Following the recent Huffington Post article I was featured in, having participated in a panel discussion hosted by with Cari E. Guittard, "Three Things Gender Intelligent Men Do Differently," the following question has been coming up: “We’ve been writing and studying a lot about ‘gender-intelligent’ men (sometimes called ‘men who get it’). From a man’s point of view, what are ‘gender-intelligent’ women like?
The question is one I will be addressing in my forthcoming book on the 5 principles of healthy masculinity (heart, empathy, accountability, purpose & service) for the modern day inclusionary leader.
I answer the question in the context of what is needed for successful gender ; having a context of gender partnership to guide the conversation is key. After all, it’s all about relationship, both with themselves and others, particularly men. As a gender-intelligent man who has been around many gender-intelligent women, these have been my observations.
GI women speak up:
They ask for what they want because they know what they want and are willing to go after it. This is what Sheryl Sandberg is talking about in Lean in. GI women are able to communicate their needs with confidence because they know they deserve it. One of the biggest things a GI woman can do in the context of gender partnership is to be clear and concise about what she wants and to be straightforward in asking for it.
GI women dance in the tension of collaborating while holding their ground:
A common barrier that holds women back from effective collaboration is the fear of men's reaction to what they might say (or not say). Collaboration requires speaking her truth in the face of the fear while at the same time listening for the other’s point of view and what it has to contribute to the outcome.
GI women are willing to be in this discomfort. They don't tolerate feelings of being a victim. The women I have observed would stick to their truth and also when necessary seek to find collaborative ground. This is a key thing GI women can do to cultivate healthy masculinity with the men in their lives, both personally and professionally. By both modeling it and standing in their power, GI men( and those that seek to be) can make the choice to meet GI women on ground that is neither his nor hers, but is common ground.
GI women continuously work on their emotional literacy:
GI women self-examine and are willing to own their humanness and take responsibility for cleaning things up when they get triggered emotionally. They are also willing to examine their own unconscious limitations that are often at the root of limited success.
In the journey toward gender intelligence, both men and women will occasionally "go on autopilot" and slip into old behaviors driven by their past. One of the things I have learned is many of our behaviors get triggered in the work place and lead to less than desirable consequences.
Knowing (and accepting) that this is a human reality will better equip both men and women to be our highest self more often in our working relationships. GI women that both understand and commit to this awareness path make great leaders!
GI women demonstrate curiosity:
Gender intelligent women demonstrate curiosity in my experience as a gender intelligent man in gender partnership and my wants as a man in gender partnership, I have noticed and appreciated GI women's curiosity to better understand me as a man, how I thought, what was important to me. The translation I make about this curiosity is that they care. If they care, I trust and can be open. If I am open we can embark on gender partnership and that is where the magic is. This is a key thing GI women can do to cultivate healthy masculinity with the men in their lives, both personally and professionally.