“If Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters we probably wouldn’t have had our financial meltdown.” – Betty Spence, National Association of Female Executives
“There is no either / or between being competitive and collaborative. You have to be both and decide which in each situation.” – Cathie Black, Former Chairman and President, Hearst Magazine
In the past much research focused on distinctions between men and women’s thinking. In the theory of right and left brain dominance, being “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical and objective, traits more closely associated with males. Being “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective, traits associated more closely with females. Today’s research suggests that combining the use of both styles actually produces better results (American Psychological Association).
Similarly, in examining how men and women lead, there is a growing shift in thinking that the most innovative leaders embrace feminine linked characteristics of empathy, collaboration, flexibility, expressiveness and intuition as well as masculine linked traits of independence, resilience and decisiveness. It appears that it is a balance of intuitive and analytical, i.e. female and male traits that make the world a better place (The Athena Doctrine).
The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future (Gerzma and D’Antonio), profiles, Athena, the Greek warrior goddess, who symbolizes wisdom, industry, justice and skill. John Gerzma, the co-author and keynote speaker during the Greater Women’s Business Council’s August conference, discussed how feminine values drive broad business benefits and create lasting mutually beneficial relationships with customers and communities. He suggested that successful businesses foster environments for cooperation, communication, nurturing and inclusiveness while assuring tough decisions are made and people are accountable for results. Using numerous examples, he showcased how these innovative companies created a competitive advantage and sustainability in both economic and social growth.
The book posits that the “Athena” business environment is created by leaders who are agile, can manage complexity and see the world differently through the eyes of clients, coworkers and the community. The Athena Doctrine, like Innolect, encourages leaders to enhance these skills and to build creative, high integrity workplaces. To achieve this healthy, innovative climate, leaders need to:
- Listen, communicate, collaborate and adapt.
- Promote a positive culture where purpose and profits co-exist.
- Practice inclusive decision-making.
- Nurture relationships.
How are you and your team doing at embracing these behaviors?
If you want to learn more about how to access your inner Athena, contact Kittie Watson and we’ll explore how to increase your leadership effectiveness.