Everyone knows I like alphas, strong men. Not patriarchy, but strong men. My father is an alpha, and my partner is an alpha. They both have convictions, lead, and stand up for things they believe in or are wrong. They are not afraid of conflicts and, most importantly, are not scared of expressing their views. Managing them is hard!!!
Unfortunately, I see this less and less in corporations. I still cannot digest a comment I received from a man, a VP of HR, questioning my critiques of HR. I provided a reply to this, but one thing still bothers me. He closed his message with a (paraphrasing) "He is trying to make a change by quietly influencing stakeholders."
The moment I read that, I felt it. My respect for him as a man and as a professional was gone. Reading his comment repeatedly, I thought, "Dude, getting things done through "quiet influencing" is a female trait. I can do that, we don't need men for this tactic because if that's all you can do, move over, women are the masters of this."
Then I thought about it further: where is the line between men playing corporate politics or exhibiting female traits?
Then I remembered all those men, from waiters to VPs and even one COO, who are scared to be men at work. The fear of losing that paycheque stripped them of their male characteristics, and they now play the corporate games as women. They levelled the playing field, and women didn't even have to do anything just to be themselves.
Today, I see men walking around, beaten by the fact that they cannot be men. We told them that achieving results comes from influencing others. We told them how to do this, and as a result, they shut down. Why? Because that's not how men achieve results. They negotiate through hard, sometimes aggressive (not physically) conversations, by pushing back and forth, and sometimes even with soft blackmailing. This is how men keep each other in order. What do men do today? They say, "I tried to speak to ..... but it is what it is. We cannot do anything."
The fear of losing their jobs silences them. They put their head down and do as they are told. This is when you see leaders engaging in illegal activities because their superiors told them to do so for greater profit and don't have the balls to say no.
This is when you hear 40 & 50+ years old men complain about their situation at work for years or decades instead of saying, "Ok, this is crap let me get myself out of here."
This is when you see men sitting around waiting for the company to promote and move them, putting themselves at the mercy of the organisation instead of taking on the adventure of the unknown, leaving and figuring things out for themselves.
I have known a GM for 12 years now who has been complaining since we met. Waiting for Accor to move him, give him the opportunity, to pay attention and care about him. At first, I tried to empathise and even guide him. After five years, I stopped talking to him because he lost all my respect as a man. A man doesn't do this, certainly not my father.
A man says, "Screw you all", and off he goes to build a life he wants and not be at the mercy of anybody. He takes charge and creates. He struggles for the right reason, not for the comfort of a paycheck. He takes pride in his struggle and, in the end, takes pride in his achievements.
If you see men walking around beaten by the system in your organisation, or maybe he is your husband or partner, have that chat with him. Ask how they feel when they cannot be men.
And we wonder why men's mental health is at an all-time low. We don't allow them to be men. We made them behave like women for money. WOW!
It is time men look into the mirror and admit that they are broken by the system. It is time for everyone to look at what we have done to men.
I want to see rebellion in men!
PS: I recognise different personalities and do not expect all men to be alpha. However, this trait and behaviour I describe are innate in all men regardless of their status within the pack/hierarchy.