In a rapidly changing world, stereotypes of gender are transforming many aspects of society and business culture.
Not only is motherhood no impediment to the degree of ambition and expectation women have in terms of achieving greater job and career responsibility, male attitudes to gender roles are shifting, with men more willing to make job changes and sacrifices to achieve better work and family life balance, and to contribute to their wives or partners career success. Many traditionally male or female dominated jobs are also seeing an increase in gender balance to varying degrees, particularly in the last 10 years.
While many are successfully shifting attitudes to gender-roles, narrow mindsets can still dominate in both overt or subtle ways, and both men and women can still feel limited in their freedom to advance in business or chose a career that may be perceived as atypical to generalized norms.
Whether you have experienced a little or a lot of discrimination for the body you were born in, you can have profound impact on the future of business by taking a leadership role in empowering yourself and others to go beyond gender-roles or any other perceived limitation.
This begins with committing to becoming limitless in your own mindset and addressing any unconscious judgements you may have in place. Adopt the following questions into your business mindset and become an invitation to function outside of confines based on gender or any other definition:
Are you willing to be a leader that empowers all people?
The key to continual progress where gender-role issues may arise is to first recognize that judgment, definition or discrimination of any kind, gender-based or not, will create a limitation in mindset and as a result in business. It is important to ask yourself the question, “Am I willing to be a leader for the empowerment of all?”
When you ask this question, you will step beyond oppositional thinking such as men versus women, right versus wrong, and begin to see the change you can affect with the people around you based on the possibilities available, rather than the problems and issues you think you have to overcome to succeed.
If you perceive gender-based judgment coming into play around you, or even in your own thinking, asking a question as simple as, “What else is possible here?” or “What choice is available beyond this?” will expand your thoughts beyond any barriers to include all kinds of possibilities for instigating change that you may not have previously considered.
Do you encourage contribution or competition?
The narrow-thinking that underpins gender-role stereotypes are usually accompanied by a sense of divisiveness, opposition and competition. The elements of competition are: right and wrong, win and lose, better than and less than, proving and defending. When you function from competition you cannot acknowledge your value and capacities in their own right and you cannot receive the talents and capacities of others that could contribute to you. In business this means potentially losing money, projects, and opportunities by not being willing to come together and take advantage of what everyone can bring to the table.
Eliminate oppositional thinking and develop a contribution-based mindset. Ask yourself, “What do I know that no one else does?” “What do others know that I don’t that would contribute to bringing this to fruition?” “Who or what can I add to the business/project today that would contribute to this becoming greater than what I can create alone?” “What are we capable of together that we could not create alone?”
With a contribution mindset, you can be in pole position and invite others to springboard off you to create even greater. This in turn can challenge you to look at what else is possible for you and what you are capable of that you haven’t acknowledged. A contribution-based perspective empowers you and others to out-create alongside each other, rather than compete against each other from oppositional positions.
Are you willing to be a game-changer?
As a leader in life and business, would you ever truly allow any definition, judgment or limitation to be relevant, significant or dominant? A limitation is only real if you decide it is. When you recognize that no judgment or belief can hold you back, you can ask questions like, “How can I out-create and go beyond this with ease?” and “If this wasn’t a problem, what possibility would it be?” and see possibilities, opportunities and advantages where others see none. A true leader is willing to be a game-changer, not just a player.
When you are willing to acknowledge that any limitation is only relevant if you choose to make it so, you will recognize your ability to create a different future and be an invitation for others to do the same. With an empowered perspective, gender-based roles, biases and limitations lose relevance in the face of our commitment to embracing and levering all differences to create more in our businesses and organizations.
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About Doris Schachenhofer
After completing her social work studies in Vienna, Doris Schachenhofer worked with children, homeless people, delinquent teenagers and prisoners transitioning back into the real world.
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