For my male readership, here is a reminder to keep tucked away in your back pocket. Balanced leaders make better leaders. To be more successful you'll stand a better chance if you stop following outdated stereotypes that subscribe to the masculine, tough-guy style of leadership. This does not mean that you must give up your man-card, but it does mean that you should trust your feelings more, maybe even tear up on occasion (and do so without bearing shame). You will find that being "weaker" ultimately means that you'll be stronger and become a better leader. All that you need do is choose to play all of the cards in your hand.
It is unfair that from birth men are fed messages that set them up to have unrealistic expectations of themselves. They are conditioned to believe that if they become the ultimate model of powerful masculinity, they will be rewarded with more sex, salary and status. This programming results in disappointment, confusion and frustration.
It was during my gender workshops, that I first became aware of just how much masculinity is misunderstood. When I asked for examples of men who possessed masculine energy, the male participants attending would typically answer with Putin or Trump. Both men are extremely out of balance and infamous caricatures of masculinity taken to the extreme. Remember that old saying, "too much of a good thing is a bad thing?"
Men who are out of balance act out by adopting the vices of masculinity rather than its virtues. They present as predators of the weak rather than protectors of the innocent. Mature masculinity doesn't use bullying, aggression or swagger to one up others.
Though personifying this extreme masculinity is not who most young men are or even who they want to be, it is what they believe society expects of them. Sadly, they are programmed to fit into masculine pigeonholes which have not evolved since the 18th century, leaving them vastly unprepared for success in our constantly changing global economy.
Today, women are exhibiting characteristics that used to be held only by purveyors of the masculine persuasion. Consider Katness Everdeen, the Hunger Games protagonist who demonstrates strength, bravery and loyalty along with her archery prowess. This leaves many men feeling lost, angry and uncertain about their positions, even causing some to lash out against women.
Rather than perpetuating this downward cycle, men should be encouraged to reject the old stereotypes and understand that success over the long term, both personally and in business, is not "winner takes all." Men who demonstrate mature masculinity know how to take care of themselves, and others, without becoming ruthless.
They have confidence without arrogance. They defend their values and acknowledge the opinions of others without becoming zealots. They are able to think rationally without having the need to control. Most importantly, they treasure integrity, and won't greedily sell their own grandmother in order to achieve their goals.
Embracing only masculine traits leaves men not only feeling empty and without purpose, but also unable to access the much wider repertoire of management skills available to them. Great leaders develop. They know that true strength that comes from acceptance of the very thing that they have been taught to fear-- connecting with their feminine attributes.
Research released by Anne Grethe Solberg of Norwegian School of Management demonstrates that many individuals who reach top levels in the corporate world are androgynous and exhibit both feminine and masculine gender role identities. Their dual leadership style creates the best climate for growth and innovation because it fosters good human relationships, which in turn motivates followers to stretch beyond their job descriptions.
To be better leaders, men can play all of their cards by developing their feminine qualities and utilizing the following five tips:
1. Focus on the Relationship
Rather than isolating a problem to fix it, support the person who is having the problem. Take a moment to reflect on what others may be feeling instead of offering solutions. Practice empathy.
2. Learn Emotional Self-Awareness
Feel your feelings instead of judging or dismissing them. Consider how you feel in various situations and make note of when you are becoming critical or judgmental of others.
3. Let Go of the Need to Win
Give up on your desire to always be right; make a friend instead of making a point. Accept critical feedback from others and examine yourself. Remain open to making changes.
4. Talk to People, not at Them
Be receptive to and engage in dialogue to understand the positions of others. When you must challenge another, ensure that they also know that you care.
5. Become Comfortable with Tears (your own and others')
Welcome tears as the opportunity to acquire an enhanced understanding of a situation. Tears can add clarity; sometimes they can be an indicator that you are overly attached to an outcome. If you do cry, let it go. No one has ever died from crying.
You alone are playing your hand of cards. Recognize it, let go of any outdated tough guy stereotypes that you still hang on to. Enhance your masculinity by developing your feminine attributes. Not only will it make you more balanced, you'll be better equipped to lead in our ever shifting world.
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