A gender perspective in leadership
Balance between female and male polarities: The path of integration for completeness
We live in a world where intertwining dualities are at the foundation of our reality. There is day and night, growth and death, warmth and cold, highs and lows. One polarity needs the other to exist, for both are part of the same continuum. This ancient knowledge can be found as early as in Taoism, Buddhist Zen, or Chinese Medicine, to name but a few. This thought applies to the existence of all things in the universe, for all are underpinned by opposite and yet complementary forces.
Human beings are also formed out of duality, with a feminine and a masculine nature coexist within each one of us. The feminine and masculine sides have their own qualities and their own manifestations in the world. This goes beyond our biological gender, whether we have been born as men or women, and refers to the inner dance of both natures in each one of us that drives us to completeness.
We need to combine both polarities to gain an authentic completion as human beings, and this also applies to men and women in leadership positions. This perspective is far from a battle between the genders, for such a battle would be a misunderstanding of the wisdom of life itself, where both polarities exist and need the existence of their opposite to find completeness.
The female polarity is a force that nurtures. It is deeply consecrated to the senses and guides through intuition. The masculine polarity its rooted in security and the capacity to act, to direct towards our objectives and life goals.
Feminine attributes are more focussed on being, flowing with the circumstances, intuition, caring for others, unifying, being inclusive, receptive, inner focused, connected with the senses, emphatic, and creative.
Masculine attributes are more focussed on doing, seeing a clear structure, forming clear objectives, being able to initiate, searching for individuality, acting logically, focussing on the outside world, more rational, active, and concrete in actions.
To develop our emotional intelligence as leaders, we need both attributes to become integrated into our lives so that we can fulfil our potential and guide others.
Apart from our external appearance, we have feminine and masculine aspects within us. Nowadays, the gender concept is much larger then years ago, and the wider range of possibilities to define who we are as our society is changing and opening up to diversity. Some women can have more masculine than feminine qualities and vice versa, there are many different examples today of this diversity. The importance in our perspective will strive in finding the inner balance, in giving space for both qualities to coexist in a harmonious way that will be unique for each person and for each moment or situation.
When these two forces are in balance, life can be harmonious, intense, and active. Life is a cooperation between these two natures. This cooperation must happen first within ourselves. A dance will appear in the flow of one into the other, depending on the requirements of any given moment. On the other hand, preferring one aspect at the expense of the other will lead to an imbalance and internal conflict. This is why developing our emotional intelligence will help us to become aware of and to learn how to explore this inner balance so that we can use it in our leadership position to guide those around us.
If we do not develop the opposite polarity we will always be searching for this balance, whether in our outside world or in others. By doing so we miss the opportunity to find it in ourselves and remain incomplete, dependent on external factors.
It is important to understand that we are not talking about a comparison between men and women, instead we are looking for an internal communication and cooperation between the masculine and the feminine aspects inside each of us.
As women, our energetic foundation it’s feminine, and masculine qualities can support and serve this femininity. If we have developed our masculine qualities with determination we will be able to live an independent life, to value our projects and objectives, and to be able to take decisive action.
The masculine in us is a driving force, oriented and precise, a force that pushes us forward to organisation, completion, structure. The masculine as an internal dynamic that gives women the possibility of opening up and trusting, because it gives us security in ourselves and allows us to set limits. It gives us a sense of authority over our lives. The more a woman develops her masculinity in service of her femininity, the more secure she feels to explore her femininity. Therefore, if we develop and find the balance between the feminine and masculine polarity, we will live in fulfilment with ourselves.
How can a woman develop her masculine polarity?
If we do not develop these masculine skills as women, we can begin to develop an attitude of helplessness, bitterness, sadness, internal apathy and abandonment. We then seek that authority outside ourselves because we need someone or something to guide us, value us, tell us what is good as we are not being able to find it with in, and we have difficulties materialising our ideas and desires. The development of emotional intelligence will help us to integrate these aspects in our lives, combining receptiveness and action in our personal and professional development.
But when it is the masculine polarity that is expressed in excess within women, we disconnect from our femininity, we lose the connection with water and land, with life and its cycles of regeneration. We lose fluidity, lightness, the body becomes tense and we are overcome by tiredness. The mental activity of “doing” takes too much prominence and the instincts are silenced. And if our polarity acts energetically as masculine (substituting our female support), we will become too demanding, disregarding our rhythms and finding ourselves trapped in an internal tyranny.
In this intense journey of searching for ourselves, of gaining a worthy place in our culture and society, it is possible that many women have left the feminine behind and have developed more masculine qualities that are important and necessary for success in the business world. Putting the masculine at the service of the feminine is a challenge and a “work of art” that we should carry out to become integrated as women leaders.
The feminine means having an openness towards life, a communication that we call love, care, tender and compassionate attention. It means feeling and allowing the body to experience the force of life and all its registers: fluid, changing, soft, intense, wild, radiant. It is a force that nourishes and vivifies, that connects us with the senses, with the joy of life that flows from one thing to another, that attracts, relaxes, magnetises, opens. It is a source of inspiration and wisdom to which we need to open ourselves to, and it is in contemplation and deep silence that we can find it.
This can confuse women who have developed a lot of their masculine side, always running from one place to another, always busy on doing and missing in the way their femininity.
How can a man to develop his feminine polarity?
Intuitive knowledge, deep feelings, openness, fluidity, flexibility, relaxation. This gives men the gift of putting their masculine qualities at the service of life, of performing their actions whilst taking others into account.
The feminine polarity in a man will give him an open joy, playfulness, vitality and ability to enjoy life. He can let his mental aspect rest and cultivate the more sensitive parts within him. On the other hand, the development of his inner feminine qualities will give men the authentic understanding of what emotional commitment and surrender means, without losing their freedom.
This will also change the style of leadership that has been increasingly dominant in recent decades or even centuries, including emotions as a strength that human beings have to connect with each other and which enables them to understand others as part of themselves.
This is a dynamic game of polarities, in which masculine and feminine qualities are connected. If a woman unfolds masculine abilities without a link with her feminine part – or if a man develops to few feminine qualities – they will both be disconnected from their true nature and fail to meet their potential.
What do we achieve by having a balance between feminine and masculine polarity?
When men and women harmoniously develop the internal polarities, our emotional body no longer depends on the other person. Recognising and taking care of both of them implies a fundamental change in relationships with others, this includes our relationships at work: we step from lacking to offering.
Women and men evolve towards completeness. In recent years we have made great strides in that direction: men have developed feminine qualities and women masculine qualities. But we have not always taken into account the importance of consciously maintaining the energy we need to support of each one of us and setting a clear direction for our lives. It is perhaps for this reason that we have not assigned the necessary importance to the balance between the feminine and masculine polarities that we all have.
If we look closely at our society, culture, business world, or at the relationships between people, we will soon realise that our value systems have been developed with predominantly masculine qualities. But all systems, including those of power – which are nothing other than the ability to act creatively – need a balance. The qualities offered by the feminine are missing, the parts that place us in the care of life and nature. And if we keep going in this direction we are going against life, which means that we are going against ourselves.
So we need to ask ourselves this central question: Who am I serving? If the answer is not life, we are going in a direction against nature and our own internal nature. This can only be a dead end. As leaders, this understanding is vital and goes beyond our work in any organisation. It’s the awareness of taking full responsibility of our place in this world, recognising the need to become a reference point that provides a balance to sustain and foster the development of life throughout our planet and humanity.
- Ritxar Bacete (2017). Nuevos hombres buenos, la masculinidad en la era del feminismo. Ed. Atalaya.
- Rose M. Muraro (2004) Femenino y masculino. Una nueva conciencia para el encuentro de las diferencias. Ed. Trotta.
- Carl G. Jung, “Collected Works” vol. 9,1, P. 22.
- Alfonso colodron (2014). Guía para hombres en marcha. Ed.Tirant lo Blanch.
- Web Carmen Enguita: https://www.carmenenguita.com/
Laura Lopez Gámez
I am a psychologist with great experience as trainer in Humanistic approaches; on Body movement and Corporal Expression (Río Abierto), Vital Readjustment facilitator, MBSR in Mindfulness and Gestalt therapy. I work mainly in the areas of Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership with holistic practices that bring self-alignment.