Thursday, 19 January 2012

How can we create a better balance between masculine and feminine leadership styles?

"The 21st century is the time for women to reclaim their voices and men their hearts” Jane Fonda.

During a recent executive coaching program, one of my senior male executives expressed his confusion at receiving a 360 degree feedback report comment from a team member, that his decisions were far “too rational” and excluded any kind of “intuitive or feeling” elements. 

My client had been blessed with a comprehensive quality education in a highly competitive, private school in Australia. He had received his Masters Degree in Economics, from Sydney University and was 20 years into a very successful career in one of the top 4 national financial institutions.  He was deeply shocked and seriously disappointed to receive what he considered to be ‘negative feedback’ and wondered “why might this be so?”

After exploring this issue during our coaching program, he was able to recognise that his core strengths in his role at the bank, was his competitive, linear and rational thinking process.  This enabled him to make and deliver almost 100% accurate economic reports. He later bravely shared his feedback with his all male team, and they discussed why this feedback was so important. The team realised that whilst they were a high achieving, task focussed and effective business unit, they were, somehow, out of balance!

The most important revelation was that their division, whilst employing several female analysts, they lacked even one woman in any kind of senior role! 

Further discussion, accompanied by the instability, uncertainty and volatility of the financial markets due to the ongoing GFC, they pinpointed three inherent qualities that they would either need to develop, or bring into and blend into the talent pool to create a more inclusive and balanced culture- collaboration, holistic and intuitive thinking.

Being a truly courageous and proactive leader, as a first step, he and his all male executive team, willingly embarked on an Emotional Intelligence Learning Journey, to better understand and learn how to be more collaborative, intuitive and see things holistically. They also invited senior female executives from other divisions within the bank, to share their success stories and learning’s.  We then worked on identifying and developing the required mindsets, behaviours and practices behind being more collaborative, global and intuitive. 

Only when they, themselves, became consciously conscious, they redefined their business purpose, strategy and structure, and clarified key roles and responsibilities, from a more balanced perspective. After much soul searching, and 6 months of serious team, leadership and culture development activities, as well as serious targeted recruitment efforts, my client and his team felt that a more suitable balance had been achieved.

Amazingly, this banks share price, despite the current Eurozone Crisis, has only reduced by 3.4%, as their key economic forecasting division had collaborated with other key divisions and adopted a holistic global outlook and intuited the whole event!

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