THE BLOG

The Yin and Yang of Balanced Leadership

12/19/2012 05:13 pm ET | Updated Feb 18, 2013
  • Rebecca Shambaugh Leadership strategist; Founder, Women In Leadership and Learning (WILL)

The Chinese concept of Yin-Yang is a wonderful metaphor that beautifully illustrates a balanced, integrated approach to leadership. Yin-Yang describes seemingly opposite forces which are actually complementary and interdependent. In Western society, Yin-Yang is often referred to as "Yin and Yang" and brings to mind simple contrasts such as dark and light, male and female, logic and emotion. But Yin-Yang is much more than mere opposites. Rather, it represents the idea that the interaction of contradictory forces not only creates harmony, but also makes for a greater, more complete "whole."

Although we may not recognize it, we often experience Yin and Yang in business. For example, we talk about the reality of budgets versus the possibility of innovation, or the advantage of adequate analysis versus the pressure of the window of opportunity. Our tendency is to see these as conflicting priorities or divergent goals, when in fact, the integration of these competing ideas will create a natural equilibrium where problems get solved and solutions benefit the greatest good.

Many cultures outside of the U.S. have grounded their leadership theories around the Yin-Yang concept, and perhaps it's time for Western cultures to do the same. If so, what needs to be balanced and what exactly needs to be integrated in this new approach to leadership? It's really pretty simple: gender intelligence.

Gender intelligence relates to the considerable differences in how men and women operate in the workplace -- how they think, lead, communicate, act, react, problem solve, make decisions, negotiate and work together. Men tend to be more competitive, evidence based, results oriented and present focused. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more collaborative, intuitive, empathetic and future focused. Certainly, both men and women can and do possess the traits of both genders, but each gender is geared toward natural tendencies.

The concept of gender intelligence aligns with what I refer to as the Integrated Leadership Model. Integrated Leadership leverages the seemingly opposite traits, skills, and strengths of both men and women. When integrated, the complementary nature of male and female leadership characteristics establishes the synergy that leads to better business outcomes. It takes both men and women, working together in unison, to fully utilize the broad spectrum of gender intelligence and maintain a competitive advantage.

Shambaugh has been doing work around the Integrated Leadership Model for years, and it is the focus of my new book Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results. Just last week I spoke at a conference on the topics of gender intelligence and Integrated Leadership. It's evident from my interactions with executives that organizations are beginning to realize that they can't effectively hit performance goals by using just half of their leadership potential -- neither male-dominated nor female-dominated teams will produce desired outcomes. But a balanced team comprised of men and women creates the Yin-Yang effect that produces optimum results.

Many futurists think that our world will continue to experience complexities that will call for new ways of thinking and leading. Successful organizations of the future will be led by fully engaged, balanced teams of men and women working together. The Integrated Leadership Model represents Yin-Yang leadership for the 21st century.

An integrated leadership team is the new competitive advantage

Make sure your organization knows how to leverage gender intelligence for success now and in the future.

Don't miss Becky's groundbreaking NEW book, Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results. Essential reading for anyone who hopes to lead an organization to greatness, Make Room for Her reveals: what an "Integrated Leadership" model looks like; why the Integrated Leadership approach is powerful and sustainable; how to harness the unique qualities of men and women with an eye toward making sure female employees' talents don't go unnoticed.

Learn more about SHAMBAUGH's upcoming Leadership Programs, Becky's Keynote Offerings, Coaching and their signature Women In Leadership and Learning Program (WILL) by visiting www.shambaughleadership.com.