Feminine leadership style is characterised by empathy, collaboration, and intuition while masculine leadership style is characterised by competition, control, and power. While both styles can be successful in achieving goals, they tend to differ in how they approach and solve problems.
Why do companies with greater gender diversity do better? Could it be that leaders of those companies appreciate and leverage both “masculine” and “feminine” approaches to work? Could outcomes be better because they are products of a balance of the two? Could this result in greater engagement and retention of women?
Both masculine and feminine approaches have strengths and limitations. When an organization is dominated by either masculine or feminine approaches, there is a risk that the downsides of that approach will emerge. With a balance of masculine and feminine approaches, the organization gets more of the strengths and less of the downsides of each. And there is more likely to be a balance with both men and women at the top.
Today in Women Lead Nadia & Tiana discuss all this and more sharing their personal stories and own management styles, as well as provide a few book recommendations!
Produced and Hosted by Nadia Koski & Tiana Madera
Engineered by Phil McDowell
Project Leads Dennis Kirschnir & Stefanie Leonardi
Welcome to Women Lead. In this episode, Tiana and I explore how you can effectively communicate in any situation and how that is influenced by your leadership energy. Before you say this is a little too woowoo for me, hear me out. We discussed the differences between masculine and feminine energy, what that looks like and how we need a balance of both to successfully manage our professional and personal projects and careers. Side note, asking for help does not mean weakness. Tiana shares a really interesting life lesson when she was travelling solo through South America. Let's dive in.
Hey, Nadia. What's so funny, Nadia?
Oh, we got the giggles.
We got the giggles,
Hi Tiana, what's happening on your side of the world? What's going on?
All right, concentrate here. What is happening? Wow. So I had a really interesting experience this past week. I went and did a guest lecturer for a communications class at Florida State University here in Florence. I was invited by my good friend Simona Anselmi. And it was for his communications class. And it was really cool to talk to these kids about communication styles, which is also I think, really tied to leadership styles and also how we can effectively communicate with people according to which situations that we're in. We discussed also what it's like to communicate online, you know, to be remote. So talking to these kids, a lot of them are in situations where they have to do remote interviews, and they're all on video calls.
And all of us have been living this experience post COVID And how that changes our communication style and how we have to lead teams or communicate within teams also remotely not always being in person, and what that means for our different styles of communication. And together with that, I started thinking about how we lead, how we communicate, and the different types of leadership styles that everyone has. And that led me to some research and some reading.
We'll put all these in the show notes. But I've been reading this book called Shakti leadership by Lima, Bach and Raj Sisodia. And I also just ordered this new book that just came out, the new book by Julia Burstein called When Women Lead: What We Achieve, Why We Succeed and What We Can Learn. All this to say, I started exploring different leadership types and different energy types that we have when we communicate. So I wanted to talk a little bit today...
Ooh, I like this energy talk.
Yeah, How we lead, what styles we have, what kind of energy we lead with, and how sometimes that's associated with feminine energy or masculine energy.
First off, I think we need a book club. Secondly, I think I need time to join a book club. But in a perfect world, I would love to read those books along with you. Speaking about books, something that kind of, spurred when you were talking was Radical Candor. Oh, sorry, Radical Candor is one book, which is more specific to professional lives. But radical acceptance, I think is like a deeper level of a book by Tara Brach, meditation teacher and psychologist. And I started reading her book this year. It's one of those books where when you buy it, you know, you should read it, but it just stares at you for a few years before you finally read it.
Yeah, you're like, oh, That could have been helpful to me two years ago. But here we are. And yeah, it's been interesting, because even though it's a personal reflective book of like, accepting basically, she says that real radical acceptance is not the approval of a situation, but it's acknowledging that the situation occurred, and it cannot be changed. So the idea is like how to move forward from there from where you are versus just ruminating in shame, or guilt or blame. Anyway, so I, I love that book as well, which I think is in again, like what you would think of a leadership book, but it's a personal development, eye opening book that's been really helpful to me and understanding. Because what I'm learning through that book is like the more of course I accept myself, my flaws, my thoughts, the easier it is for me to see that in other people. So my leadership style can shift a little bit, which I know we'll get into, like masculine, feminine, I tend to lead a little bit masculine.
Let's talk about that. Do you change your leadership style? So these are two questions that I immediately thought of when I was always thinking about leadership style and energies and things? Do you change your leadership style according to who you have in front of you or your team or the situation? Or do you tend to always go back to the same type of responses or techniques or communication tactics?
Ah, I think I mean, it would be interesting to see a study on this like, I think we adjust accordingly. But I think just innately we kind of know how to manoeuvre people like you know, when as a kid, you kind of know how to get things out of your dad versus your mom, right and like, so I probably unconsciously talk to my boss a different way, of course, than I talk to a peer, and then a male peer versus a female peer maybe, or one that's doing well, versus one who's not doing well. For me, I think I know I lean more masculine, which is heavier handed and direct. But I've noticed that the more awareness I bring to myself, the more I could tell, like, Oh, I am actually treating people differently, according to XYZ. Now, how can I shift it? So it's right for the moment, not right for maybe how I feel or what's like, natural for me? So yeah, I mean, I tend to lean a little bit, a little bit masculine, I'm trying to shift that accordingly.
That's another good point, though. Because we all have our own styles, right? So it's, your own style. And if you tend to have more masculine energy, that's just how you are. But from what I've been reading, and also trying to practice is that you always need a balance of both in order to get forward, right?
Yeah, what I've learned, if I lean a little bit masculine, it's my natural inclination to like, bring in a little bit more feminine. And when I say that, it's like, if I'm a bit heavy handed or overbearing, I could feel it myself. So then I'm like, Ooh, how do I quickly shift to like, a little bit more, like giving space and you know, but I've noticed something that I would love to know what you think so I know, let's look at some, some notes we have.
So I know, masculine leans a little bit more to controlling and then the feminine to me is more of a caretaking role. So one thing I've noticed is that, when I've tried to also support a team member, it can come off as caretaking, which I don't want to do, because then that's also controlling in a different way where you're still trying to, like, control the outcome of a situation. And so now I've just learned to like, kind of listen and give space to people then trying to like solve them from their inevitable error. And just like let people learn a little bit more and like, through their own work, they can learn to trust themselves, which makes them like stronger for the team.
Oh, yeah, that's a good one. I think it's also you mentioned caregiving, right? I think as women, managing teams, there is always a slight tendency towards that feminine energy or leadership style. I know, I tend to have that too. But I also think it's important. And as one very smart woman tells me very frequently, you're not their mom.
Exactly. Actually, that should be a t- shirt, some bosses where it's a good reminder that we're, I see, I noticed that myself, I'm like, Oh, I'm taking away a lesson from somebody here. Like they need to, I won't say suffer, but like they need to experience a consequence,
Yes, and they need to figure it out themselves.
Yes. Where like, so it's funny because you have masculine, feminine, both, both of the negatives of those can lead to the same outcome, which is controlling in a way, you know, but yeah, it's a matter of like, how the other person feels on the other side. Like personally, me I don't like to be caretaken. I don't like to be told and handheld. Like, that's just not me. I think that's why I lean more into the masculine because I like the direct and like, critical feedback versus pretending everything's okay kind of thing.
Let's break that down, though. Pretending everything's okay...
Yeah, sorry, It's a little rough. Well, like meaning, like avoiding things versus just calling it out. You know what I mean? being direct? Yeah.It's just helpful to know, where do I stand? Like, personally, it's hard for me to trust a group of people if I don't know, really what's going on? Or what the intentions are? Or, or Yeah, what everybody actually thinks or wants to do versus just placating? You know, and I don't know if that's one energy versus the other because I think just avoiding topics is quite universal.
I’m not an expert by any means, but being a bit more indirect as a feminine trait. So when there's a tendency maybe to avoid or to just not, you know, maybe just put it on the backburner, not just be direct and out with it straight away being more indirect that tends to be more of a feminine trait.
What's your story? Like how do you lead and how do you actually like to be led?
So I, I think I'm also very much a mix a mix of both of these characteristics, because I also like to be very direct with my team, or with other people that I'm working with. I Don't beat around the bush, I like to, you know, have very specific and direct communication. At the same time though, I realised that I take into consideration who was in front of me, the situation that we're in, you know, the type of person that I'm dealing with and how to build a relationship with them. Because obviously, if there's no, if you just go into, we talked about this in our last episode, actually know on our first episode, when you’re talking about friendships at the workplace, obviously, if you just start every meeting being super direct and saying, Okay, Hi everyone, today, we're going to go into…. its just boring. And so you know, you don't establish a connection.
And having establishing a relationship with who I'm working with, and who I have in front of me is super important to me. And that is more of a feminine type of characteristic. I do like to combine that though, with more masculine energy, which is being direct, concise, giving deadlines, having very clear roles set out and understanding what the actual goal and results should be. Then taking that and applying that in a team setting and saying, Okay, this is the goal we want to reach. And how are we going to do this together, which is more of the process, feminine type of energy. So that's how I like to lead, I would say, it's almost a mixture, like, I would say, 60%, feminine 40% masculine.
How I like to be led is almost similar. I don't want people that don't want to establish a relationship with me. I appreciate when people reach out and, you know, ask me how my day was, or, you know, we have that small little chit chat before, or they come back to me. And, you know, if we were talking about something outside of work, they asked me how things went, I really value that. And I think it's a good sign that someone is trying to be open and clear with you and, you know, get to know you better. So I would say, I lead how I like to be led.
Exactly, I think thas also goes with like love relationships. That's why like, love languages are so important to know, because you give what you want, you know? Yeah, usually, I'm trying to think too, I remember. Yeah. When we talked about mentorship in the previous episode about adjusting leadership styles. For certain people. I know, there's the last I don't know, maybe a year, I've been really more aware of my approach or reaction to people and like, when to not react and just like, you know, hold your tongue and let things unfold. And that's been interesting to like really adjust per person, which does take a lot of energy. But of course, it builds better relationships, better teams, which I'm wondering if that's more, I mean, feminine trait where you're trying to, I don't know, if like the word fair, makes sense. But something where I guess relationships matter is like the quote unquote, like feminine trait, where you are kind of shifting and a bit malleable for the team versus just like, this is who you are, and this is how we're doing things.
Head strong against the wind, no matter what ride or die.
Yeah, that's like, usually my flag that I fly. But I get a lot of stuff done. I just know, I guess for me, too, as a leader, I think about, I had a conversation about this the other day with someone on my team. And I was like, they're thanking me for something. And I was like, Yeah, you know, my style, I know, could be tough sometimes. But my goal is your growth not to caretake you like I want to push you I want to, like if I'm not here tomorrow, I know, everything's gonna run even better. Because, you know, I gave you the responsibility that I think was beyond.
I mean, I didn't say all this, but like, this is what I'm thinking. When I'm leading someone with more of a heavier hand, I'm actually thinking in their interest, even though I may not feel like that, I think I have to just figure out a softer approach. But my intention is the quality of the work and their growth at the same time, versus just having people bump into each other on a project and not really applying themselves or pushing themselves, which I guess can also lead to well, how do you even motivate a team? You know, but I find it sometimes some people, we talked about this last time, too, like some people just kind of want to clock in and clock out. So you have to figure out well, then what makes a good team for you? You know,
And that's a good point. How do you motivate people in projects or, you know, towards certain goals at work? And a have them feel confident about what they're doing to, you know, to do their part to go towards that goal, but also be how to have them, you know, build their trust in themselves, right, without falling into maybe micromanaging or constantly asking, Is this done? You know, going back to like deadline deadline deadline, which is a more masculine type of trait. Like, okay, this is the goal, this is the deadline, this is what we're going to do. You do this, I do this, you do that, done.
Obviously, I'm simplifying it a little bit here. But sometimes that's needed. You know, if there's like a really intense project, short deadlines, and you, I feel, you can almost do that a bit more when you're working with a team that you've worked with for a while, and people know how you are, and you have a good relationship already. Sometimes that's needed, right? And yeah, you have to be flexible to know, okay, this is Project A, it needs to be done next week, this is what you're doing, this is what you're doing.
And then sometimes, you know, if you have built that trust with your team members, they should feel confident to come and tell you, Hey, I'm fine with doing that. But please know that that's actually going to take like three or four days, not just one day. And I really appreciate that when my team comes to me. And they'll say, okay, not just okay. And then radio silence. And then the deadline comes, like, you know, day before you're like so, and they're like,
Oh, yeah, that's hard. That's so hard. I'm trying to encourage my team to do that. So that I do it too. Because, I mean, it happens where I'm like, I think I can make it by Friday. Because even though we're managing teams, we also have our own workloads. And you know, I, I have my own deadlines, and I'm like, Oh, my God, how are we gonna just, you know, suck it up?
We should definitely have an episode on time management.
Jesus, I know, I'm still learning. It's so cute, the 13 year old girl that I am her big sister and big brothers, big sister. And we were talking last time about like, well, what are some goals that you have that I can help you with? And she said, time management. I'm like, You know what we can learn together? I think that what's important is again, like knowing yourself, like so the, the more I understand what rattles me, or what makes me feel overwhelmed, I could express to the team like, Hey, by the way, if I ever say this or that like that, I need this due by this date, or this time.
And if there is a conflict, I'm expecting you to come to me. So like I have to, as the team lead, like open the door up so that they even acknowledged like, oh, you know what Tiana did mention I can? Like it's okay sometimes to be like, Hey, can I get it to the next day? Because I mean, sometimes we have our deadlines, and sometimes they're very useful. Sometimes they're a little futile, just because we want to get things in for management review. And that's the other thing. I'm not sure which, side convo, but like if, if I know no one's going to look at a deck until Friday, but yet someone's like, oh, we need it by Wednesday. I'm like, Why do you need it by Wednesday? It's just gonna sit in an inbox. So like, can we be realistic here?
Realistic deadlines are always much appreciated.
Let's see, I'm wondering, like, what's a feminine trait, that maybe you lean into too much that you want to kind of back out of right? Because I think everything is within the feminine/ masculine? There's also like a yin and the yang, almost within each energy source?
Oh, for sure. I think for me as a manager, I am for certain things very much type A, and I want it done a certain way. And I will do it myself. So for me, it was relinquishing that control of perfection. And that was that made me lean more into feminine traits of making requests or asking, which I wasn't used to doing actually, I was used to, you know, getting things done on time, whatever deadlines, but if that project needed help from someone else, I was more hesitant to ask for help with things.
And I'm slowly learning that is what you need to do, especially on big projects, and especially when these projects involve global teams, and you can't obviously handle every detail. So I'm trying to lean more into asking for help from the people that I know can help me out in those specific areas. And then also, the collaboration aspect. So for me, like I put all my energy, especially in a team setting, I'm all about collaborating.
So the yin and the yang, the masculine and the feminine is about giving clear direction as to where the project is or what the brief is or what you know, the goal over overall goal of it is, but then really collaborating together and it's really cool. In my team, we have many, many different aspects between writing copy, and video and audio and social media. And so many times all of our projects are very much a collaborative effort and I rely heavily on that, that type of feminine energy, let's say, of getting everyone together, you know, making sure that everyone in their own area is contributing and having a good time or communicating effectively if they need help, things like that.
That's cool. I love that. I mean, you're very conscious of it too and you're working on it. This is a shift, especially asking for help, like I, I know, that seems to be a big thing, like a big talking point that you hear, whether it's in like other podcasts or interviews or articles and like learning how it's okay to ask, and I always do one thing, I try to connect with myself, and whenever I feel nervous about something, I'm like, well, what, what am I actually upset or concerned about? I'm like, well, if I ask for help, that means like, I can't do it. And then I have to be like, but it doesn't really mean you can't do it. You just can't do all of it.
And you have so many projects, like you need support. And I think about all the great leaders. I mean, well, you know, my ex Nico, Nico one time asked me, he's like, so does your dad play tennis during the day? I'm like, yeah. He's like, oh, so your dad's the boss? And I'm like, Yeah, I guess so. And I'm only saying that because it's like, you know, he had a really big responsibility. But he also like, used tennis, he delegated, but to use sports to also connect with other leaders at other resorts or whatever. He was in hospitality. And it reminded me, he wasn't burning the midnight oil all the time. He got what he needed, done, and then made sure other people had to do what they if not, I mean, he would have never been home, it's like, oh, I took it all on myself. So same thing with you, where it's something of remembering there's a team and remembering people also want to help and feel useful and valued, not just yes, get the grunt work, you know?
Yes. I think that's so important. I, think a lot of times, I feel sometimes that if I'm asking someone for help, that this is just a little voice in my head that says, Oh, well, why can't you just do it? Or you should be able to do it? Why are you asking help for this aspect. And then the other part is, people are very willing to help you. They're very willing to come out and, you know, help you in a project or help you in a certain aspect. And if you ask them, they're not gonna kill you. They're not gonna bite you. They're not gonna disown you but help will more than happily. Yeah, most of the time. With fair warning. Reach out and, and help give you a hand.
It's crazy. whoever's listening, just record, just remember that it's all in your head. Yeah, cuz I think about it. I was, I took a trip and I drove through the Andes landed in Argentina...
Girl, where was I on this trip? Why was I invited?
It was October and it was wonderful. But basically, when I arrived in Argentina, I got altitude sickness. And I've never had it that badly before and like, you know, we've skied the mountains and like, I've lived in like, you know, 8000 feet high before and anyways, this drive just knocked me and I remember…
What is that like, though? Is that like, you just like feel dizzy, or are you just…?
I felt like, literally, I asked a woman I was like, Do my eyes look bigger? And she's like, No, they they feel like they doubled in size. So I literally thought the physical. Like my eye, the physical build of it had grown. That's what it feels like. So the pressure Yeah, it was awful. And like this headache, and then a little bit of, I wouldn't say hard to breathe. But it's like, that's the part that you're like, is it in my head? Like what's going on? But anyways, remember this the woman? Because I was travelling alone. And I was like, Well, I don't want to die in my sleep. So can the doctor come see me ask for help. So this is this is where you asked for help. Yeah. And I, this was amazing, because I will and I think about this woman a lot. She was a nurse from like, the emergency care, whatever. And she came to the hotel.
And she was talking to me and she clearly didn't look concerned. So I'm just like, Why isn't she concerned? I don't feel well. And of course to her. It's like, Girl, you'll be fine. But she's like, you're not alone. And when you drive back to Chile, to return the car in Chile, I was like, well, I'm nervous. I need medicine to drive back. You know, five days I'm going through the same routine. And she's like, there's people there. If you're sick, you can ask anyone and they will help you and I didn't even think like oh my god, I could just on the side of the road. Just ask someone to like I never thought of that. I just thought oh, I'm travelling alone. I only have myself. I can't do that. on anybody else I have, you know, which added more pressure and more anxiety for nothing. And then clearly I had probably level one or two of whatever, like the symptoms I was feeling it wasn't that brutal. It definitely I mean, it rocked me a bit.
But yeah, I don't know, I, I take that into work a lot to have just like, wait a second, every time I ask for someone to help I have yet to had hear the word no. So like, that also reassures me like, Okay, I'm doing what's right for me and the team. You know, it's not just like my project or my… because I don't do it for the glory. I do it because I'm crazy. That's like, it's not like, I should be like, this was my project. Yeah, it's just, it's this neuroses we have in our head. But yeah, the title should just be like, ask for help for this.
Yeah, for sure. I think that is super relevant and important. And something that every day, we can all remind ourselves, because we aren't alone. And we have teams we have, you know, bosses, mentors, friends.
You mentioned empathy before. So as we're kind of closing up, I'm wondering, when you think of leading with empathy, what that means to you, and like how maybe you've seen it yourself. And because sometimes when you see it in a leader, it inspires you to shift as well.
Empathy to me means understanding, or trying to understand, put yourself in someone else's shoes, the person that you have in front of you, and really just imagine where they're coming from. And that is, I think, the hardest thing to do sometimes, especially when you're dealing with assholes.
Because sometimes, you know, you're, it's gonna happen in your professional experience, not everyone is gonna be lovely, and, and quaint and friendly. And you'll have the token asshole. Male or female, probably more than one. And sometimes, though, when people tend to be standoffish, or you know, just not really receptive.
The first thing I tried to do is imagine, okay, maybe they're, they're having a crappy day. You know, they're going through a tough time, maybe in their personal life. Yeah. It's just not their week, their month. And then the second thing is kill with kindness. So I try to always take that breath. I didn't always do this, I usually shot my mouth off. But I have learned in the past decade.
Nadia? Quiet? Never.
I usually respond immediately. And then that can backfire. So what I've learned in the past 10 years, and I'm really thankful to one of my former bosses for this lesson is, you know, just take a second, do not speak, wait, you know, take two breaths, or so maybe three or four. And then empathy is just okay.
That person is just not having a great time right now. Yeah. And I think the other thing always to think about, it's not personal, it's usually never personal, especially in a professional experience. And leading with empathy just means putting yourself in that person's position, and trying to understand where they're coming from. So you can, so you can form a relationship. I mean, that, for me is the end goal, right? Not necessarily getting the project done, or the deadline, whatever. At the end of the day, we're all in this world. And we're making relationships in every job in every situation where we live, where we travel, and that is what enriches our lives. That was really cheesy.
To make a connection with someone and understand where someone else is coming from, because you can learn from that. It's true,
I mean, hey, we're talking about energy today. You can talk about cheesy stuff, it's fine.
But I wanted to ask you, before we wrap up, what is the masculine or feminine energy that you want to lean more into your leadership style?
Oh, leaning into let's see, I know caretaking is something I want to lean away from, because I noticed that if they're I'm trying to like save someone from like the inevitable, like if I have something to share with leadership, I'm just like, I should just tell them versus like trying to tiptoe you know, forgetting like it's their job to handle difficult conversations or difficult situations, but leading into let me think so I know for sure. Something I've been conscious of is relinquishing control. So building trust more and empowering the team, so I'm not sure what that would fall under. I guess empowering the team would be a feminine trait.
So networking of Yeah, creating that power for your team in a collaborative setting.
Yeah and for me it’s tough because I like to do good work and its not like people don’t but my brain goes to this direction to do great work it's gotta be this way, and like we can’t have faux pas and be like hey shit happens sometimes so let it happen and move on. And when shit happens that's just a part of the process it doesn’t mean that anyone is bad or any reflection on me that's just a part of living, you know you walk down the street and you trip and fall and you get back up and you keep walking and not when you walk down the street you have to look perfect all the time. It just feels rigid too. So I think relinquishing some control and building teams' intuition and like their own personal confidence is something I'm focused on.
I like that. We’ll have a follow up episode and we can both let each other know how its going.
And a follow up on time management. So that's it. We are done for the day.