The price we pay for success
The game of business has a dominant masculine essence and by that I mean it is founded on the law of scarcity, driven by highly competitive pressures and its very being is about the maximisation of profit. All of which are masculine elements.
In order to succeed in such a context we are driven to maximise our output and to get results. This in turn gives rise to a breeding ground of competition, fear, control, ego, power and acts of will. For the most part this constant striving and pressure we place ourselves under is not natural. It is not balanced. It requires large doses of adrenalin.
According to leading medical expert, Dr James Wilson, adrenal fatigue is produced when your adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress. And anyone can be susceptible if you face constant stress.
It is my contention that the demands of our highly competitive business environment require men and women alike to adopt the masculine energy necessary to compete and win. If we play the typical dog eat dog, combative game then we fuel our bodies with testosterone. And, according to Dr John Gray, the implications of high levels of testosterone are markedly different for women than they are for men. Whether it is hormone imbalance or adrenal imbalance, these conditions are an unhealthy state for our bodies. We may place ourselves at risk of mental, physical and emotional illness.
Whatever personal approach you adopt as a business leader it must include a mix of masculine and feminine energy. It begs the question, “To what degree are you balanced or imbalanced?”
So, that is the lay of the land. That is the game you enrol in when you sign up to play business. It is not the only way, but it is the typical way.
Dr Gray goes on to explain that a man gains energy with a healthy dose of testosterone coursing through his system whereas a woman with surplus testosterone may feel energy depleted. Dr Gray further suggests that women find stress relief through oxytocin, which is fuelled by nurturing activities like giving, sharing, collaborating, being of service and communal living. If you take the analogy further it is akin to “the journey rather than the destination.”
The demands of a high stress job are rather unforgiving: Get the job done no matter how you do it. Most of the leadership training I have come across offers behavioural profiling, indicators of organisational culture, leadership style guides and bases of leadership effectiveness. As helpful as these are, when push comes to shove, if you get the results then most sins are forgiven.
What are the alternatives?
I suggest you have to start by acknowledging the starting assumptions of the game. If the strategic driver of your business and all of its success strategies are based on profit maximisation (for shareholders) then state it, accept it and own it. If that is not the game you want to play then opt out.
There are three basic scenarios:
1. Play the old masculine game, the old masculine way
2. Play the old masculine game, the new feminine way
3. Play the new feminine game, the new feminine way.
What I suggest is not an “either/ or” scenario but a more balanced way. When I wrote my piece titled “The Rise of the Feminine” it was not about the rise of women into positions of power and authority as a means of restoring gender imbalance but rather to evoke a more heart centric, balanced sustainable model of business for all stakeholders. How you go about your business is the work itself.
Dennis Roberts helps small business owner/operators start, run and grow their business from conception to exit. He is available for strategic advice, business planning, one-on-one coaching/mentoring, advisory board, interim management and facilitation. Visit www.DennisRoberts.com.au.