Do you ever feel like somewhere along your corporate career you’ve disconnected with the real you?This was me in 2004. At the time, I was working at Roche, travelling the globe and working on cutting-edge cancer therapies. Whilst I loved what I did, I had this deep desire to want to “SERVE” in a bigger way. Wanting to be of service, sounded weak and vulnerable and I was too afraid of what others might think. So I pressed on and continued to ignore the whispers.
After a significant turning point at work, I realised that I needed to listen to the whispers. For the past ten years, I’ve been privileged to have served over 3000 professional women and c-suite executives and have helped them create a personal brand that overcomes bias and allows them to lead with confidence.
During this time, it became apparent to me that many of them had become disconnected. They no longer knew who they were. They were dressing like men, sounding like men and acting like men. Yet, I would catch glimpses of their deep feminine energy during our many conversations. When I’m working with professional women including c-suite executives, creating their personal brand always starts with an in-depth discussion around their values, what they want from their careers and wardrobe and why often they feel disconnected with who they are, what they do and how they do it.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer and Vogue editor Anna Wintour have adopted their own “leadership look” based on wearing vibrant shift dresses and heels. While these women’s styles vary, the focus is the same, their clothes fit perfectly, they wear high-quality fabrics, and pay simple attention to accessories and grooming.
When I take my clients through a yin/yang exercise, I discover that many of them have hidden yin leadership qualities that are buried away and are only ever seen at home. Many professional women reject the feminine parts of themselves for fear of not being taken seriously.
Have women been conditioned to be more masculine in a corporate world? I think so! In the past, for women to wield power in what was historically a man’s world, she had to pretty much dress like a man. This is no longer the case and we’re free to present a new image of what leadership looks like.
If I were to ask you, “What qualities do leaders possess”. It’s highly likely the Masculine / Yang qualities will surface first.
The good news is that the world is changing. We are starting to embrace feminine energy. In the “Athena Doctrine”, the author’s proprietary survey of 64,000 people around the world shows, traditionally feminine leadership and values are now more popular than the macho paradigm of the past.
The most innovative among us are breaking away from traditional structures to be more flexible, collaborative and nurturing. All over the world, people are deploying feminine thinking and values to make their lives, and the world, better. So when it comes to your personal brand, how do you strike the balance between feminine and masculine energy?
Let’s look at Oprah as an example.
Oprah naturally exhibits more yang physical characteristics due to her build and dark features. However, when she wears her hair curly, she instantly looks softer (more yin). When she wears her hair straight paired with dark solid frames, she instantly looks more yang as seen below. You’ll notice in the top left image, the curved frames of her glasses, although dark, help her look more yin than yang.
When it comes to the overall picture, let’s review how your outfit can shift you along the yin/yang continuum.
You’ll notice in the images below that Oprah is wearing softer fabrics, no frames, her hair is curly and is wearing feminine colours. All of these elements teamed together make her look more feminine or more Yin.
In the images below you’ll notice that Oprah is striking a great balance between yin and yang. When her hair is straight, her clothing has softer edges. When her hair is curly, her clothing is darker in colour and carries more angles. In a corporate context, professional women in positions of leadership need to strike a balance between yin and yang so they appear confident and strong, whilst also appearing authentic and approachable.
There will be times in your corporate career where you will need to exhibit more yang than yin qualities. You’ll notice in the below images that Oprah is wearing block solid dark colours teamed with strong angles and straight hair. These looks carry more masculine energy.
Overall, as a professional woman, don’t be afraid to embrace your feminine energy. Aim for your outfit to strike a yin/yang balance and remember to always remain true to yourself. When you deny a part of yourself, you lose your POWER!
The World Is Ready For Empowered Women