What do I mean by “the feminine”? I don’t necessarily mean female. In fact “the feminine” can be displayed by either gender in the workplace.
There’s a list of attributes and ways of interacting we can characterize as “feminine” – I’ve already listed some of them here. Here’s an example of one characteristic from that list – caring and loving kindness – as I saw it lived out in the workplace a number of years ago.
Here’s what “feminine” looks like at work.
I was working for a company in Colorado, and we had a team member in our managers’ group who found out her adult child needed very specialized heart surgery. This manager needed to go to Cleveland with her child to be present during the surgery and help with recovery.
The team member was worried about how long she would need to spend away from work to be at her child’s side during the difficult time. When our director learned of her need for an extended absence, he simply said: “You go and take care of your child. Come back when you can. The team will cover things here and we’ll see you when we get back.”
We covered her responsibilities in the meantime, and after her child’s successful surgery, she was back to work. With tears in her eyes, she thanked us for making the solution so simple. I will always remember that appreciation – there was no pondering of policies, no questions about the situation. She knew her job would be waiting for her when she returned, and as team members, she knew we had her back.
When dealing with illness and other extenuating circumstances, there is always a way to work around an absence, usually with little, if any, long-term impact to the team, project or organization…life comes first.
Unfortunately, from my experience, dealing with a crisis as a team in this way has been the exception instead of the rule. I share the story as one example of what I mean by “bringing forth the feminine” in the workplace. Can you think of other examples from your own experience?