Girls & Boys – Is Machismo Ruling Your Leadership?

The average score on the Courageous Counter (how we measure how much you need us!) against the question:  “I have one me – I know who I am – I am the same person at work and at home” is 4.5/10. 

So, that’s the vast majority of us, not knowing who we are, and changing between home and work.  We have found a striking pattern of conformity and changing ourselves in this way, and it affects men and women. A recent BBC news article quoted a report from Credit Suisse that found: ”companies where women made up at least 15% of senior management were 50% more profitable than those where fewer than 10% of senior managers were female.” A staggering finding that helps the current call for gender equality in the boardroom.  Other research finds that the argument about ‘more women = greater profits’ is not quite as simple. 

I am 100% in support of gender equality in business, however, would this debate be irrelevant if men felt they were able to bring their real selves into work and not subscribe to playing a perceived masculine role?



At the same time, we are hearing from many male commentators about the negative and restrictive aspects of traditional masculinity.  Grayson Perry’s book ‘The Descent of Man’ talks about how the rigidity of masculine roles can destroy men’s lives.  Whilst former disciple of ‘Laddishness’, the journalist Chris Hemmings, talks in a new book about the negative impact of his previous life – how he felt pressure to act in a certain way, to show his machismo, to the extent of feeling pride in not crying at his own father’s funeral, where he actively buried his true feelings. Work places and boardrooms can become a hotbed of this male machismo: macho, masculine toughness – the ultimate male mask.  And it affects men and women in different ways.  We see women “manning up”, with some businesses even training them to speak in a more masculine tone.  One contact we have, was even asked to use hand weights to strength and “man up” her handshake! So, we women feel that we must change and leave some of our real self at home, despite the stats above that female energy boost profits!  This message is just as important for women at work as men!

Part of Chris Hemmings advice about ‘How Not to be a Man’ includes fessing up to having flaws, listening to people and being more empathetic.     The true message for boys and girls is to be authentic and genuine.  Men, take the energy that you have when you cuddle your kids, that warm caring, and bring it to work! The fun and playfulness from the rugby club, bring it to the board room. Girls, let’s stay strong in who we are but also bring in our feminine strengths of sensitivity and normalness.  It inspires and drives the bottom line. Here are some challenges to help you bring the real you to work:

  • Do you always try and present the perfect you?  Get over yourself – it’s a façade. Being authentic is accepting the real you – warts and all.   
  • Stop seeking approval – be honest and say what you really think. Stop trying – just be.
  • Find out who you are – which is not your head, story, persona or habits – it’s in your heart (ask us about iAM).
  • Be led by your heart and not just your mind, trust your hunches and go with your intuition.  Think about how you solve problems with those you care about at home, and use the same tactics at work.

If someone really knew the real you – what is it they would know about you?  That part of your personality that you are not currently showing. 

Be brave and share this part of yourself with your co-workers and team.

From Courageous Success Inspiration