03/24/2015 04:47 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2015

Should Women 'Man Up' At The Office, Or Does Office Culture Need To 'Man Down'?

How should a woman try to get ahead in a male-dominated workplace? Perhaps the answer lies less on women "manning up" and more in how businesses value their employees.

Many women confront this tension as they navigate their own upward trajectories in fields where men fill the upper ranks. For some, attempts to convey a vision yet avoid perceptions they are "bossy" or "bitchy" are all too familiar. With only 14.6 percent of executive officer positions belonging to American women, there's no question the workplace could be doing more to extend a welcoming hand to their female workers.

So argues Dana Theus, the founder of InPower Women and InPower Consulting, Inc., who told HuffPost Live on Tuesday that offices are in need of "moving from an either-or kind of culture to a both-and culture" in order to best foster all types of female leadership.

"Collaboration is very valuable, but sometimes being really decisive is also really valuable. Having a culture that not only understands the whole person [but understands] that leadership... is more about being situation-appropriate and about taking advantage of what everyone is bringing to the table," she explained. This, Theus says, is more useful than focusing on simply "the way we are" as individuals, or as men and as women.

Such addresses the conundrum women often face when attempting to convey their skill and commitment -- and whether to appear fervent and aggressive, or subtle and agreeable.

"When you have a culture that really invites everybody to be who they are and bring their best to the culture and do their best for the business, you're going to have a different kind of success. You're going to have a different kind of culture where everybody feels welcome," Theus said.

"It's not easy to accomplish and it's not about manning up or down. It's about doing what you need to be doing at any point in time to be succeeding and knowing what success means to you."

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    A young woman works as a warper on a power loom at the King Philip Mills, Fall River, Massachusetts, 1916.
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    Women workers in a garment factory, Vermont, circa 1915.
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    A group of women focus their attention on their work while employed by the Gibson Art Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, ca.1910s.
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    Women operate the new stretching machine for surgical dressing at the Red Cross headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1915. The machine, which was invented by Milton Griffith, can stretch 28 bolts of gauze in one day.
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    A group of chorus girls at the annual charity reception and dance held by the Ladies' Auxiliary of St Vincent's Hospital at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, circa 1915. From left to right, Priscilla Mitchell, Dorothy Adrian, Temploe Joyner, Dorothy Kane, Dorothy Scully, Kathleen Kevin, Mary Lembeck, Helen McManus and Ruth Thompson.
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    A woman working in a munitions factory during World War One, aiding the war effort whilst the men are away, USA, circa 1914-1918.
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    A young woman works as a harness maker at the American Linen Company, in Fall River, MA, 1916.
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    A thirteen-year-old girl (identified only as Mary) works with her aunt as they make flowers in a tenement room, New York, New York, 1911.
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    View of women factory workers seated at their work stations while operating machines to polish lenses, during the early twentieth century.
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    29th May 1919: Women rivet heaters and passers on ship construction work in the Navy Yard at Puget Sound, Seattle, Washington.
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    Female American college students working on a farm, as replacements for men called up to the military in World War I, USA, May 1918.
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    Women of the Sarah Caswell Angell chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, engage in war work activities to assist the Allied cause during World War I, 1918. During their sessions, they knit, make hospital garments, sew for French children, and make aviators' vests.
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    A woman machine operator working with a cutting tool at an aircraft factory during World War 1.
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    Working women aiding the war effort in World War One; Agnes Kelley, Blanche Chegnon, Marie Provencher, Nina Hosington and Mary Tully, all from Lowell, Massachusetts, 1917.
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    A woman working in an American aircraft factory, 1917.
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    'Farmerettes' help collect funds to supply milk for babies in France during World War I, circa 1918. From left to right, Mable Standley, Helen Gates, Mary Kelly, Anna Robinson, Lottie Vernon and Florence Martin.
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    A member of the Women's Land Army of America plows a field, with a plow drawn by two horses, California, 1917.
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    Women out picking cotton, USA, circa 1910.
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    Students at Barnard College participate in a botany class at the college's greenhouse, ca 1915.