Susan is the CEO of a national chain of fashion apparel department stores. David is the CEO of a competing brand.
Both Susan and David have been at the helm for five years. Accomplished and talented professionals, they have each earned their positions. Sharp-minded and effective executives, they are capable of leading with vision.
Although each business has its strengths and weaknesses, Susan and David’s national operations both own a comparable share of the market.
Susan’s company, however, has begun outperforming David’s at an accelerating rate.
Analyzing their businesses to find the differentiating factor proves fruitless. Both are managed by competent people. Both know how to select desirable merchandise. Both know how to create customers.
The difference lies within the minds of these two leaders: their orientation toward themselves and others.
Capitalizing on the Feminine Function
David is a quintessential analytical thinker. He runs his business by the numbers. His focus is mainly on generating the next transaction. He’s an excellent merchant.
Susan also has strong analytic capacities. She understands the importance of customer data. But she pays more attention to her feelings and intuitions.
These qualities might have appeared to be undesirable or weaknesses not too long ago.
Some people certainly tried to use them against Susan earlier in her career. But she’s the CEO now. Her authority and successful track record speak for itself.
Susan has high emotional intelligence that affords her higher self-awareness, superior management of her emotions, deeper empathy, and stellar social skills.
How do these qualities give Susan the edge?
Utilizing Emotional Intelligence in Business
Put simply, Susan is more connected with her humanity. She brings more heart, care, and compassion into the workplace.
With greater empathy, Susan is better equipped to understand her team. She is able to resolve difficult conflicts effectively. She is also able to establish trust and cultivate creative teams.
More than that, she holds a different perspective on her customers. She knows that her customers are people too. They have dreams, aspirations, problems, and needs, just like her and her employees.
Instead of fighting for the next transaction, Susan’s marketing team focuses on making meaningful connections with their customers. Emotion is a regular topic of conversation around the office.
She has moved her organization toward relational marketing. She’s not afraid to sacrifice short-term margins to build long-term customer loyalty. This approach leads to more repeat business, a larger share of wallet, and positive word of mouth.
Learning from the Feminine Powerhouses of Business
This is the power of the feminine. We say, feminine and not “women” because the feminine is a quality available in both men and women.
Female executives like Virginia Rometty at IBM and Mindy Grossman at HSN are examples of leaders who exhibit a strong integration of masculine analytics and feminine awareness.
Southwest’s founder Herb Kelleher and Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh are beautiful examples of men who integrated the feminine function into their businesses with extraordinary success.
Kelleher built an unusual airline business driven by caring and relating. Hsieh built an online retailer devoted to spreading happiness and making the organization feel like a family.
Any time you talk about company culture, corporate values, branding, communication, collaboration, or teamwork, you’ve entered the realm of the feminine.
The masculine function gives us analytical thinking, logic, and reason. The feminine function gives us intuition, feeling, and relating. Both sides are important; both provide vital information to help us make sense of the world around us.
And both the masculine and feminine function are necessary for being an outperforming leader.