminine energy. I’d been taught by society that the only way to be in charge and make a lasting difference was to dominate, overpower, and oppress. Just look at the men heralded in history books, immortalized by statues, and frozen in time by artistic masterpieces.
But I never had it in me. I felt like a failure, like something was wrong with me because, while I am a powerful presence, I have never wanted to use that power to oppress others. My nature has always been to use my voice, privilege, and strength to protect and nurture my community. And that’s exactly what feminine energy does.
When fully embraced, feminine energy is multifaceted and complex, wielding strength in both its ability to be vulnerable as well as its potential to bring destruction. Just look at the feminine symbols we’ve created across human history: Venus, the goddess of love; Madonna, the mother and life-bringer; and Kali, the Hindu goddess of time, death, and destruction of all evils.
There was always a nagging voice inside of me, but I could never make out what it was trying to say. Until one day during a meditation, I received a clear message: “Be as big as you are.”
It was as if the seas of possibility parted when I heeded that message and stepped into my full feminine power. I realized that by playing by the power dynamics of the patriarchy, success had felt denied to me by the systems put in place by Old-World Capitalism. When I finally refused to keep playing small, I had a major realization. Nothing was wrong with me. Everything was wrong with the system.
In the machine of capitalism, everything and everyone is commodified for the sake of profit. People, their lives and their needs, derive value based on their productive outputs. They are cogs in a great imaginary machine.
To integrate the feminine is to see a person as a whole individual contributor, and to credit the individual as being fundamental to the success of a company. In that world, revenue looks very different. Output is no longer the primary goal. Input through collaboration, transparency, and trust become the true measures of success. And in that world, profitability comes naturally.
Because, as it turns out, profit is not exclusive to toxic capitalism. On the contrary, mindsets meant to limit others can’t help but limit themselves. Studies are already showing hints of what I’m sure will be a much broader realization for us in the near future. For instance, companies whose leadership is made up of at least 30% women experience a 15% increase in profitability.
Companies whose leadership is made up of at least 30% women experience a 15% increase in profitability.Payscale.com
I’ve seen this with my own team, who are highly productive because our nurturing and human-first culture keeps them feeling energized, seen, and fulfilled. I invest in the people I work with by valuing their humanity, understanding that they have a life outside of work, and taking the time to listen to their needs. And because I invest in them, they invest in me.
Feminine leadership creates this naturally symbiotic environment where profit increases because people are dedicated to their work because their places of employment are dedicated to them. And this shift is felt by our clients. An increase in returning customers and higher customer satisfaction are the benefits of clients receiving dedicated attention by a cared-for and fulfilled team.
Feminine leadership is good for business.
Not being afraid to be a feminine leader isn’t only a call to deprogram the toxic ideas the patriarchy and capitalism have ingrained in us. It is also a call to be a better leader. You can make your business more efficient, strengthen your relationships, and become a contender in your industry by embracing your feminine energy. Instead of asking for a seat at the table of capitalism, reclaiming your feminine energy will empower you to build another table.