The tango of life

The strong and the gentle come together!

Last night I watched a fabulous “Tango Fire” show at the Peacock Theatre; the magic of dance wove its story, the story of life, of relationships, of steamy passion and purposeful intention, an all-embracing joy in performance. I reflected on how this dance is a story for transformation of men and women in our world today.

Five magnificent strong male dancers moved as if as fluid as a fast flowing river – yet as strong as any man can be. They kept us transfixed as they literally held their female partners close, wound around their bodies, lifted above their heads and seamlessly flowing and interlinked in sharp moves merged with gentle lines and continuous flow.

The five beautiful women were as sensuously female as possibly they could be, clothed in body hugging costumes and colours that accentuated their feminine without any salacious intent; they became an integral part of their partners strong fluidity while providing a soft flow of expression and language beyond words, a strength in line that made you gasp with delight; a complement in all ways to their partners and the music and message of their origins.

This natural weave of strong and gentle, of direction and fluidity, stands as a perfect example of the natural roles men and women play together. It also explores the nature of masculinity that flows, and femininity that has power.

In our current world, how often do we see a fight between the masculine and the feminine, between man and woman, over and over? We hear of increases in marriages and family partnership breaking down, of battles that destroy communities, and at the core of this we have not fully understood the needs of each gender, the pull of each generation’s men and women as they view parenting and reproduction in different ways There is an uncomfortable history of male domination in business, in politics and in the evolution of the structures and rules that control our lives and into which women have often subjugated their female attributes in order to compete in a man’s world.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not male bashing! In deed the opposite, I believe it is the complement of male and female, of masculine and feminine in all the performers, male and female, that we need to expose, explore, and expedite into our current challenges so that we can truly build a blueprint that honours the gifts and talents natural to our different species. The world is a partnership of male and female, of masculine and feminine, of strong and gentle entwined.

The full story of Argentina Tango has played a social transformational role in society not just in South America, but in its impact as it swept across the world in the 1900s, allowing people to get closer in dance, to express themselves and the societal changes experienced, through rock and roll, hippy times, modern ballroom and expressive dance formats have brought people together. Dancing intimately, men with women, men with men, women with women, in the spirit of the dance, we see the communication of our natural evolution, our relationships, our potential joy and our passion to perform together, to flow with strength for a successful performance.

Can we apply all of this to the partnerships of life at home, at play, in the workplace; with families, with teams, with social cohesion?

If this union of masculine and feminine, in both genders, can be expressed so seamlessly in dance, I believe it can be experienced in the performance of men and women in society, in business, in politics. Why not? If we truly want to grow a healthy wealthy society for all, I believe we need to build a more collaborative model for a socially responsible and resourceful community.

Dance like I watched last night, cannot occur without tuning into each other, without communication, without practice, without love.

In taking simultaneous responsibility for our uniqueness as men and women as well as our core value as human beings, in a well tuned partnership, we can create a new possibility for a healthy world for all, our children and our grandchildren.

Advertisements

Compassion as a business necessity

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. -The Dalai Lama

I was really struck by this quote and started to muse on why people in business are still not valuing their natural ability be ‘compassionate’ for each other in the workplace. Is it because it is deemed too emotional in its purest form to add value in monetary terms and therefore can’t be added to the ledger?

Yet compassion for me is the most valuable measure of business when seen in good leadership, a trusting workforce culture, and healthy retention of clients and customers. It is a natural way forward to preserve good health and vitality of our employees – and is core energy for getting on with everyone. I am talking here of a true compassion, as the Dalai Lama talks of, which embraces daily love, supports fairness, trust, respect and care for every man and woman.

Yet I am often told, you can’t talk like this in business, you have to talk about hard tangible benefits. Tough times need tough measures.

I disagree. This is exactly the time to turn around your life and your business, right from top to bottom, with love and compassion. Own it, be it, see the results. CEOs and top Boards are now seeing the growth of a strong female economy, changing requirements of women and men to be on par, accepted on their natural merits, each doing what they do best – together with compassion and not judgment.

How do you cope with adversity and chaos in today’s tricky economic climate? People too often blame others when the key to unlock is within. In hard measurable terms, if we don’t unlock this key, then we suffer, relationships suffer and business success goes out of the window.

I believe in our natural endless capacity to love and feel compassion for each other and that as a human race we have the ability and the desire to seek new ways and create a buoyant, abundant, collaborative world were all count, all add their own unique value, everyone counts. I know in my deepest essence that I am part of a whole existence that covers not just this day, but all the past and future that is. I share the responsibility for our world and see the natural energy of co-creation with us.

Working with men and women in diverse arenas, generations and situations, I see men and women holding the two halves of a whole solution, yet not creating a new blueprint together. Is it that, stuck as we are in an old pattern that does not serve us any more, we stubbornly refuse to believe that there is another way – the men stay tough and resistant to change, focused on targets, survival, power and profit; the women too often opt out of their feminine softness and take on the mantle of business the tough way. Neither side needs to stay fixed and rooted in either. I am encouraged by the ground swell of women today wanting to be in business and the news that the ‘female economy’ is being noticed by men when it comes to wealth managers and the growing wealth of women across the world. However we still haven’t got to grips with the bigger conversation that can embrace all women, their needs, all men and their needs, and most importantly the needs of a fragile changing world. Economies are constrained by overspend and cutbacks and we are told that we’re in for a period of austerity in the tabloid press. Women can make a difference to the future by stretching the new playing field into the natural domain of female needs rather than playing hard ball in a man’s world.

I believe there is a new magic we can bring to our collective conversations which honours our core strengths as men and women and allows for new energy of female growth to come into business as a whole. If we only calculate success of women by their wealth capability, we may ignore the contributions of those women who excel in other non-profit ways. We can ensure a more balanced ownership of true wealth to emerge easily when we add compassion to business and seek equity and fairness within every conversation. I know this will increase the profitline of the whole business and ensure everyone has a healthy life. Healthy, wealthy and wise may be a simple combination worth remembering.

My contribution is to teach people to step in the space they need to deliver their best. I help them to value their inner wisdom, and to be able to join every conversation with compassion.

I host “Magical Conversations” with invited groups of senior men and women to explore how to step into that natural space and be themselves, truly happy, to add loving energy to human business. My own life purpose is to bring harmony, collaboration and serious intention to merge life and business together, and to establish a simpler, more effective way to connect to likeminded people for greater success. I set up these conversations up to set a new pace for life for me and for my clients; a pace to think with my heart and to embrace a new truth about how I/we can co-create a wonderful new business plan for living and work merged together.

As in many mergers, we need to be aware of people’s needs, of bringing together differing cultures together. In the merger of men and women we still haven’t fully understood the natural value of our differences and how beneficial we are to each other. We need to explore how to dissolve all the confusion which goes with old thinking rather than new feelings and demystify the ‘gender code’ about stereotypes, barriers, egos and pre-conceptions. Let’s begin again with the best of the past and an open consideration for the future, and build a new blueprint for business that embraces life and measures love on the bottom line!

Transformed with compassion, the merger of men and women will grow a new culture of energy, loving intentions for growth and profit …and, most important to me, a era of positive loving business behaviour!

Gender Dynamics – It’s in your bones!

Your gender DNA is in your bone structure

For twenty years I’ve been studying bodies! This may sound strange but I started as an Image Consultant in 1989 and had been a dress maker all my life. I was fascinated as to how my own body defined my behavior as a woman and also how my brain challenged my traditional view of femaleness differently to other women. I had always been a tom boy and observed many times that I was not like many female friends who just seemed more tuned into ‘femininity’!!

I was relieved when I realised I was not alone and many clients who came to me in those early days from 1989 onwards would stand before me in range of angular to curved bone structures; some had a masculine mind set and others a feminine mind set! There was a pattern to be observed, a natural relationship between the bone structure and scale of the body and I observed how that created ways of being more ‘boyish’ or more ‘girlie’, some more alpha female or others femme fatale!! Yet all were women and at heart, sisters, in our natural nurturing ways. I was fascinated. The more angular the woman, the more likely she was to have a masculine logical brain. How much did my own body and mind define me and became part of why I grew into a business woman? Let’s explore more.

I continued my observations with male clients too, there the patterns continued. More alpha males were strong and square shouldered, while I observed the gentler male shape represented men who were quite literally gentle in shape, gentle in nature. This definition was not to do with sexuality but with type within each biological gender – these ‘more feminine minded’ men were heterosexual yet with an emotional intuitive core that was a very different type of man to the alpha ‘he-man’. Fascinated as ever, I knew then that there was a relationship between physicality, personality and behaviour at a deeper level than just male or female.

The differences between men and women general are well researched and written about and let’s take note of those broader differentials. Men are in general more compartmentalised in their thinking, task focused, and love to find solutions first and emotional understanding second, able to be emotionally separate from the work delivery required. Women are more biologically flexible and fluid in their thinking and feelings, listening with both sides of their brain, multitasking and focused on relationships building to find solutions.

In exploring this deeper differential within each gender, it gave me an insight into my own ‘masculine-minded’ nature, my logical biased brain, and yet my female body! I learned that I was indeed truly female in all the core ways that all women are; multi-tasking, empathetic, relationship orientated, nurturing and emotional. But my brain was highly geared to logic and spatial awareness, and my body bone structure was straight and less shapely than my feminine female friends. I learned to own my ‘male’ brain and love my ‘female’ body and recognised the combination I was born with. I was more drawn to business than motherhood yet I became a mother and thoroughly enjoyed that role. Yet I need to use my ‘male’ brain to get back into business when I could. I had a natural strategic skill that put my logical brain to work. I loved business more than ever!

So now, 20 years later, it is a dream to be working with a new framework, a map that takes those original observations into account. Our business framework comes alive everywhere, in our own team we all come from different parts of the Gender Dynamics Map™. We now use this to help people at all levels of organizations to improve their communications and build relationships across so many aspects of business and life. In teams, in roles, in the boardroom, in service arenas, and in personal and social situations, we see men and women getting that ‘ah ha’ moment and recognizing the magical conversations that can be make success come easily.

We have discovered much about relationships since we studied the many variables within each gender, and we can see now how different types of men and women can co-create a future in business that will be sustainable for human life as well as rich in profits – and maybe solve the current economic chaos.

The deeper understanding of the ‘masculine-feminine’ – ‘male-female’ is embedded into a new matrix to better understand and remove our gender stereotypes, our in-equality experiences, and mixed up relationships, especially where women act like men in the boardroom, or men refuse to see the value of a female in their boardroom. I’d like to tell you – this is a magical clarification of a subject that is so often mis-understood. We can observe some of the core variables in our physicality!!!

GDmap6

Let me give you a brief overview of the components of this new gender matrix…

In summary, a male is most likely to be task focused, process orientated and acting consistently on solutions, while a female will bring feelings and relationships to the forefront to resolve and grow business. However there is a masculine and feminine variation within each gender that can throw a new light on how each sees their approach working with the other; masculine minded women and feminine minded men. This paradox is brought into focus as more and more women have grown into an increasingly ‘left-brained’ world – a masculine business blueprint.

In overview, our types are observed as follows:

The Strong Woman is naturally OK in a male environment, more masculine in outlook, logical, spatial, and often found in ‘male’ sectors such as IT, Telecoms, Construction, Shipping, Banking, and Law. She is often more angular in physique and takes a strong straight stance, happy to ‘square up’ to men and compete with ease. She can be a strong team and boardroom player, bringing a strategic mind and logical style with the ability to value relationships and alliances with partners across the whole business. This is our MF, our masculine-minded female.

The Gentle Woman excels in sensitivity, in creativity, using intuition and nurturing and often drawn to caring roles, coaching and therapeutic professions, people development functions, and customer relationship careers. She is gentle in physique and statute, and often presents a soft approachable presence. Her leadership style can be empathetic and embracing of people and emotional issues, bringing inclusivity and collaboration naturally to the boardroom. This is our FF, our feminine-minded female.

The Strong Man finds the authoritative leadership and management role easily, is usually physically and mentally strong and seemingly un-emotional at work. He is strong shouldered, stands straight and direct and presents a dominant physique. He can be seen as a tough leader who controls with a strong hand on the wheel and this style is directive especially on stormy seas. This is our MM, our masculine-minded male.

The Gentle Man is often found using a more creative, sensitive inclusive leadership style, building teams through personal relationships and using his feelings on a daily basis. He is gentler in physique and softer faced, slim or slightly contoured bodyline. He can be as a ‘servant’ leader, bringing others on board and lead by example spreading responsibility and autonomy among his team members and in the boardroom. This is our FM, our feminine-minded male.

If you are not one of these four extreme types then you may be between them and be a balanced feminine-minded masculine male FMM or balanced masculine-minded feminine female MFF.

We can make or break business when men and women don’t recognise their different styles and difficulties of mis-understanding arise.

By misunderstanding the natural order of the whole gender dynamic mix, we potentially restrain the scope for women and men to work productively in harmony and with the healthiest balance for business success. It’s time to change our view to a more inclusive one. This ‘physicality’ approach born on my observations of twenty years ago may save us yet and aid enormously how men and women communicate and build a new social and economic order for business.

here’s a story that starts to explore how different types of men and women can get into a tangle and their challenge – and ours – is to sort it out!!

Let me know your thoughts – how should the story continue….?

Watching women in a changing world

Watching the news on women aiming for the boardroom is fascinating. There is a lot of progress in one sense – Chairmen of major organisations are meeting a new cohort of potential senior women at last. Congratulations to Elin Hurvenes of Professional Boards Forum who has successfully held her first event in the Uk, where 20 top Chairmen met many senior women on May 5th and discused how the boardroom can become more balanced. We still have a long way to go however this is a fabulous start.

When top men start saying keynote statements such as Roger Carr, Chairman, Centrica plc and Cadbury plc “In my experience women add considerable value to the boardroom discussion. They help generate a more team oriented and thoughtful atmosphere that produces better board work. For that simple reason I want both genders represented on any board I chair.” …then we will start a quiet evolution towards creating a new economic order together.

My passion and that of my colleagues is create more magical conversations where men and women not only get to hear what each has to say, but they also listen and take on board the significance of this new merger of gender.

HOWEVER In all M&As the greatest test is to merge cultures successfully – and many mergers fail because due care and attention is not made to the differences between the cultures. The same is happening here with men and women as often not enough care and attention is being made to understanding each culture and oft times it is said ‘men and women are not different’ (Fawcett Society). Men and Women are different and thank goodness! and women are different to other women, men differenet to men, generation over generation, differences are all around. The choice we have is to value each other as individuals and bring both separate and combined ‘femaleness’ and ‘maleness’ in as a business benefit.

Just to focus here on women, enlightened women know that to be healthy in the boardroom, they need to be themselves, not someone they think they need to be… and not having to act and behave like a man. Even if women naturally have a ‘masculine-minded’ brain and a preference for action, directness, and traits often associated with men, or ‘feminine-minded’ women who bring natural intuition and softer people skills to the party, all women have inherent biological characteristics that add amazing benefits to business. Women are emotionally wired to nurture relationships, to multi-task, to communciate and build client rapport and customer service easily to name a few. Women love business and in general do things differently to men…but they don’t in general ‘sell’ themselves up the career ladder the way men do.

This is not about men or women being better or worse than each other – just different! More women than ever are setting up businesses today, even in a fragile and chaotic market! We’re enjoy business, often we don’t enjoy major corporate life, maybe because we’re not in ownership of the blueprint that has been designed by men for years and years!

Every women, any type, from tough tomboy type to the soft-power gentle woman, all can expand their business and interpersonal skills into a masculine boardroom bringing the required balance that business needs today. May be women don’t want to work on the male playing field anymore but don’t know how to change things.

Take Roger Carr’s view – he knows having a mixed board makes a different atmosphere and there is more evidence that mixed boards run more successful businesses overall in profits and sustainable growth. I see it over and over through our sessions with women over the last 6 months that women tell us that they want to be more tuned to their natural skills, their gender qualities, and their personal motivators and to go higher – but struggle to maintain their senior level confidence against a backdrop of beign a minority and rise up through the more male-run organisations.

Maybe we need to take a lateral view on this whole issue of women in a changing world… and change the groundrules rather than keep struggling on an old blueprint that is now out of date!!