If you’re a woman who’s up for climbing the corporate ladder, you likely know that, if you want to lead, you should stop being the one who makes the coffee for others at work, tidies up the trays of stale sandwiches, and is too helpful.
If you’re a man who’s up for climbing the corporate ladder, it might be that the word nurturing, perhaps because of its stereotypical connotations, doesn’t sit at the top of your list of priorities (please forgive me if this isn’t true for you).
I want to write about nurturing today. I want to write about assumptions that have nothing to do with gender – and why you can’t be an inspiring leader if nurturing isn’t near the top of your agenda.
I also want to write about the problems with putting nurturing into a box with a shiny, neat red ribbon. And, I want to include nurturing in every conversation about being the type of leader the world needs today, and the best kind of leader you’re capable of being.
It’s well documented that wise leaders know that a culture of bonding and belonging – that puts people first – works exceptionally well during times of stress, especially when it’s necessary to rebuild trust.
Classic nurturing leaders communicate openly, make decisions collaboratively, focus highly on relationships, inspiring others and cooperating, as well as getting the job done. Studies frequently show that to lead effectively a nurturing style, rather than an authoritarian one, wins the day.
It has nothing to do with gender, although research shows that it’s a style that often sits more comfortably and naturally with women, and that the qualities are typically feminine.
Let’s change the conversation. What if nurturing is essential, everyone has an innate ability to nurture (regardless of gender), and what matters most is discovering and instigating how you nurture in your unique way?
What if it starts with how you best nurture yourself, so you can best nurture those in your care – whether they’re people in your organisation, team, tribe – or at home?
What if there’s no right way, and none of this can be learned in a conventional leadership program?
When I discovered that my style of nurturing is to teach, express and feed ideas, and create networks, I could develop my own strategy that works on my terms, and ensures I give my best to others. It’s what I’m doing right now, writing this, and what forms the foundation of my books. I’m all about inspiring, motivating and energising.
Mine is to nurture individuality, too, build rapport and connection, and help make nurturing universally essential and acceptable for all leaders invested in being truly powerful and making a difference.
Making coffees and clearing the sandwich trays? No way. But that’s not because Lois Frankel said I shouldn’t. Having a tribe of children would never work for me either (I stopped at one).
On the shadow side – and there’s always a shadow side – I’ve had to ditch stereotypes of what nurturing looks like, and discover what’s true for me. Without that, I have little to give. And nor do you. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to leading.
“Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection” ~ Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
As leaders, we’re here to nurture others. What’s your unique style? Where does it fit in your strategy?
Not sure? Want to find out? Stay tuned for the Inspire Code. It’s designed to develop the type of leaders the world needs right now (hint: that’s you). It launches July 1.
Make sure you scroll down and pop your name in the box below so you’re amongst the first to hear all about it.
I’m Tricia Karp, and I’m on a mission to develop the type of leaders the world needs right now. I offer workshops, coaching and consulting for organisations and individuals who are committed to making a difference. You can find out more right here.