Women as Leaders: Male Lens
I have had a rocky & enlightening journey as a male facilitator for a programme meant to groom women Leaders.
Let me explain WHY:
- Assumptions that a women programme needs to be facilitated by a woman. The leaders arranging the programmes & the participants have a mindset that another women talking about her trials & tabulations will be inspiring & beneficial
- Beliefs: how can a man understand a woman’s point of view, our challenges are about men
- Unconscious Bias: how can women really open up to a man in an honest manner
With the above as baggage it took me some time to make participants understand just like women want men to understand the women’s viewpoints, the reverse is equally true. The decision of our company to have a male facilitator is by design, to ensure that a wholistic balance is maintained, resulting in practical learning.
A large number of gender inclusion exercises in organizations are partially successful because often the messaging is men versus women. This makes both sex wary of the other and interestingly instead of feeling understood, often the opposite happens. In my programmes I make sure that the male point is view is discussed in the same neutral manner in which the woman’s point of view is, and in my understanding this has built positive belief & confidence in women to interact and deal with men at work.
Some interesting revelations that I have had as a male facilitator:
- Explaining to women that men are not against women, most men have working wives and understand the challenges of dual responsibility. Women find that difficult to digest and the reasons could be is that men often use their masculine energy traits of completion & professional approach and expect women colleagues to do the same. Women are different & when men are told that their women colleagues have certain pain areas, they are surprised as to why the women did not express the same. No rocket science here, the feminine energy is more sensitive to unsaid messages of others and expects her male counterpart to reciprocate in the same way. Adding to this is fear to table issues, inability to separate emotions from facts etc.
I find that after a programme where these myths & limiting perceptions are cleared, women are able to handle such situation with ease & more confidence.
My advice to young women professionals, treat male colleagues like colleagues who are different. Befriend them for 2 reasons, one are still the majority in organisations, two they are 50% of the population and if you try and understand them from an unbiased foundation and you will enjoy the different perspectives of humans.