One of the reasons why I left the corporate world was because I was fed up with having to take instruction from men who were driven by power and machismo, rather than the good of the business or the team.
What might a business look like which operated with more feminine than masculine attributes?
People Centric Working
Over the last few months I have been compiling course two (of three) of the Eternal Business Programme. This is a comprehensive online programme for businesses to be structured in order that they have at least a chance of lasting forever. Course two, for owners and management teams, is now live.
A key plank of course two is the People Plan. This consists of eight areas of the business which need to be addressed in order to create a people centric working environment.
I had considerable help in putting this part of the programme together. I owe huge thanks to Kirsty Lynagh of nucleus; Sarah King of Loafspark (previously HR director at the head of Triodos Bank); and two associates of the Eternal Business Programme, Jane Ginnever and Caroline Gourlay.
Notice anything about all the people I came across who are experts in the area of putting people first? Yes, of course: they are all female.
The Feminine Business
This led me to wonder if this might be the theme for a book, with the title of The Feminine Business. It would cover the structure, process and culture that would need to be ingrained in a business in order for it to show the feminine characteristics of empathy, compassion, and nurturing. Surely these are better for business than the typical masculine characteristics of strength, courage, assertiveness.
(Incidentally, in case anyone disagree with these characteristics, they were taken from Wikipedia.)
Of course, this is not to suggest that masculinity is always a bad thing, nor that only businesses with feminine traits will be successful. Given, however, the overwhelming majority of executives who are male, I think it is a reasonable assumption (as well as being my personal experience) that most businesses have a more masculine than feminine culture.
I put this idea for a book to my wife, who responded that she thought it to be a terrible title. She explained that, as most businesses are run by men, they would never buy a book called The Feminine Business. Oh, the irony!
The People Plan
So what sort of attributes am I talking about when describing a ‘feminine business’? A people centric working environment is one that puts its people first.
Don’t all companies put their people first? Well, bluntly, no. I’m talking about genuinely, truly, putting the people first. As Kirsty Lynagh puts it, as most fledgling companies grow, the first non core proposition appointment is the finance director, not the HR director.
The People Plan gives the employees a voice in the business. It does this by looking at specific actions, including:
providing methods for helping understand what motivates people on an individual and team basis;
describing the different approach to leadership that is required;
explaining how to construct a working framework to allow people flourish and gain real fulfilment;
providing an alternative performance review structure.
The Eternal Business Programme guides the leadership team through activities and ideas to create a truly people centric working environment.
A business which truly focusses on its people is likely to be more of a feminine than a masculine business. It is also, it turns out, more likely to be a business that will last – to be an Eternal Business!
Chris Budd sold a majority stake of his financial planning business, Ovation Finance to an Employee Ownership Trust, and now writes and consults extensively on succession planning through his business the Eternal Business Consultancy.
A key part of this is the Eternal Business Programme. Find out more about succession planning in general, and the Employee Ownership Trust in particular, by signing up to the free webinar on March 21st.