Posted by: chrismaser | May 9, 2010

CHARACTERISTIC-3: Balancing the Masculine and Feminine

Although a leader can lead someone from here to there in the outer, physical-spatial landscape without actually having been there before, psychologically, a leader can only lead someone to a given place of consciousness in the inner landscape if the leader has in fact been there themself. For example, linear, left-brain thinking, which is a masculine trait, is more prevalent and comfortable in our society than is right-brain thinking, which is a feminine trait.

While tapping into the right side of the brain is more powerful than using the left side, it is difficult to appeal to the right side because it is so often dormant in our society where relationship and creativity are by and large dashed upon the social rocks of patriarchal conformity. Therefore, to appeal to the right side of the brain, the conceptual side, a leader must either have a strong innate balance or must consciously develop it before being able to stimulate it in others.

It is a necessity for a good leader to be well balanced between the right and left brain, the feminine and masculine aspects of the self, because a truly effective leader must be able to make an emotional connection with those who follow. I say this because a leader cannot change people’s minds but can bring their convictions and values to the surface. Before this is possible, however, an emotional connection must be made, and that lies within the realm of the right side of the brain.1

A common human trait is to make decisions based on emotion and justify them with “fact.” Although you may disagree with this statement, believing yourself to be totally rational and objective because you do thorough research before you make a decision, think back to your last major decision, your last big purchase—a car, house, an important article of clothing. Why did you select the one you did? Was it color, size, how it made you feel, or what you thought it might do for your social standing that caused you to select it? After your initial reaction, did you feel that you needed to justify the price? This same principle applies to concepts and ideas; we buy the emotion before we accept the “facts,” which lends credence to the observation by American author Charlotte P. Gilman that “a concept is stronger than a fact.”

Therefore, leaders who appeal to the right side of their followers’ brains, who touch them emotionally, make a lasting connection. Such leaders not only create experiences for their constituency or cause a long-dormant memory to be vividly recalled but also make a memorable connection that has the power to motivate.

But before any of this can happen, before a new idea will be accepted, the leader must be likable as a person. Do we feel good about them? Is the person authentic and trustworthy? This is critical, because genuine passion is not only rare but also the way to the emotions and the soul. Passionate leaders are often described as dynamic, charismatic, riveting, or engaging because the authenticity of their message, their vision, is palpable, especially if it is one their constituency can also believe in.

Such a leader makes people feel good about themselves, which, in turn, makes them want to follow—if for no other reason than to be around the leader. Although a powerful leader can leave people on a natural high, to be genuine, they must also be therapeutic as a person, such as Mahatma Gandhi was.

Series on Qualities Of Leadership:

• The Essence Of Leadership: Personal Values And Philosophy Of Life

• Characteristics Of An Effective Leader

• Characteristic-1: Other-Centered And Authentic

• Characteristic-2: An Honorable Person

• Characteristic-4: A Therapeutic Person

• Characteristic-5: Detachment And Equanimity

• Characteristic-6: Being A Good Follower

• Characteristic-7: Servant Leadership

• Characteristic-8: Sharing Leadership

• Characteristic-9: Willingness To Delegate Authority

• Characteristic-10: Encourages Leadership In Others


  1. The discussion of the of balance between the masculine and feminine characteristics in a leader is drawn in part from: Susan St. John. Making the Emotional Connection. The Toastmaster 63 (1997):16-18.

Text © by Chris Maser 2010. All rights reserved.

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This article is excerpted from my 1998 book, Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Development. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 235 pp. It is updated in my 2012 book, Decision Making For A Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book, want to purchase it, or want to contact me—visit my website.

If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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