Reclaiming the Feminine
When I first started in this industry over eight years ago, there was a lot of talk about how women in senior positions needed to get ahead to make their mark. They needed to be aggressive. They needed to be assertive. They needed to be more ‘masculine’ to compete with their male counterparts. Unfortunately, this is all part of the outdated way of thinking that feminine = weak and masculine = strong. Obviously, we know this is ridiculous, but such engrained thinking has rooted itself in the corporate psyche.
Much of why I love working with Executive Presence is because it reclaims what it means to be feminine. Presence is about truly understanding your strengths, your brand, what makes you unique, and being able to present this to world. Whether you are introverted, quiet, assertive, loud, it’s about harnessing your communication style and making it work for you.
So, what does it mean to be feminine? Being feminine does not equate to being soft, or flowery or sweet. It’s about tapping into where your strengths lie. It’s about communicating with power. It’s about knowing your worth. It’s about rejecting the misconceptions of what it means to be a woman in power.
The feminine / masculine dichotomy is not a helpful one. Just as it’s important to break down what it means to be feminine in male-dominated industries, so too is it important to break down what it means to be masculine. The most powerful leaders I know are also the best listeners. They are decisive, but without ego. They are patient. Their communication style is unparalleled. They are ruthless, but brave. They are confident, but also graceful. They are what is typically thought of feminine and also what is typically thought of as masculine. So let’s break down these barriers. There should be nothing harsh or brash about being masculine, there should be nothing weak or soft about being feminine. They are both a means of tapping into our internal strengths, of our personal experience and learnings (regardless of gender) and using this to guide us in our interactions with others and our own internal compass.
Melissa Lewis, the founder of The Ascension Group, is regarded as the leading expert on ‘the power of a woman’s presence’. She works with female talent and organisations to elevate their Executive Presence so they can achieve the career rewards and recognition they deserve. At the heart of her work is the knowledge that it’s not a lack of talent holding them back, but the way they are perceived by others. Her tailored approach includes using the world’s only science-based assessment tool for Executive Presence, (Bates Communications’ EXPITM), her own proprietary diagnostic tool PQ® (Presence Quotient ®), workshops, keynote speaking, image consulting and one-on-one coaching and mentoring.