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When shit hits the fan...
it’s women who hold the can

We’ve just had Mother’s Day, lets have a look at what COVID-19 is meaning to women and mums

It’s never been so obvious that empowering women is not a woman's issue, it's a man's issue
As part of my Covid response, I've offered coaching to the workforce of a couple of larger clients. Guess, what… only women have taken me up!

No men took the opportunity to voluntarily engage with a coach as we go through one of the most disruptive times many of us have ever experienced. What’s that about?
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Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

In times of stress or crises, our society (organisations, families) lean on those the leadership qualities women broadly exhibit better than men - empathy, relatedness and complexity.

We load the work up on mums and women at a time they are already under extra pressure (to clarify, these are feminine leadership traits. Men have them too. It’s just that women have a (solid) head start. This is exactly what I saw in the conversations I did get to have with female leaders.

Women are consistently carrying the lions-share of the load in this Covid-journey we’re all on. At home, with school, workload, family, colleagues and often supporting their partners and husbands too.
Six weeks in and many are very tired!
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It’s not that men are nasty, lazy, insecure or uncaring. This piece is certainly not a dig at men.

It is however that there are a whole bunch of implicit expectations about the way things are done and organised that largely put the weight of anything ‘extra’ on women.

This means that female leaders, both on the international stage and in our communities and organisations, are showing up really well right now (see HERE). It also means that they are often carrying the can for everyone [1]

A simple example really highlighted this for me the other day: I was talking to a man in a senior position in a large pubic agency. He had taken the day off to manage school so his wife could manage her business. He was concerned his wife would return and be unhappy with his work. This is something I can identify with.

This concern highlights the whole problem we face (we face, men and women): even when the man is doing it, schooling is the woman’s job. She’s accountable, he’s just filling in.

I’m responsible at work when I get home, at home too.
I’m always thinking about it.

Women are expected to think about their business and our business and everyone’s business… and they do… but not without cost.

[1] Only women leaders have had press-conferences for children. Jacinda Arden even declared the Easter Bunny an Essential Service. That’s thinking from others!

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Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Where I do this too

My wife is a women’s leadership coach. I should know better, but I fall into exactly the same trap.

I had a very uncomfortable conversation with Deb the other day where I exhibited all the practices that ‘good men’ like me mobilise to resist taking responsibility for the way this plays out.

I asked my wife to lead a women’s empowerment program for a client and she said no. I was surprised and annoyed

You’re just hand-balling your issue” she said, "empowering women is not a women’s issue… it’s a man’s issue, and it starts with YOU."

She reminded me that just facilitating a group of women to support each other will not change anything. There has to be a deeper conversation that starts with the impact of sexism. That is exactly what is not going to happen in a group of women. Women already know the impact, sharing amongst themselves will forward very little. It’s the men who don’t really see it that have to – and that’s uncomfortable!

I kept trying to move Deb to a solution and she kept pulling me back to hearing her out. I wanted to move on, fix something, talk about the program we could deliver. She wanted me to hear the whole thing without judgement or assessment, just to get it. Really get her experience.

I resisted for far too long, but I did get there and that’s half the battle won.

This is something to pull apart for both sexes. Now might be a good time to do that.

Feminine Leadership – the first step

In this Covid world, people are FULL-UP. There is so much going on under the surface even we don’t know most of what we’re dealing with right now, let-alone what others are dealing with.

For men, the access to our feminine leadership is to listen fully. No guilt, no solution, no agenda at all… just hearing and getting everything – from women and men, our teams, bosses, partners and neighbours.

That’s the first, and most important step, to healing. We ALL need that right now!