Being a Woman is a Serious Business

Being a Woman is a Serious Business

The fact that continues to emerge is how much the world is changing and consequently how much business has to play catch up. Where do women fit in and how can feminine values come in, answer questions and solve problems? On last week’s episode of The Rise of the Feminine, a special feature from the WIN conference in Rome, we learned about the serious business of being a woman and the impact of women stepping into the big decisions of the corporate world.

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Radio Guests Susan Schachterle, Keith Coats, Prof Nigel Nicholson and Dr Kaouthar Darmoni

Susan Schachterle – Women are not Aware of their Power

  • Women so often don’t even recognize that they carry power. They are conditioned to think of power in terms of how men demonstrate power but women carry a depth of wisdom and power that creates the foundation for any kind of success in business.
  • Women tend to be conditioned to think of power in terms of giant business deals or being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, very masculine power without beginning to realize that there is nothing weak about connecting, creating relationships and alliances and collaborating. There’s nothing weak about compassion, empathy and nurturing.
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Gina Lazenby with Susan Schachterle in Rome, Italy, at the WIN conference

Keith Coats – Women are Natural for Tomorrow’s Leadership & They Can Ask the Right Questions

  • The emerging next economy is referred to as the connection economy or relation economy and this is going to be the first context that doesn’t only not prejudice women in leadership but favors women in leadership.
  • When you look at what it’s going to take to lead in the connection economy, it hinges on the ability to relate, to go over the far more instinctive feel, to have a lot of dexterity. Women generally have a far higher intuitive sense and ability in those areas.
  • One of the biggest challenges facing business is that it’s an understanding that strategy is no longer the leading jab or the driver, it has to be around culture.
  • If you’re talking about an adaptive organization, it’s not a strategic response, it’s a cultural response. When you look at what the ingredients of culture are that make up the business model, women are better equipped to lead in that domain.
  • Smart leaders today are leaders who frame great questions. Again, women are just more comfortable in that, of not needing to have the answers but are of hosting questions, of getting participants to discuss and share opinions. This is really important in politics but especially in corporations today.

Nigel Nicholson – When Women are Given the Choice to Lead, Some are Choosing Not To

  • The way we’ve created and structured the concept of leadership within organizational structures looks pretty poisonous to a lot of women who have leadership capability.
  • Women think they might have to forfeit their personal life, exercise remote authority, or work in a rule based performance driven culture that is always focusing on achievement and tasks of individuals and the like of teamwork and all these other things.
  • What women bring to the table is flexibility and adaptive leadership. It means you don’t try to be a man or a woman for all seasons but you’re ready to do what’s needed or to find somebody else who will do what you can’t do to make sure that the right things happen for the good of the common wealth.

Dr Kaouthar Darmoni – Reframing our Understanding of the Female Body

  • Women don’t dare to use to use their breasts because we think it’s sexual but men use it very well. When they want to be macho, they raise with their chest. Women should do the same as well, it’s a natural expression.
  • What happened in Western society which is very sad, is we internalized this male gaze on the female body. A male gaze which is also has been completely distorted by the culture of pornification. The body is important, not only to desexualize it but also to depornify it.
  • In these spaces, in my culture where come from where we are completely amongst women, we have this pure way of celebrating the female body in its most purest beautiful form as it is.

Listen to the full episode.

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Tune into The Rise of the Feminine every Monday at 9am PST/5pm London on Voice America. 

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50 Shades of Men

It’s safe to say and we can all agree, that just as all women are not all the same, men are not either. In this episode Gina Lazenby spoke with three men who discussed masculinity, and the many different shades of this takes.

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We already heard on the Rise of the Feminine Radio two weeks ago from Jim Myers, author of The Future of Men, that young men in particular are struggling with finding their way to adulthood while more young women are increasingly focused on their education, achievements and planning a well-paid career. They see a relationship as a distraction that can hold them back, so relationships are less of a priority in their 20s.(Listen to that episode here).

That’s one perspective on what’s happening with young men while many older men, particularly white males, can be feeling the squeeze as organisations try to make space for women leaders and people of different ethnic backgrounds. In this episode Gina referred to author Dr Roy Baumeister who says in his book Is There Anything Good About Men, that it is currently taboo to speak good about men. “To be sure, men still outnumber women as top achievers in some domains. Does that mean that in some respects men are better than women? Hardly. We have all been taught to dismiss superior male achievement as evidence of prejudice and oppression.”

The rise of the feminine is about the ascension of women and the increasing values BUT it must not be a movement that puts men down. It is about the rise of women, about finding the feminine within all of us, and for men to connect with their feelings and emotional expression. 

Kenny D’Cruz, the Man Whisperer, says that men are asking “where are all the women?” Women can very much resonate with this as this is a question on many single women’s lips.

Kenny says that men are likely to find a relationship if they become a “man” and not a boy who, he says, are not looking for a real woman. Being a man is more about a life stage than an age and becoming a man involves a process of self-awareness and growth, something that can be done alone, but is more effective by the support of good role models and even attending an increasing number of men’s groups.

David Brower reflects on French masculinity. While sexism still exists in France as it does in many countries, David observed that the French culture and appreciation of beauty, arts and cuisine was a way that helped to get French men out of their heads and to open up their hearts.

Secondly David noticed that expressing an opinion was much more acceptable than in his native America where David felt the restriction of black or white view viewpoints. In France there is more openness to expressing and hearing the many shades of grey in between.

As the father of three boys, Nick Haines valued giving his son is a good grounding in Emotional Intelligence, giving them permission to feel and express as wide a range of emotions as they wanted without feeling inhibited by any old sense of what a man “should” do or show.

In Nick’s household the roles of parenting were flexible so both parents were taking on the roles of breadwinner and carer together. This modeled an adult life that will not confine his sons to feeling pressured to perform to a stereotype but be free to create any household or relationship dynamic that they chose.

LISTEN to this episode.

Download Transcripts of the full interviews: Kenny D’Cruz, David Brower and Nicholas Haines.

Follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tune into The Rise of the Feminine every Monday on Voice America 9am PST/5pm London

Huge Shifts are Disrupting the Balance of Relationships

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The Rise of the Feminine radio series has touched many corners of society and few areas have shown as much evidence of disruption as the realm of relationships. They are a central part of the human experience, so they are ground zero for the results of cultural influences and changes. How has the increase in opportunities for women affected loving relationships?In this week’s episode of The Rise of the Feminine, Gina Lazenby discussed the status of modern relationships in three age groups with my three experts in the USA and UK. These are some of the insights that came to light.

 

  • Susie Heath
    – one of UK’s leading intimacy experts speaking about Later Life Relationships
    •Women over 50, experience a child-free life for the first time in decades and breathes new life in them. They have more choices than their mothers and grandmothers before them and they take advantage of them professionally and socially.
    •Their partners on the other hand are ready to slow down and that puts pressure on the relationship. Men have to find their masculine energy to keep up and the relationship requires a revival.
    “Men are looking forward to a relaxing time and being on cruises or just golfing and the women are raring to go do something different.”

    Download a transcript of the full interview.

    Renee Piane
    – one of the USA’s top dating experts speaking about Wonderwomen – successful in business but still single
    “Where are all them men?” the women ask! Women have been so busy, focussed on success, taking on a masculine drive to excel …. this has made it a challenge for finding a relationship.  Slow down, change the pace and make space to accommodate a mate.
    •Women have to treat and nurture their own hearts to be able to align that masculine drive with the feminine nurturer that lies hidden within them. It’s the feminine softness, in addition to accomplishments, that men want women to bring to the relationship.
    “I’m here to say, you need to be able to switch off your wonder woman and tune into that feminine energy that men are dynamically attracted to.”

    “I’m here to say, you need to be able to switch off your wonder woman and tune into that feminine energy that men are dynamically attracted to.”
    Download a transcript of the full interview.

    Jack Myers
    – award-winning cultural visionary, speaking on the under 25s, a new generation of well educated girls and an emerging generation of lost boys
    •The modern woman has been handed the keys to the business world and she’s less interested in finding that special relationship. Relationships are now part of the career plan and young women take that decision more seriously because they don’t want a mate who might hold them back professionally.
    •Women lean on a strong network of other women and that has made their rise possible. All these connections were forged over a century of the women’s movement. Men aren’t keeping up because they don’t have access to male gatherings and discussions and the ‘old boys network’ that served their fathers is not for them.
    “Women are finding it much more difficult to find their educational equal and it’s more important to them than it was to men a couple of decades ago, to find to do so.”

    Download a transcript of the full interview.

Listen to the full episode on VoiceAmerica
Join the conversation on Facebook or follow Gina Lazenby on Twitter.

Feminine Wisdom: The World is Not Seeing Something it Needs

1. Feminine Wisdom is Missing from Our Vocabulary 

Feminine wisdom is not something we talk about, it doesn’t exist in our vocabulary and as a result so much of its value is missing from out everyday conversation. Karen Buckley says “I did an online search for wisdom and I discovered that most of the quotes are by men. Then I looked at wisdom in Wikipedia, the photographs are all of men. Old men with white beards. At that time, nobody was young and no women.” Using this as a reference, it’s clear that it’s a subject that remains unknown, even where it’s most necessary.

2. There are Virtually No References for Wise Women

In dictionaries wise women are described as “knowledgeable in matters such as herbal healing, magic charms or other traditional lore.” Even HM Queen Elizabeth, after celebrating her 90th birthday and a 60 year reign, isn’t referred to as a wise woman. Throughout the decades she has interacted with 13 Prime Ministers which has given her a supreme wisdom we don’t talk about. There just isn’t enough of an understanding of what makes a woman wise.

3. Feminine Wisdom is not Valued in Business, but it IS Needed

Business has so far not realized the benefits of feminine wisdom, but new ways of thinking and operating in an increasing number of companies have made an impact by starting to learn from feminine wisdom. This wisdom is incredibly necessary if we consider the needs of the modern individual. According to Leadership consultant Karen Wilhelm Buckley and Thought Leader in Gender Mentoring Betty-Ann Heggie;

  • Feminine wisdom is the blend of the external experience, competency, knowledge and deep inner knowing. It is demonstrated through applied empathy. It’s a quality that allows leaders to perform a service in conjunction with relationship.
  • It takes into account the emotional needs of the clients as well as the tactical or business needs.
  • In business, it takes into account the kinds of ripples of consequences that might be missed if an organisation was only looking through a tactical lens.
  • Feminine energy value systems, tend to be a lot more about the collective and a lot less about the individual.

4. The Reflective Nature of Feminine Wisdom is Necessary

Masculine styles of leadership tend to emphasize quick action over the silence and slower pace of reflection. Feminine wisdom finds answers and solutions by looking inward first and relying on our internal capacity when it comes to making decisions. In the wake of the Brexit resignations, newly appointed Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to take her time to make wise decisions by relying on internal reflection, as well as carefully and slowly looking at the data. She has been bringing her feminine wisdom into situations that have been forcing her to rush towards fast decision-making. Instead,  she has had the courage to step away, slow down, so she can make the best decisions.

5. Feminine Wisdom has a Language for the Internal Experience

Feminine leadership is all about having the courage to take the journey to find the authentic self. It trusts what comes from within and it’s less reliant on external voices and influences. Feminine Leadership Coach, Nyali Muir says, “the feminine is really about identifying and owning what’s going on inside and having a language brought in a landscape and our inner experiences. In the hyper-masculine world which we live, we’re so focused on the external and we have very little language and intelligence for our internal experience.

Karen Wilhelm Buckley, Betty Ann Heggie and Nyali Muir were guest contributors on the Rise of the Feminine radio show on Monday September 12th, 2016. Listen here.

Transcripts of the Interviews are Available for Download

Download the transcript of Karen’s interview.

Download the transcript of Betty-Ann’s interview.

Download the transcript of Nyali’s interview.

Episode 6 Coming up next Monday on Feminine Wisdom!

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I am really enjoying the conversations that I am having with a variety of experts and leaders. And I hope you agree, if you’ve had chance to listen to any of the shows, that the discussions are really interesting. This radio series is giving me wonderful opportunities to meet fascinating new people and reconnect with good friends who I might have interviewed in the past for my blogs. That would include Karen Buckley who I met in San Francisco in 2009 and since then we have co-hosted many women’s gatherings in the city and Marin County.

On my next show I reconnected with Karen to talk about feminine wisdom. (I did an interview with her way back in 2010, here, when I called in to her house one Saturday morning when both of us couldn’t be bothered to put on our normal camera make-up … keeping’ it real LOL!) Anyway, we have recently been discussing the impact of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign…. how well-behaved women rarely make history and I’m going to ask Karen to talk about how the wisdom of women is so invisible.

The Country Report for this episode on Monday will be from Canada where I tracked down the brilliant Betty Ann Heggie, literally through an inspired Google search. She is one of the top 100 women of influence in Canada and I’m asking her what makes her country different and how the more feminine values are shaping her nation. I was particularly impressed when he new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, immediately create a 50/50 gender balanced cabinet on coming into office last year. Instead of talking about change needing to happen in the future (like the UK’s David Cameron, he just went ahead and did it!).

Lastly I am reconnecting with the lovely leadership coach Nyali Muir. Nyali has attended many of the women’s gatherings that I used to host in my London home and she’s always brought great wisdom to our evenings. I’m going to ask her about her individual journey, the wisdom she has learnt and what led her to coaching the Kenyan Olympics team.

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Helen Walbey: A Beacon of Feminine Leadership in a Male-Dominated Field

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A woman working and running a business in a male-dominated field is usually met with the expectation that she has to take on masculine leadership traits and prove herself to be “one of the boys” to succeed. Founder and owner of Recycle Scooters believes in the power of feminine leadership and she has instilled those values in the operations and culture of her business. She has found that this adds value to her business and gets the best out of every member of the team.

She Invests in Relationships with People

“I do business differently.  I am much happier to pay someone perhaps a little bit more rather than get the absolute cut-throat deal to be able to establish a good relationship with them.”

She Builds a Positive Bond

“A lot of the time it is just about touching base, finding out how their business is going, saying hi, and that establishes that positive bond and instead of doing that very male, “what are you going to do for me / what am I going to do for you?” It’s about that much more feminine idea of building those bridges and establishing those links.”

She Respects Family

“My office administrator is a single mum and I have had her poorly kids in work all tucked up under a duvet because they were ill and she wanted to come in to work so we made a place in the unit that is safe where they can go and we have had the kids come in after school because there wasn’t anyone to look after them. It’s about finding that balance. Now if I was stereotypical I probably wouldn’t be prepared to do that but it is about understanding that if I give the best I can to my employees, I get the best that my employees can give.”

She Values People and Thinks of the Whole Person

“If you have one unhappy cog, then none of the rest of the cogs are going to work as well so even if you take away all of the holistic side, even if you take away all of the feminine principle side, and you just want to be ruthless about it, financially it makes much more common sense for me to look after my staff in an appropriate way because it means my business is going to run more efficiently.”

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The Opportunities Soft Power Presents for Women

Soft power isn’t a new concept, but with the changes society has faced in the last two decades – it has taken on a different form. Soft Power has become a necessary solution to global conflict and a crucial skill in sales and business. As it garners more interest, women are presented with an opportunity to thrive, because soft power is so closely in line with the way we naturally interact with the world and make an impact.

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Women are driven by connectivity and empathy. These fit right in with the definition of soft power. Hard power, on the other hand leans on a level of disconnect and distance. Sympathy and empathy are considered to be more feminine qualities because they require an emotional connection. Innately, women seek emotional connection and a sense of community. Indra Adnan says, “right from an early age, young women start to depend on relationships as the thing that they need to cultivate to have influence rather than hard power.” We’re taught to engage with the world and other people, seeking an exchange of understanding and a mutual openness which serve what we aim to get out of our lives socially and professionally.

Sales and marketing have shifted away from the “sell, sell, sell” model, towards a culture of building relationships and encouraging dialogue. Deals aren’t closed at the very first interaction – both sides have to understand each other and build trust. This is impossible in a culture that’s driven by numbers, as masculine leadership tends to be. Soft power is built on sharing values and focusing more on the personal – so names over numbers prevail in within that field.

When you move into soft power you’re opening dialogue and creating what Adnan calls a “corridor of influence” where the need for mutual benefit guides the actions taken. This becomes necessary when the world faces conflicts and issues that need a special grasp to produce lasting solutions. Soft power is the ability to solve problems without using force and rather relying on open dialogue. It’s taking a diplomatic route before a military action, choosing to use the power of conversation before taking a hard-handed approach. The benefit of this? It creates solutions with lasting positive impacts. Dropping a bomb can solve the immediate problem but the devastation that it would leave behind would make that victory hollow. Taking a soft power approach means connecting with that community and finding a solution that still puts their needs at the top of the lost of priorities.

Soft power also depends on openness and self-understanding. It’s being so comfortable in your individuality that you can be open to someone else’s. Openness is the beginning of successful dialogue and conversation. Women are able to achieve openness by understanding the value of learning from someone else. We’re open because it’s necessary if we want to build strong and lasting relationships and because people are more likely to share their humanity with us in a positive space, where they feel heard and valued.

Rise of the Feminine Episode 5 Radio: Gender Economics and Feminine Vision to Action

Next week Monday, we take a look at Gender Economics, the contributions to society made by women, and the role that international policy-making organisations play in the process between vision and action.

Gina Lazenby’s first guest is lecturer and international public speaker Africa Zanella. She is also the CEO and founder of the Centre for Sustainability and Gender Economics. Her passion is sustainability, gender equality and its connection to economic growth. She’s based in Spain but works all over the world developing programs, and implementing change that supports sustainable growth that positively  impacts women. She’s also a member of the Green Learning Economy and is involved with Climate change and G20 expert review committees.

The Country Report takes us to Cape Town, South Africa where we meet Madelein Mkunu and hear about how visionary women are stepping forward with initiatives to rebuild the country. We’ll discover that women’s contribution to uplifting the continent is so much more about buildings than it is about bangles and beads.

Finally the One Woman feature is on grandmother and retired guesthouse owner, Valerie Humphreys. She returned from an adventure holiday with an unexpected project – sponsoring a porter in Uganda in his quest to be a medical doctor.

Our guests reveal the important strides women are making to empower communities and the important economic contributions their initiatives and organisations are making. It’s inspiring to see this leadership in action and hear the stories of these real life heroines! Don’t miss this episode this Monday 9am PST/5pm BST. You can tune in on VoiceAmerica or listen to the podcast on iTunes. In the meantime, join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or email

Indra Adnan’s Key Insights on Soft Power

Examining the qualities of feminine leadership requires us to explore power, how it is expressed and it’s outcomes. It inevitably results in the need to draw parallels between hard power and soft power. The latter is a quality attributed to modern leaders, who are tuned into what really inspires progress and change, according to how they face challenges and provide solutions for global issues. The first step to understanding what soft power is, is having clarity on how technology has reshaped and redefined it. Soft power, according to Indra Adnan, doesn’t exist in the same context it did when it was coined by Joseph Nye in the 1980s. “We’re in the middle of a revolution of connectivity. It’s no longer the state handing information down. Now the information travels horizontally as much as it does vertically. That’s why soft power now has quite a different meaning than it did in the days of Joseph Nye.”

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Soft power’s abilities and qualities have become more necessary as the world continues to evolve. “It would be good if we think about soft power as the way to solve problems first before we move on to hard power.” Because it allows for open dialogue, a real understanding of the needs of people and shapes the space for action, soft power serves a fundamental purpose in conflicts, international relations and business. Indra also provided 3 key insights that define and reflect soft power.

Soft Power is the Ability to Connect and Build Relationships

Soft power begins when you are connecting with people. You might think from the way I described it that it’s really marketing or propaganda or something. But actually it’s the ability to form relationships with people. Hard power depends on a certain level of disconnect. You can shape things with money through the power of disconnecting from them. 

Soft Power is the Ability to Solve through Influence and Not Force 

What’s stronger? The stone, the scissor or the paper? The paper is the soft power so the stone is the hard power. It has some kind of effect but paper wraps stone.

Soft Power is the Ability to Solve Problems the Sustainable Way 

While hard power solutions may appear to fix the problem, they don’t fix them for long. They are very temporary solutions. So you might drop a bomb, a drone might take out a group of terrorists, but the effects on the grounds are horrendous. Hard power rarely creates permanent solutions. Soft power, at least, is based on relationships and engagement, so it has the possibility of transcending the conflict. 

Bernhard Plecher’s Thoughts on Female Intelligence in Business

Businesses and companies take on the characteristics of the people that lead them. For better or worse there is a code ingrained in the inner workings of every business entity that’s defined by the attitude and character of the founders and management.

When a business or even a country moves on the pulse of a softer style of leadership, in what ways are operations and employees impacted and what makes them different from companies that take on a harder, more masculine approach? According to Bernhard Plecher, co-founder of German company Westhouse, the differences are immense through the discovery of his own experience.

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After embarking on a journey that led to him transforming the core of his organization, Bernhard discovered the power of feminine values and their abilities to extract greatness from employees. Bernhard was also able to extract a greater benefit; he experienced the transition from being the stereotypical stressed out, sleep deprived businessman to a well rested leader who experiences joy and fulfillment in every moment of his work. He says, “every person wants to grow and it’s just not that you have to ask them to grow by putting pressure on them but believing in them more and giving space and then they feel the trust and confidence that you give them.”

Much can be learned from Westhouse’s leadership shift into a healthy, forward thinking workplace that puts freedom and personal growth at the center of goals and business objectives. Bernhard understood feminine values and he learned the following;

  • Women have the ability to listen and support. This makes them the kinds of leaders that are tuned into the needs of employees. Support is given beyond the achievement of greater business goals but towards the personal advancement of the people that work under them.
  • Women have greater access to their hearts and they use this access to lead with compassion, strength and the quest for a fulfillment that goes beyond money.
  • Feminine leadership is less ego-driven, and it’s willing to share the spotlight. This makes big steps towards harmony in the workplace and sets the stage for teamwork and the fruits of a healthy, unified team of employees.

A feminine style of leadership is driven by the need for what Bernhard calls a “bigger harmony”, By instilling this important value into operations, Westhouse has excelled and achieved international success because of “a harmonization of qualities and energies.”