Short story about loss and rejuvenation
Programmes and spaces to enable men to share their experiences and master the skills for more authentic relating - benefitting themselves, their colleagues, company and culture.
Narrow notions of masculinity are not just holding people back in their private lives, but also their work lives. After all, what happens in the world also plays out in the workplace. In organisations, a culture can develop where more traditional masculine skills and qualities have become the norm, particularly among men, and leave no space for other ways of being.
The impact of this on employees and organisations is significant. When people feel unable to bring their full selves, their worries or other felt emotions to work, this leads to increased levels of stress, as well as performance and relationship issues.
Leader Brother Son create unique programmes to help men in organisations master skills such as empathy, deep listening, self-reflection and greater sensitivity to the experiences and challenges of others, as well as augmenting management and leadership skills. As men discover how to act more as colleagues rather than competitors, the benefits are not just felt by men, but by the entire organisation.
Before starting his coaching practice, Jindy worked for 18+ years in corporates and startups and observed and experienced first-hand the pressures that narrow masculine ideals put on men in the workplace. What he noticed intuitively is now being recognised in formal studies and research: that when men are compelled to operate in restrictive masculine roles and cultures, performing a narrow ideal of ‘man’, it not only takes a toll on them, but their colleagues and work culture.
Leader Brother Son’s organisational programmes and workshops seek to address this by creating confidential group spaces and programmes to men as a space for sharing and exploration that allow them to bring more of themselves to the workplace.
"Early in my career, I remember speaking to one of my close friends from the office. His dad had been a senior leader in the global corporation that we worked for, working around the world in prestigious roles. My friend told me that his dad, despite being very good at his job, had taken early retirement in his mid-fifties. He’d asked his dad why he’d retired and he’d replied “Because I’m fed up of pretending to be someone I’m not every day. I can’t do it anymore”.
This story was not an isolated one. It took on added significance as I moved through my career inside large organisations, corporations and consulting firms. What I saw over and over again were people - men in particular - who felt they had to ‘perform’ in the office, by discarding or suppressing anything that didn’t relate directly to work: families, friends, hobbies, dreams, fears, anxieties and most of all, their feelings."
Fortunately, this is starting to be acknowledged more widely.
“Men face both self-stigma and social stigma about showing their emotions or talking about their level of anxiety, low mood, and stress. The self-stigma comes from the often-unconscious masculine ideals that have been culturally conditioned and socialized into their narrative of self, or their identity as men.”
(’We Need to Talk About Men’s Mental Health at Work’, Ruchi Sinha PhD, Harvard Business Review 2022)
It is now well known that men make up 75% of all UK suicides. Men are increasingly lonely and less likely than women to form meaningful relationships and maintain friendships, and less likely to talk about their experiences. They are also three times more likely to become dependent on alcohol.
And these are by no means ‘private’ problems. After all, what happens outside an organisation will emerge inside the organisation, in ways that are subtle, hidden or seemingly unrelated. Culture is shaped in part by the roles and identities that people take up, and in turn, this shapes the culture. It is a dynamic process.
So, what’s going on with men? Gender is one of the first identities that we take up early in life, and we do so unconsciously. In adulthood, there is the unconscious playing of the role of ‘man’, which in modern Western society prioritises achievement, competition and dominance at the expense of connection, relationships and collaboration. It is clear to see that only a few might benefit from this.
There is a shift happening. There is now a growing recognition that these narrow notions of masculinity no longer serve men and the wider world. Leaders, organisations and society are seeking a change, a move towards something more whole and healthy for all.
At Leader Brother Son, we believe that when men are able to safely explore and challenge their beliefs, they are able to bring into the light what they have not questioned or felt able to. In group settings, the dynamic can be highly impactful. In participating in this way, several things can happen for men.
First, they are able to examine, often for the first time, their identity and the notion of masculinity that they have accepted without question. Second, they are able to speak freely in real conversations that require courage and radical honesty. Third, in sharing with others over time, a collective sensemaking emerges, a rediscovering of ways of communicating and relating, and a letting go of needing to ‘know’. Lastly, in being part of the group, they find a greater sense of connection and understanding.
Leader Brother Son’s work with organisations brings confidential group spaces and programmes to men as a means for this sharing and exploration. We bring our experience of coaching, group facilitation, dialogue and Council to create a setting that is safe whilst also being challenging.
Culture is not static. We believe that through open dialogue, we can start to question beliefs and behaviours from the inside, so that they better serve individuals and their organisations.