The Rise of the Feminine – what it means for business and leadership
If The Art of War was the masculine archetypal guide to strategy then ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ now illustrates how The Rise of the Feminine has permeated business schools. Rather than using metaphors of war, the discussion centres around charting fresh territory, creating uncluttered niche markets, inventing and reinventing brands, strategies and ideas, collaborating rather than competing, seeking synergies, delivering superior customer value, and engaging and empowering employees in meaningful work in which their creative minds find stimulation.
The liberation of creative right brain thinking is much needed, even in a legal and regulatory environment where compliance is more the order of the day than creativity. Compliance activities are prime fodder for automation and/or outsourcing. The real value-add of a professional services firm is around creative thinking.
Technological advances and the increased globalisation it facilitates means that decisions need to be made in real time. Heifetz draws a distinction between authority and leadership stating that leadership is an improvisational art. It is a verb, not a noun.
Warren Bennis chimes in to suggest “many CEO’s are bosses not leaders”. The act of leadership can and does occur at grass roots levels.
A major challenge in the professional services environment is how effectively you encourage risk taking and mistake making. Is it something you discourage, merely tolerate or actively encourage? Businesses are de-risked but employees must take calculated risks and have supporting organisational frameworks that encourage them to do so.
Traditional patriarchal models of leadership serve to reinforce the power base of the authority figures that created them. Leadership is not something that can be delegated. Authority is delegated but leadership is demonstrated by anyone with a heartfelt conviction in a cause. What the model needs is less authority and more people empowered to lead. It is not about delegation, it is about empowerment.