“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”—Beyoncé

So, why is so much of the business advice for women out there to…..well…..act like a man?

I’ve heard stories of Law firms where women are instructed to dress more like men, lower the pitch of their voice, and avoid being giggly if they want to progress in the firm and be taken seriously for partnership.

Think of Miranda in Sex & The City and her struggles. If only men were encouraged to explore their feminine side in the workplace and look to being more collaborative, relational, and empathic there could be an even playing field. Oh and I’m not saying it’s true of all men or their fault.

Sadly, the point I wish to make is that to get ahead in the workplace, women still have to suppress their feminine side.

In the last 25 years we’ve tried and tried to act like men. I can think back to the 80’s, during my years in advertising when female managers wore pantsuits, short haircuts and shoulder pads.

Today, our definition of what constitutes a power suit may have changed, but the power imbalance remains largely the same. Some firms view women as too accommodating, apologetic and too nice to hold down a senior position.

Yet I can’t blame every man because from an early age we are socialised into what leadership should look like. It’s traditionally male behaviours that are favoured such as tough-mindedness, competitive aggression and good decision-making, which both sexes are equally capable but it’s the lack of tolerance for sensitivity, empathy and emotions.

Back in the early 1990’s I had my second career change into retail for a London high end jeweller. It was there that I experienced such gender inequality having to wear a purple uniform (gold buttons positioned right over my nipples), and overlooked for any managerial roles. However, what brought me to tears was learning that my male colleague received a pay rise, earning almost double what I was earning and we were both at the same level.

The cost for women is hiding their true authentic self to get ahead, but even with all the effort, sadly there’s no guarantee that acting this way will get you ahead.

Did you know that women-led startups make more money? Or that companies with more women in leadership achieve greater innovation? That’s because what women can bring to the workplace are qualities such as risk-awareness, relationship focus, holistic problem solving, and to focus on meaning and purpose.

What can you do?

Ladies! We must first focus on what unconscious beliefs are stopping us from stepping up?

To become a leader, and leader for generations of women is to stop competing and start empowering other women. Be a true role model for other women on how to be supportive, open, honest and collaborative because another little piece of us dies every time someone advises us to just man up.

If you would like to learn how to embrace your feminine leadership, Women’s Mindset & Empowerment Coach Anne McKeown will be guest speaker at my Women’s Success Circle event at the Raddison Blu Hotel Sydney on Sunday 27th October 2-4pm.

Anne will be sharing leadership concepts such as teamwork, empathy, intuition and communication, and how feminine leadership is not about being the best, but recognising your unique feminine traits so you can be your best.

Tickets are now on sale through Eventbrite

Fiona Craig is an NLP practitioner & life coach, psychotherapist, business women's success circle, life coach sydney, life coachingmentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.

Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.