As one man best expressed it:

“When women try to become masculine, they give up their true strength. Women are already upstream in the Universe—they just need to flow with the current rather than fight it and try to go the wrong way.” – Rob

 Many women today believe that to succeed in the workplace they must set aside their femininity and operate from their masculine energy. However, for those of us with a strong feminine core, this means an endless struggle to stay in an energy that is foreign to us. Because a masculine role is not natural to us, we aren’t living from an authentic place. We keep ourselves from fully expressing our innate competencies. As a result, we are not performing at our best. Even worse, we accumulate stresses that take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. Our bodies protest and become tense and rigid because this is not our true energy. We risk burning out.

Correspondingly, we have all observed women in leadership roles who act as if they can gain more power and control by being rude, overbearing, and domineering. Far from being examples of empowerment, they mimic the behaviors of lesser, insecure men. Truly effective leaders, men and women alike, lead by example and empower others, rather than by ego domination and control. Men have made it very clear to me that women have extraordinary power over them—if they are being feminine.

Here is a refreshing bit of information I learned from men: Women acting masculine is not what elicits respect. In fact, men see it as a weakness—a sign of cowardice, because they don’t have the courage to be themselves. What’s respected in the workplace is a woman (or a man) who is talented, capable and competent at what they do. Therefore, a woman who’s competent in her field and who has the courage to be authentically feminine at the same time can be powerfully effective.

The fact that women don’t need to act masculine to be successful is not an arbitrary conclusion. It is supported by the men I’ve talked with. They overwhelmingly expressed the belief that a woman can be a great leader while staying feminine. Rather than trying to mimic masculine qualities, a woman can effectively leverage her feminine (e.g., connecting and relating abilities) to lead a team by gathering the best ideas and using her influence to orchestrate agreement. This way, the organization can accomplish a goal with the whole team buying in. Some of the details may require more masculine energy, and if she chooses, there is nothing wrong with temporarily exercising her masculine energy, or delegating tasks to those better suited to them. She loves her team or organization into success, just as she would her family. She leads from her authentic feminine, not a façade of masculinity.

 

Femininity: A Perfect Design

Imagine Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. She has an inner glow about her. She exudes radiance with her warm smile, sparkling eyes and soft skin. In a relaxed manner, she gracefully moves through life, cheerfully interacting with others, appreciating and creating beauty wherever she goes. She thrives on her relationships, including being warm and receptive to men and inspiring their cooperation.

Now, picture that Aphrodite has decided to go masculine by “dressing for success.” She cuts her long locks, trades her flowing gown for a dark business suit, and rather than living from her natural feminine essence, sets her sights on climbing the corporate ladder to achieve power and material wealth. It may seem at first glance she is embarking on a path of achievement … but she discovers pretty quickly that she has traded away far more than she has gained.

However, despite all the confusion out there, femininity is not lost. It’s an intrinsic part of who we are as women. Just as the sun is not gone when clouds cover it, our femininity simply needs to be uncovered so that it can shine through us again. Like Aphrodite, we are so much more effective when we operate from our natural essence—instead of altering an already perfect design!

Excerpt from Chapter 1, Whatever Happened to Femininity? Simply Feminine, Surprising Insights from Men by Morgan Wonderly.

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