Q & A with with coauthors John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio
What are "feminine values" and why do you see them on the rise today?
We asked 64,000 women and men in 13 countries to classify 125 human traits--half of the sample by gender and the other half by which are most important to leadership, success, morality, and happiness today. They consistently picked what they considered "feminine traits" or values--such as selflessness, empathy, collaboration, flexibility, and patience--as the most important.
The majority also rejected masculine notions of control, aggression, and black-and-white thinking that underlie many of our business, political, and social structures. And two-thirds thought the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. What's driving this shift, and why is it important that we learn about it now?
Technology, the financial crisis and globalization mean we live in a world that's increasingly social, interdependent, and transparent. Also, young people around the world don't see differences older generations do--we found that Millennials of both genders have a much stronger appreciation of femininity and the role of women in their society.
We want to make clear that we're not saying women are "born this way" or that they are "naturally" more empathetic or open. Rather, these are skills that have been traditionally segregated or labeled as part of women's domain, and often are undervalued, when in truth, being "feminine" actually make all people more human, and helps them become the best version of themselves. These skills will help people match the needs of the future economy. In a collaborative world where value creation is increasingly based on services, economic growth and standard of living are enhanced by including feminine values. In our surveys, 81% of people said that man or woman, you need both masculine and feminine traits to thrive in today's world. It's a big, global value shift, and it's gaining momentum. What should businesses and government leaders learn and apply from this book?
"The Athena Doctrine" is our name for an emerging form of leadership that is ideally suited to a rapidly changing world. We've had people tell us that this is a great book for women, but it's equally, if not more importantly, for men. Business and politics are built on aggression, control, conflict and command. These models are losing currency fast. Shimon Peres put it this way to us: "We are in a new season with many old minds, and the task is to adapt yourself. The modern leader is here to serve."
We traveled the world to find examples of how leaders in every kind of organization are already applying the tenets of the Athena Doctrine. Inspiring, innovative models are everywhere, and we found some of the best. Are these tenets just for leaders, or can ordinary people apply them in their own lives and work?
The tenets-based on the traits that we found were most highly correlated with success, morality, and happiness-are widely applicable to daily life. We had this amazing experience traveling around the world to find stories of people leading and solving problems in business, politics, and every realm of life. We met a doctor from Pakistan whose vulnerability disarmed (and charmed) his colleagues in the ego-driven world of medical research. We visited a city farm in east London where underprivileged kids taught investment bankers about beekeeping and the lessons of responsible risk-taking. We met ordinary citizens in Japan who rose to their highest levels of humanity to help others after the tragic earthquake and tsunami.
These values are broadly applicable to anyone in everyday life. We found that people who are thinking in a more feminine way are twice as optimistic about their future. If we can all tap into our feminine side, we'll be better, happier, and stronger-both individually and collectively. What do you hope to achieve with this book?
We're both dads in all female households with three beautiful daughters between us. We are excited about what we found because feminine values are really a form of innovation and competitive advantage for today's world. The proceeds of our book benefit the United Nations Campaign's Girl Up program and we aim to include men and boys in this very important discussion.