Men Need to Tap into their Feminine Side!

This is a redo of a blog posting I wrote several years ago.  It is probably more important today than it was way back then.  South Africa, as elsewhere in the world, is characterised by a paternal society where the male is dominant in both the business world and society at large.  This is still the case in spite of brave efforts by the government of the day to bring about gender equality.

Jung said that the human psyche has both a conscious and unconscious dimension.  The human psyche also has a feminine and masculine aspect to it.  Jung refers to the feminine in the male as the anima, while the masculine in the female is referred to as the animus.  If you are a man, your conscious is masculine, while your unconscious is feminine.

In countries with a lot of conflict, or where recourse to violence is readily common, you find that men tend to neglect the feminine aspect of their psyche.  The result of this is that we have a society in which the emotional intelligence of the average male is quite low, for the simple reason that survival required him to be strongly cognitive and less emotional.  Emotional intelligence, however, has become very important for business success (and for societal success for that matter).

Linked to the search for emotionally intelligent managers, it is well-known that leadership has transactional (being decisive and assertive – more masculine) and transformational (team building, taking a longer term view – more feminine) attributes.  The transactional attributes are driven by the male hormone, testosterone, which according to Wilber has the purpose of “if you can’t have sex with it, eat it!”  The transformational attributes are driven by the female equal to testosterone, i.e. oxytocin, which has been described as the “relationship drug”; it induces strong feelings of attachment and relationship.  It is important that leaders have access to both types of attributes.  Over-emphasising one leads to dysfunctional individuals and management teams.  This probably explains the typical knee-jerk characteristic of a lot of the politics in our country.

The research shows that the best leader has a balance between his/her masculine and feminine characteristics and knows what to use when and with whom.  For South African men and for men in general, in fact, it also is a wake up call to get in touch with their feminine side and develop the necessary emotional intelligence and spirituality to do just that!  This would require them to go back to their very own centre and really get to grips with whom they are.

People like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are obvious SA examples of people who have been able to tap into both their masculine and their feminine sides.  Imagine a Nelson Mandela being in jail for 27 years and preaching reconciliation after being released!  Picture a Ghandi preaching non-violence in a turbulent time in India’s history!

What is stopping you from tapping into both your masculine and feminine attributes?

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1 Response

  1. Liesl says:

    It is so time we accept that the balance is required. balanced leadership comes down to composure and understanding that being domineering is equally dangerous to being meek!
    In reading Good to Great of Jim Collins, I identified with the leader he describes as having ““extreme personal humility with intense professional will.” This is my ultimate goal. In the article “The Humble Hound” by David Brooks ( there is reference to this humility and to a type of leader who spends time “thinking about her thinking” or “metacognition”. I found this fascinating. Reflecting is part of the journey in leadership. I’m struggle daily.

    Excellent post Johan