Men And Women Leading Together

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Despite the fact that too often the notion of men and women leading together is nothing more than that, a notion, does not mean this is not hugely important to work towards doing. Men and women are like the two wings of the bird. When one is missing, the bird cannot fly. Each brings value and gifts to the relationships. When this social dynamic comes into balance, we will have copious peace, prosperity, innovation, and wellbeing.

“In the end, what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”  

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I sent a TED talk to a male friend, entitled Violence Against Women; it’s a Men’s Issue, by Jackson Katz. I was deeply moved because Katz beseeches men of power and influence to make protection and support of women a priority in their professional and personal lives, asking them to question systems that create violence in men, support new policies towards assisting women, and to speak up against those who talk about women in objectified and disrespectful ways.

My friend’s reply was such that it prompted further discourse between us. He wrote me that he agreed men need to respect women, and then cited examples such as taking over menial tasks, opening doors, and maintaining respectful boundaries. While these are valuable, they alone are not enough.

I can see how these warm, caring gestures are respectful, and I personally love to give and receive them. But there is another type of respect from men to women, that is an entirely different thing and that I want to call out singularly in its distinctiveness and value. It’s when men take women seriously and support them actively, in accomplishing their dreams, doing their work, and achieving their goals. I personally know men who do this, but I also know men who are threatened by losing a superior position to women. This is often unconscious, as it is the same for women who mutually fear being equals. These men while often solicitous and mannerly to women, subtly and not so subtly work to keep women in a submissive role, in a power-under position. I know this first-hand.

I believe holistic, much-needed feminine values are rising and women are stepping up in the world at this time as leaders. Support from men is crucial and healing for both sexes. While opening a door for women is caring, it’s frustrating when that’s where the respect stops; when a man does not see “the woman” we wish to be acknowledged as, and supported in becoming. There is a different respect women need, especially from men, that’s beyond conventional safety, convenience, and serving. It’s helping women to rise in leadership, setting policy to ensure their success, and also influencing systems for mutual respect and opportunity, and challenging parenting, educational, and workplace culture systems. More women than ever before are ready, willing, able and desirous to work beside men respectfully, and want to be acknowledged as mutually crucial in changing our human systems and in saving our planet and each other.

Men need to feel cooperation and support from women, and we from them. I am personally experiencing this support from greater numbers of men than ever before. I am grateful to men of power and influence who have become receptive, transparent, and caring, helpful and service-minded to all, from power-within. I am also grateful to women who have adopted a more active role in their lives, speaking out courageously about what is unjust, getting involved to bring about much-needed change in our homes, schools and businesses. We are all needed to save our world at this time, and to create an exceptional way of life with each other. There is so much work to be done, and we must join together to do it. Know that I’m here to join arms with you no matter what your gender (or race, age, economic status, sexual orientation, etc.). Together we can and are ALL needed, in order to fulfill this, my mission, “To create a world in which all people love their lives!”  Happy New Year!

This article was published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, Nov/Dec 2017

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