THE CENTER FOR THIRD AGE LEADERSHIP NEWSLETTER – JULY 2016
1. FATHER WILLIAM’S MUSINGS
2. WHAT’S ‘AN EXCESS OF PATRIARCHY’?
3. M.B.M LEADERSHIP: “REMEMBER 5-YEAR-OLDS COME IN ALL AGES”
4. WOMEN ARE MORE COLLABORATIVE, INCLUSIVE LEADERS
5. THIS MONTH’S LINKS
QUOTES OF THE MONTH – VOLTAIRE (1765) & MATTHEW FOX (2003)
Q: “What do the Enron Corporation, the Catholic Church
and the Bush Administration all have in common?”
A: “An excess of patriarchy.”
1. FATHER WILLIAM’S MUSINGS
July Greetings, Dear Friends…
If Matthew Fox posed the question above in 2016, I think he would have included ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Donald Trump, Fox News, etc., as well — but the answer would still be the same:
“An excess of patriarchy.”
This is why the nomination of a woman for President of the United States is such a transforming event; many, maybe even a majority, of us Americans are finally able to perceive the gifts of the Feminine as equal and complementary to the gifts of the the Masculine! This is a huge step for a society that, despite its better intentions, has discriminated against so many for so long…
So please understand this newsletter is not about an American political event — it is about the celebration of a healthy, necessary and long delayed step in the evolution of our stumbling human species.
These Musings are brief because they continue in each of the pieces that follow – for better or worse, you get mostly me this month…
2. WHAT’S ‘AN EXCESS OF PATRIARCHY’?
What’s ‘an excess of patriarchy’?
And why are so many of us concerned by it?
These are important and relevant questions in the 21st century.
“An excess of patriarchy” means any form of culture – family, school, religion, business, state, nation or association – that is unbalanced toward the Masculine (not the same as male) and thereby short changes the Feminine (not the same as female).
The distinction between the psychological qualities Masculine and Feminine and the biological genders male and female is complex, not widely understood and still being debated across the world. I don’t want to get into that complexity or debate, so here, male and female will refer to whether we’re biologically men or women, and Masculine and Feminine will refer to traits and behaviors historically associated with men and women, but in fact available to us all. This bears repeating:
Male & Female are biological identities.
Masculine & Feminine are psychological qualities available to all.
Since cultural conditioning guides men toward Masculine behaviors and women toward Feminine behaviors, the psychological can appear to be as fixed as the biological, but this is more coincidence than cause-and-effect. While it does appear men tend more toward the Masculine and women more toward the Feminine (even the sons of the most active Feminists generally prefer trucks to dolls), it’s silly and erroneous to extrapolate this to mean we are single-dimensioned. We all have a huge range of both Feminine and Masculine potentials, and the greatest part of our maturing is to discover and claim our full selves.
As an American born in 1938, every form of culture I’ve participated in has suffered from excessive patriarchy, and so have all those who shared those cultures with me, women and men alike. It took me a long time to detect the imbalance around me because, being male, I’d bought into the cultural brainwashing that patriarchy was good for my gender. That was as ridiculous as believing Shane, The Lone Ranger or any of the other isolated male heroes of my childhood actually lived lives a human being would enjoy. Of course, the women of my era were just as trapped. Imagine trying to live up to Doris Day, the eternal virgin, or June Cleaver, the perfect house wife, when your hormones are raging (in real life, Doris was married four times). I’ve been coming out from under those layers of conditioning for over 60 years, and I’m not done yet. But I’m sure having more fun than when I was taking them seriously, and I’m much more balanced for those around me in the world. Just ask my kids.
I think about my kids and grandkids a lot. Including in-laws and significant others, they add up to about a baker’s dozen, and, while attitudes are evolving and there are more balanced role models for all, we still have a long way to go. Donald Trump and Kanye are not an improvement on John Wayne, and the eternal whore is no better than the eternal virgin as a model of wholeness for my daughters and granddaughters. I hope that understandings like this will make it easier for them to claim all of themselves sooner than I did. It’s the best legacy I can think of to leave them.
What Does a Feminine/Masculine “Balance” Mean?
Most people have this question at first. I did. “Balance” can mean equal weight on both sides of a scale, and it can also mean being in a stable state or equilibrium. I’m using it to mean the personal equilibrium we can establish between our Feminine and Masculine qualities at a particular moment in time. There’s no suggestion that any balance is better than any other and no implication that any balance is fixed or permanent. Only you can know what your balance is at any time and whether it’s one that will work well for you in your situation.
What do I “strive for” in my personal F/M balance? Like pretty much everything else, I want the balance I develop to help me be true to myself and effective in the world, to help me be both authentic and successful. This means taking a number of things into account – my own nature, where I am in my life, the work I choose, the leadership roles I take on, the relationships important to me and what I value spiritually. This is intensely personal and uniquely individual work, and no one can know better than you what’s right for you. What we can do is help each other see ourselves and our options more clearly so we can make the best choices possible.
What’s Your Current F/M Balance?
The best way to understand anything is to experience it personally. You can try a simple exercise that can help us think about the differences between our Feminine and Masculine aspects. If you’d like to have a printed copy to work with, click here…
Our F/M Balances Are Fluid, Situational & Adjustable
I’m naturally a “1” in “Listens” and a “5” in “Speaks.” In other words, I love to talk and find it difficult to attend others for very much of the time. I have honored such a nature (as many teachers and consultants do) by choosing a career that valued my speaking the greater part of the time. To make sure my students and clients got enough air time, I’d have them discuss in pairs and small groups. This seemed to work well for all of us.
But if I maintained my “Listens 1–Speaks 5” balance in all situations, I learned (painfully) I’d probably also have to forego on-going, intimate relationships. Experience has taught me such continuing intimacy requires a minimum of “Listens 2–Speaks 4,” at least in the context of the relationships. There were periods in my life where I enjoyed being on my own, and there were other times when I wanted connection. For the last fifteen years I’ve grown consistently more and more toward connection, and, with that growth, have worked at, and become, more of a listener and less of a speaker in my family relationships. But not that much has changed in the larger world; I’m still pretty much “Listens 1–Speaks 5” in that ball park, and I make that work by enjoying a lot of solitude, writing and a doing a little teaching and consulting. This works fine with me, and, it seems, with the world.
It’s our overall F/M balance that needs to fit us, not the balance we have in any particular situation. I doubt I’ll ever do better overall than “Listens 2–Speaks 4,” but, if I make sure I get enough “1-5” between my solitude, writing and teaching, then I can do some genuine “3-3” with my family. So don’t think you have to change yourself. That’s very hard work. Instead, know yourself and then manage your situations so you honor yourself and get what you want in the world.
It’s time for a story. Why a story? Because a major element of “excessive patriarchy” is over-reliance on the Masculine preference for rational thinking. I think we all suffer from this affliction (if you’re reacting incredulously at this point, you’ve probably got that imbalance, too), and, if so, you can find it hard to believe intuition, a Feminine preference, is as necessary as reason. It might help to know Einstein thought intuition might be even more important:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant
and has forgotten the gift.”
When one of our greatest intellects says we’re over-balanced toward the rational, we probably are. Relying only on our rational, Masculine minds to investigate this problem is like relying only on the Attorney General to investigate the President who appointed him. If we truly want to know what’s going on, we’ll have to experience “excessive patriarchy” through our Feminine (just as if the problem were “excessive matriarchy,” we’d have to experience through our Masculine). But we don’t gain real experience by only reading precise, linear definitions. If we did, we’d have no need for all that wonderful physical, emotional and spiritual equipment we’ve been so extravagantly outfitted with. Still, words can be used to bring experience alive physically, emotionally and spiritually through storytelling — a creative rather than rational exercise. This happens when we share our stories…
“Since we first gathered around in fire circles to keep the night at bay we have told stories. Stories that celebrated the conquests of the day sometimes became tales of heroes of the tribe. Stories, long before writing was invented, were the tribal memory; told repeatedly around the fire, they bore the tribal wisdom from one generation to the next.
“Stories about animals, things, heroes, and gods explained the world in ways that made it more predictable and safer. Stories imbued the world with magic, giving people hope where circumstances seemed to say there was none. Stories held out the possibility that deeds would be remembered, the prospect of immortality.
“But perhaps the most important use of stories was for teaching generations of leaders their responsibilities and in providing a guide that they could use to see past momentary threats to the tribe. At times when wise leadership meant the difference between life and death, between survival and extinction, stories offered insight. Often, the meaning was not to be had on the surface of the story, but lay in its symbols, which are the language of the human unconscious…”
— David Swords, New Orleans, 1993
I hope these stories may resonate in your experience as they do in mine. As we live these stories together, it’s possible to find connections to our own experience, connections that will make us all more effective – and joyous – in our leadership and our search for F/M balance.
“Goddammit, Donna, This Could Go on Forever!”
This is a story that started out being about women and men and ended up being about Feminine and Masculine. My wife, Donna, and I were reading two books together at the time. One was Deborah Tannen’s Please Understand Me which was about how men and women use communication differently. She was suggesting that men use communication primarily to get stuff done and women use it primarily for relationship. To illustrate the difference, she told about an interchange between a husband-and-wife driving home after party. The wife asked, “Do you want to stop for a drink?” the husband, taking this as a task and the task being a request for information answered, “No.” As many men would, he felt good. Task encountered, task completed. On the other hand, the wife found this interchange very unsatisfactory. Her question had not been a simple request for information; it had been the beginning of engagement about what they would do together next. For her it had been an overture to engagement that had been abruptly dismissed.
Donna and I recognized ourselves in this story, and the recognition helped us. We had consistent experience of missing, and irritating, each other on this dimension of task versus relationship. Tannen’s book gave us a way to talk about it, and I was now able to regularly ask, “Have I related enough today?” Usually Donna’s answer was still, “No,” but having our difference out in the open helped us both make some small adjustments and our life a whole lot better.
Another book we spent time with was Harville Hendrix’ Getting the Love You Want. (I find the title awful, but it contains a lot of useful exercises for couples to do together.) We were at the part where it was time to practice Reflective Listening. This is where one person tells the other something important to him or her, and the other listens both to the words and the feeling and then reflects both back so the other can see what’s been communicated. It’s a simple practice, and I’d taught it for years.
On this particular afternoon, we pulled into lovely Alabama State Park, built a campfire and opened a bottle of champagne. Life didn’t get much better than this – “No place to go, no thing to do…” We decided to do some Reflective Listening with Donna starting as the speaker and me as the listener. She took a few minutes to tell me something important or her, and I listened carefully. (When listening is a task, I can do it very well.) Then I reflected what she’d said back in both content and tone, and I knew I had captured it perfectly. I’m waiting for her to nod and say, “Really well done, Bill” and it’s now my turn to speak.
This is not what happens. She starts talking again, elaborating even more on what she’s just said. “Okay,” I think, “I can do this.” I listen carefully again, reflect it back in both content and tone and wait for the nod. She starts talking again! I listen and reflect again. No nod, no “Good job” – she starts talking again! This is when I jumped up, pounded the table and said, “Godammit, Donna, this could go on forever!”
And in that instant I saw myself and how unbalanced toward the Masculine I’d become. Here I was in a lovely setting with my best friend with nothing to do but enjoy being together – and what had I done but define our relating as a task to get over with! It was so absurd that we both burst out laughing! We’ve told this story at least a hundred times over the last fifteen years, and it’s become part of our relationship. About her starting to talk again over and over, Donna says, “Well, it just felt so good to be listened to that I kept finding more and more to say.” She still does this, and while I don’t sustain my attention nearly as long as her most intimate friends do, I appreciate greatly how important this ability is. On the “Listens” dimension I’ve moved from a “1” to a “2” and have aspirations of perhaps making it to ”2.5” or maybe even a “3” before my time here is up. If someone as unbalanced as I can do this, there’s hope for all of us.
Excessive Patriarchy Stunts the Feminine in Both Women and Men
Leadership is not over-balanced toward the Masculine because it’s primarily Masculine in nature; it’s distorted in that direction because many of us were raised in families, schools, businesses, churches and nations that all were unbalanced toward “excessive patriarchy.” And it’s not just men who are inhibited in the use of their Feminine; many women are just as blocked. Consider this story from Bill Sadler’s The Third Age, an eighteen year research project that documents the lives of three dozen people who made extraordinary successful transformations from their Second Age (20-45) into their Third age (45-80). This is the story of a surgeon named Barbara as she reflected on her life at fifty-four; I think it may be similar to Hillary’s, too…
Barbara was very autonomous as a young adult and went through several transformations before she uncovered a fuller femininity after turning fifty…
“I’m changing and continually discovering things in my self that amaze me. One major thing I’ve discovered as a woman is a kind of balance of feminine and masculine elements within myself in a way I never knew possible. My journey has been to go to the edge, and as I do I find amazing dimensions to myself.”
After years of medical practice, she had begun to feel burned-out, angry, bitter, and even resentful. Her career had been outwardly successful but increasingly dissatisfying:
”I felt terribly trapped in medical practice and couldn’t see any way out. Clients were demanding more and more, and then they would turn on you. I would put in horrendous hours and feel I was really caring for them, and they would file malpractice and say I was deliberately trying to hurt them. It felt so unjust, and it seemed like people were trying to own me.
“I entered medicine in part because I wanted to be totally independent. In medical school I was nearly a stereotype of a male: aggressive and very competitive. In those days you had to be like that to succeed as a doctor and as a single woman in a nearly all male society.”
While battling with mixed feelings, she discovered that she had a malignant melanoma. She believed that her body was sending her important message. Feeling betrayed, stuck, and filled with doubts about the course of her life, she sensed that the cancer was a self-destructive way of reacting to her situation. Surgery eliminated the cancer. Reassessing her life and changing her medical practice and lifestyle addressed possible contributing factors… She also uncovered and released a hidden part of our personality to achieve greater balance:
”A major development in my midlife has been to become aware of my feminine side. Recovering a balance—between control and caring, being intellectual and emotional—is one way of viewing how I got out of the trap. I become a much more feeling person. I’ve realized that feelings have a very important part in medicine. You start with knowledge, but in your interaction with patients you need compassion. An emotional level of interaction is perhaps most important in treatment. By discovering my feminine side and expressing it in medicine and with friends, I’ve been experiencing inner movement, an awareness of being feminine and vulnerable.”
Barbara revealed that by becoming a doctor, she had deliberately undergone an identity transformation, repressing feminine qualities and adding masculine ones:
”I used to be tougher than tough. I would never show emotions; I thought that would be a sign of weakness. Now I allow my emotions to show. The biggest risks for me are letting people see who I am. I wanted to be well thought-of and would act to please people. I still want to be well-thought-of, but I’m more concerned to express how I feel as openly as honestly as possible….”
In her fifties Barbara began reshaping her identity as a competent woman, creatively balancing qualities that she had once thought incompatible. Through her adaptation to a very stressful situation, perhaps the most difficult in her life, she became more inwardly complex. In defining a new self, she has changed her definition of success, reaffirmed the girl within, and above all enlarged and revised her feminine self-image. She has become more of a woman than she ever had been.
Barbara, a very successful woman in a male world inhibited her Feminine in order to succeed in that world. In her Third Age, she realized the need to open to and develop her Feminine in order to claim her wholeness.
The point of Barbara’s story is that “The Feminine” is not just for women, and “The Masculine” is not just for men. For most people, it’s initially difficult to keep the psychological qualities (Feminine and Masculine) separate from biological gender (female and male). I considered creating new words for the qualities that were less confusing, but only briefly. Feminine and Masculine are the words Carl Jung chose to describe these psychic constellations, and what’s good enough for Carl is good enough for me. (To help keep this separation clear, Feminine and Masculine are capitalized.)
Neither Our Feminine Nor Masculine Is Superior
Sometimes when I tell these stories, people think I’m saying Feminine qualities are superior to Masculine qualities. Nothing could be further from what I intend. Our Feminine and Masculine qualities are complements, not adversaries. Like our right and left hands, they are partners that work together to help us make the life we want.
Then why not focus on “excessive matriarchy” as well as “excessive patriarchy”?
“Excessive Patriarchy” Is Our Present Direction of Error (D>E)
We’re talking about a “Direction of Error” here, not right or wrong. Direction of Error (D>E) is a simple concept that’s served me well for the last thirty years. I found it in a conversation with one of my early mentors. He wore an expensive watch and was very proud of its accuracy.
“I check this every day against the Naval Observatory clock,” he said. “I’m exactly six seconds fast.”
“So why don’t you set it back six seconds?” I asked.
“You don’t have to be right on,” he said, “if you know which direction you’re off in and how far.”
This is how the notion of D>E came into my life. One of the great things it’s done is help me stop trying to be perfect (and right) all the time:
“…if you know which direction you’re off in and how far…”
To get the benefits of using D>E, you have to be willing to trade in righteousness for humility. Righteousness doesn’t want to accept being imperfect; it wants to notice how imperfect everyone else is and judge them for it. If you aren’t willing to see and laugh at your own absurdities, D>E won’t work for you. But let’s say your absurdities (like mine) are so blatant you’ve been tripping over them all your life, and some of the time you even think they’re funny (humor and humility go together). If so, you’re ready for D>E. Here’s how to use it:
CHOOSE A SPECIFIC DIMENSION TO FOCUS ON – It’s important to make D>E very specific in terms of both content and situation. (You don’t want to fall in the masochistic trap of having a global D>E like “Good/Bad”). For example, let’s take the Feminine/Masculine dimension of “Attends to Others/Attends to Self.”
Most of us look at this dimension and immediately know what our D>E is (whether we generally attend too much to others or overly focus on ourselves – think Fleetwood Mac’s “You Give Yourself Away” versus Sinatra’s “I did it my way”). But we need to be careful. Self-perception is not the most reliable of realities.
GET HONEST FEEDBACK FROM THOSE WHO KNOW YOU WELL – Be sure and test whatever conclusions you come to with intimate friends and family. An easy way to do this is to draw a diagram like this and put an X on it where you think your general D>E is…
Show your diagram to five or six people you trust and listen to what they say. You may simply get confirmation that affirms your self-perception, or you may get surprised. Either way you learn and understand yourself more fully. And the surprises can be pleasant, too, showing you’ve developed in ways you like more than you thought.
KNOWING YOUR D>E HELPS YOU COMPENSATE FOR YOURSELF – If your diagram looks like the one above, you probably “give yourself away” to others more than is good for you. This is my partner’s D>E (mine is the reverse – I could use more Feminine on this dimension). If she says she can’t find her car keys, I think, “Well, I surely don’t know where they are,” and go on about my business. If I say something about having lost my keys, she jumps up and helps to look for them. Knowing her D>E has made a noticeable difference. Even though her first response is still to jump up, she quickly catches herself and says something like, “Oh, right – they’re your keys, aren’t they? Let me know if you really need my help,” and then goes on about her business. Knowing your D>E on different dimensions makes relationships with others and yourself easier, more productive and a lot more fun.
But sometimes just knowing your D>E isn’t enough. If the imbalance is significantly inappropriate to your situation, it can become destructive, even deadly. In our time the “excessive patriarchy” D>E in our leadership is literally what’s killing us and our planet. For all our sakes, we each need to rebalance our Feminine and Masculine in ways appropriate to the high-tech, inter-dependent world we live in today.
Why It’s So Important to Create a New Balance for a New Time
I was one whose unconscious was imprinted with obsolete images of maleness. Born in 1938, my hero and primary model for manhood was John Wayne, and that archetype went unchallenged in me until the middle sixties. By 1970 other possibilities for being male (like Dustin Hoffman as Ben in “The Graduate”) had become so prevalent that Life Magazine’s July cover story focused on how the model for American maleness was shifting. But even with the help of a changing culture around me, it took another thirty years of psychological renovation to integrate my Feminine and Masculine qualities to support the person and leader I now want to be and the kind of life I now want to live. I don’t want this to take nearly so long for my children and grandchildren, and that’s the biggest reason for my passion about this subject.
There’s another reason that looms large as well. Our world can’t much longer survive the overbalance toward the Masculine “hunter-warrior” that was so valuable when physical survival was at stake every moment. We’ve created a world where we can feed everyone, where we can provide health care for everyone, where we can educate everyone, but only if we can learn to collaborate instead of continuing our obsolete habits of suspicion, competition and conflict. A major part of this evolution is for each of us to integrate our Feminine and Masculine in ways suitable for our time. Then we will bring the leadership we truly intend to our loved ones, our enterprises and our world.
©2011 William R. Idol
3. M.B.M LEADERSHIP: “REMEMBER 5-YEAR-OLDS COME IN ALL AGES”
This is a leadership story that happened in 1985. I’d been invited to Oslo, Norway, to present our “Visions & Systems” Leadership Program for a select group of European executives. These were world-class leaders who had enormous experience, intelligence and authority. They were used to leading, not being led. Even though I was a young punk in my forties back then, I knew enough not to start out the by speaking to them. Instead I had them open the program by each giving a talk to the group. The topic was: “What Is The Essence of Leadership?”
All the talks were good, but one stood out and I remember it to this day. Ingrid was a vice president for a major airline. She began by saying:
“For me, the essence of leadership is M.B.M.”
“M. B. M.,” I remember thinking, “what the hell is that?”
“M. B. M. stands for “Managing By Mothering,” she said, “because it was in raising my children I learned most of what has made me successful in my leadership, and I feel really sorry for the men around me who haven’t raised children because they’re at such a disadvantage. They make clumsy mistakes that make their leadership difficult in ways no experienced mother would dream of.”
As you might imagine, this raised a few male hackles around the room, including my own. But Ingrid went right on and within minutes had at least all of us who were fathers eating right out of her hand.
“For example,” she said, “if you’ve raised a four-year-old you know you never ask the question, ‘What do you want for dinner?‘ because the answer is likely to be ‘Ice cream and cake’ or some other nonsense you’re not about to do. What you say is, ‘Do you want a ham or tuna fish sandwich for dinner?’
“In other words, you give choice only among options you’re willing to live with. This is the essence of participatory leadership. For years I’ve watched the men around me ask, ‘What do you think we should do here?’ and then have to spend enormous energy dealing with inappropriate requests that should never have been on the table. Of course there are times when you want out-of-the-box, off-the-wall thinking, but not when the point is to get dinner made and out-of-the-way. When you want creativity, you structure productive brainstorming sessions; when you want day-to-day efficiency, you structure simple, quick to the and practical choices. Any mother knows this; not enough fathers do.”
I remember when I decided to get seven-year-old Matt a bicycle for his birthday. I took him up to Harry’s Discount Store where there must have been fifty bicycles on display. Of course, some were way too expensive, some were shoddily made and some were just plain inappropriate for the Vermont dirt roads where we lived. But, instead of doing my research and getting three or four pictures of bicycles I could support for him to choose from, I’d essentially said, “What do you want for a bicycle?” He answered by grabbing the most expensive racing bike with all the gears and gadgets. This began one of the major fiascoes of my fathering. Instead of what should have been a great father-son outing, Matt and I spent a very uncomfortable forty-five minutes of my manipulating him into a bike that he didn’t really want. We then had an uncomfortable forty-five minute ride back from Montpelier to our little town and another uncomfortable time when he unenthusiastically showed his new bike to his sister and mom. After that I was gone traveling a lot and forgot about the bike. Months later I learned that “something on it was broken” and Matt had never ridden it – and he didn’t want me to know. What a mess I’d made! I meant to do something with and for my son that would bring us closer, but instead spent time and money to get exactly the opposite result!
I’m pretty sure this is what Ingrid meant by us men being clumsy and making our leadership difficult. What’s hardest for me to admit about this clumsiness is that it occurred four years after Ingrid gave her talk in Oslo. Being given the concept is no substitute for having the experience.
But this was not Ingrid’s most powerful lesson for me. She went on to give another example of how not to do things with people, young or old:
“The most frequent and costly error I see the men around me make,” she said, “is that they resist energy instead of guiding it. If you’ve ever dealt consistently with a two-year-old, you know you only resist their energy as an absolute last resort. If the child is doing something you don’t want, you don’t tell him to stop – you just give him something more interesting to do. With two-year-olds, if you make them stop you get tantrums.”
I knew what Ingrid was talking about before she finished this example. Matt had just turned three in the 1985, and I’d created more tantrums in the previous twelve months than I could count. For whatever reasons, I, like a lot of men, react very poorly to having our authority challenged. When Matt was doing something I didn’t like, I would tell him to stop. He would keep doing it. I’d tell him to stop again, adding a threat of banishment to his room. He’d keep on doing. In no time I’d have escalated us to nuclear confrontation, picked him up by his little arms, carried him to his room, plopped him solidly on his bed and said, “And you’ll stay here until you learn to do as you’re told.” The result of my actions in these cases was to make us both unhappy and negatively charge the entire atmosphere of our home. Not what I’d call inspired leadership by a long shot.
As Ingrid spoke, I remembered how differently Matt’s mom, Nancy, handled these same situations. When Matt was doing something she didn’t like, she would pick up some interesting object and say, “Oh, Matt look at that this! Isn’t this amazing? Look how it…” and Matt would come over to her, get fascinated with this new possibility and the difficulty would be resolved with no escalation or crisis at all. It wasn’t until I heard Ingrid tell this story that I understood how off-base I’d been. I always thought Nancy was “weak” because she let her authority be challenged (and God knows what that might mean later when he became a teenager!). Now, instead of thinking Nancy was a weak and I was strong, I understood Nancy was smart and I was stupid.
For almost twenty years now I’ve told this story to remind myself that guiding energy works so much better than resisting it, and I still too often confront rather than collaborate. Again, having the concept doesn’t make up for missing the experience. I often wonder if those men now lucky enough to be raising their children are developing leadership capacities that are second nature to most mothers.
The best part of Ingrid’s talk was her closing line:
“If you’ve been a mother, you already have the essence of great leadership within you. All you have to do is remember that five-year-olds come in all ages.”
I knew she was right in 1985, and I know she’s still right in 2004. There are many times each day when one of my “hot buttons” gets pushed, and I am at best five years old. After 65 years of watching people closely, I know this is true for all of us. The major difference between Ingrid and I (and maybe many women and men) is that she sees these regressions as obvious and normal whereas I still think of them as inexcusable personal failures in both myself and others. How much better my life and leadership would be if I could respond to the adult five-year-olds in my life as a loving mother responds to a child in distress!
©2011 William R. Idol
4. WOMEN ARE MORE COLLABORATIVE, INCLUSIVE LEADERS
BY JANET GUYON, QUARTZ.COM, JULY 30, 2012
If Hillary Clinton, now officially the Democratic candidate, wins election in November, she’ll make history, and not just as America’s first female president. It would mean that for the first time ever, three of the world’s most powerful democracies would be led by women: the US, the UK, and Germany.
What might that mean? Management experts studying leadership say women are more collaborative, more inclusive leaders. They build teams; in Clinton’s words, they understand it “takes a village” to run a country, and the world. They do not believe, as Donald Trump does (and not just him: many men do), that they “alone can fix it.”
The US, UK, and Germany all face the big challenges of the rich world today: immigration, terrorism at home and abroad, and a revolt against the one percent. It’s easy to imagine Clinton sitting down with Britain’s Theresa May and Germany’s Angela Merkel to hash out solutions to shared problems.
It’s also easy to see this troika of women developing a cohesive approach towards Russia, Iran, China, Syria, and other countries whose interests often run counter to those of the West. A Trump in that mix? He and his associates look uncomfortably cozy with Russia, and a Trump-Putin axis would be a lot more dangerous for the world than a Clinton-Merkel-May one.
Gender should not be the deciding factor in electing someone to the world’s most powerful office. But the female leadership style Clinton espouses seems more attuned to the needs of the world now. One thing’s for sure: She’s unlikely to brag about the size of her hands, or anything else.
5. THIS MONTH’S LINKS:
MICHELLE OBAMA’S CONVENTION SPEECH
THE CASE FOR MORE FEMALE COPS
WOMEN ARE MORE COLLABORATIVE, INCLUSIVE LEADERS
THE MYTH OF THE SELF-RELIANT INDIVIDUAL NEEDS UPDATING
SEVEN MINUTES THAT SHOOK THE CONVENTION…
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