Many of us were brought up in families had clear male/female gender roles that were engrained into us. Boys were encouraged to behave in certain ways; girls were encouraged to behave in certain ways. Sometimes dress codes were determined and enforced differently depending on your gender. Even if we had loving and supportive parents who didn’t differentiate between genders with their parenting, society certainly has rules and regulations about how one should behave. These rules and regulations may be obvious, or they can be subtle and subconscious. All you have to do is look at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the United States; unless something has changed they don’t offer seductive photos of men in thongs frolicking on the beach. Each culture may have different unspoken rules of behavior, dress and expectations, but there still are differences between male and female.
In the workplace, while women are generally becoming more equal to their male counterparts than ever before, there still are differences based on subtle energies that are known as masculine energy and feminine energy. These energies show up in various proportions based upon culture, gender, experiences and belief patterns. If a woman contains primarily feminine energy she will behave one way, but if she contains primarily masculine energy she will behave in other ways. This does not necessarily have anything to do with sexual orientation, but how we behave in relationships and choose our sexuality will depend on the masculine/feminine energy that we carry.
If we have too much masculine energy we can appear to be aggressive, competitive, non-cooperative, selfish, or bossy. If we have too much feminine energy we can appear to be weak, non-productive, chatty, unfocused, or indecisive. The ideal combination would be a balance of masculine and feminine energy. For men, this means that they need to be more in touch with their emotions, more team oriented, and more understanding and compassionate, as well as developing patience, playfulness and humor. For women, it means setting and enforcing boundaries, being more action oriented, being leaders, developing self-confidence and self-worth. In other words, masculine energies need to learn how to say “yes” more and feminine energies need to learn how to say “no”.
For women in the workplace, it is very important that they establish appropriate boundaries and enforce them. This means having a clear understanding about what your job description is and not being pushed around. For example, being the only woman in the room does not mean you have to make the coffee, unless that is part of your job description. Feminine energy is patient, kind and nurturing, but to be successful in the workplace masculine energy is required to earn respect. There are many examples of how people jostle and adjust the pecking order based upon respect and boundaries. The co-workers that have no boundaries will not rise very far. Boundaries are a clear signal of self-respect and self-worth, two hallmarks of leadership.
The feminine trait of communicating needs to be tempered by the masculine trait of action, which means less gossip and more focus on your job. Feminine energy loves to analyze and discuss, masculine energy is more targeted on accomplishment. When you balance these two energies, you have an effective leader with great communication skills. When the energy goes to far to one side of the spectrum, the person is less effective because they are either talking too much or not talking enough.
Being in touch with our emotions is also an important aspect of success in the workplace. Masculine energy is all about action; it doesn’t have time to feel feelings. The problem is that by denying emotions or burying them in our psyche, problems arise later because people appear to be emotionally unavailable and uncaring. One of the most important skills of effective leadership is empowering those you lead, and to do that you have to be able to relate to your co-workers. Successful relationships require a balance of the masculine/feminine energies, which requires empathy and feeling. If you can’t understand how your co-workers are feeling, you will not be able to lead them. Just because you have a huge dose of masculine energy and can ignore pain, you will find out very quickly that you are the leader of an army of one. Whether you are a man or a woman, it is critical that you understand the emotions of your co-workers, and that requires the feminine energy of compassion.
So be focused, clear, and compassionate. Discuss your job description with your supervisor/employer and understand your role at work. Be dependable, trustworthy and honest. Above all be confident and understanding. With this balance of energy you will go far.