What is the price of success?


Clear priorities vs heart-breaking sacrifices – some costs are too high to pay.
Business people discussing over plan on glass wall in office

“I feel disconnected”

“I am constantly at capacity, there is no time for me”

“I feel unsupported and undermined at work and at home”

“I work harder than the men in my office and yet I am overlooked time and time again. It’s like I am invisible.”

“I sacrificed everything for my career. I did what I had to”

These are some of the most common dynamics I have witnessed women transcend in the past 15 years working with high-calibre female leaders internationally across a broad range of industries from government, media, finance, real estate, health care, banking, STEM to entrepreneurs, athletes and more.

It is true that what is required to stand in the leadership arena is, in most cases, underestimated levels of grit, substantial work experience, genuine passion and an ability to adapt to industry changes and frequent market fluctuations.

However, there is a distinct difference between having clear priorities vs making heartbreaking sacrifices. Some costs are too high to pay.

Mental and physical wellbeing, time with family or having a family, self-respect and the idea to fulfil one’s ‘true north’ are all tremendously significant elements of life which sadly, have been taken for granted way too often in recent decades.

Billions of dollars are invested every year in professional development and employee support programs. It is refreshing to see more emphasis being placed on those crucial factors of our career potential.

However that also imposes a new question:

“What values can those in authority demonstrate in a way which benefits all people?”

Outline below are the three major causes of why women in leadership deny their feminine strengths:

Generational conditioning – breaking unconscious bias

A child’s experience with their parental figures in early stages of their life creates unconscious assumptions about what feminine and masculine principles are. That’s inevitable.

Many of us grew up in what we consider traditional family settings. Where the  roles of masculine and feminine figures were clearly divided in terms of responsibilities.

Masculine features (father derived) would display qualities like authority, decisiveness, directionality, leadership, uninterrupted focus and drive for bread winning. All of these terms are generally considered as strengths.

Feminine attributes (mother derived) were mostly associated with nurturing, empathy, warmth, love, connection and belonging. In the presence of masculine tendencies feminine traits could appear as more submissive, passive and not viable independently.

Taking such beliefs into workplaces inherently created a conflict between genders. However the root cause of the issue is placed elsewhere. We mistakenly assumed that feminine tendencies are insubstantial which resulted in mass mutation of masculine constitution in business and corporate spheres.

Discovering how individual childhood experiences have impacted our presumptions about feminine and masculine definitions is paramount to building bridges between gender discrimination and separation to equality, unity and support.

Lack of support

A general consensus is that there is no place for feminine values in business and corporate circles due to the misinterpretation of its usefulness.

Women comprise only of 19.5% of CEOs in Australia according to 2020-21 WGEA dataset which indicates that female representation in leadership is still a concern despite “a clear message: more women in key decision making positions delivers better company performance, greater productivity and greater profitability”

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The more undervalued and discriminated women feel, the more this debilitating model perpetuates. A more productive motto is: “you teach people on how to treat you”, so if the standard of how you are treated is not of the standard you deserve you and only you can change this dynamic. Respect is earnt and in a high percentage of cases women certainly deserve to be respected more but tolerate not experiencing it.

Feminine and masculine tendencies are complementary to each other. Operating primarily in one element of the two disrupts one of the most potent feminine success strategies: our rhythm – flow state. It robs us off any sense of freedom, internally and externally.

Feminine leadership encompasses, amongst many facets, empathy, a connection to all ingredients of the process i.e vision, purpose, people, self which fosters belonging and inclusion, open communication – a blend of vulnerability and transparency.

Masculine tendency focuses on exerting energy/effort to produce the result fast – DOING LEADERSHIP.

Feminine strategy is to create results benefiting the greater good through connection – BEING LEADERSHIP.

Support is not always given, but creating strategic alliances and international support structures personally and professionally is paramount to our success, happiness and our capability to influence change.

Safety attached to masculine approaches

A high percentage of women have achieved extraordinary career success by predominantly utilising masculine tendencies.

Those of us who have not recognised feminine essence for prolonged period of time often are left with significant symptoms of disconnection ie detachment from our own bodies (body weight issues, body dysmorphia, self-criticism and more), co-existing with partners in loveless marriages, feeling lonely, having regrets around multiple lifestyle choices or not being able to breakthrough perceived limitations to achieve new heights of evolution personally and professionally.

It’s never too late to do things differently. Reconnection with feminine qualities requires inner work, but it’s a journey worth taking.

Many women are faced with fear that if they put their own oxygen mask on first the world will collapse around them. Others believe that if they change, the world won’t accept the new version of themselves. It is true, when you shift, everything shifts. Isn’t that what the true meaning of leadership is?

To have the privilege to lead change means to walk the talk, to embody the values which we wish others to follow, to trailblaze through unknown territory purposefully to make a difference for the next generation of leaders.

When a woman marries her professional expertise and her drive with her unique feminine leadership blueprint, she finally “comes home to herself’. Her presence changes and so does her world.

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