Do Good To Make Good – The Athena Doctrine

Have you noticed a new style business leader taking center stage these days?  There is a new emphasis on qualities we often consider feminine or are associated with women.   The authors, John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio call this new approach, “The Athena Doctrine.” *   I’ve also noted this shift in thinking in trade magazines such as Fast Company and in TED presentations.   

The next generation of leaders arising from the Millennial generation is more empathetic, with a greater capacity to listen and relate to others.  They are more attuned to the fact that all businesses are part of a global ecosystem of partners, customers and suppliers.  They understand this interdependency demands a delicate and careful approach with all their relationships. Millennials view empathy with others as the most direct route to innovation and business growth.  The traditional style of doing business is for executives to see a market and create a product to serve that market.  The more feminine or Athena approach is to begin by understanding a customer’s feelings and their needs in order to develop a means to serving the customer.  This kind of understanding requires immersion into the local market in order to fully comprehend the interaction of a society, its economy and its culture.  Thus, empathy is present at the beginning of every breakthrough innovation in order to discover social needs and for building a deeper customer relationship.  To see this phenomenon in practice, take a look at the web sites Quirky, the crowdsourcing product inventors’ site, and Pinterest, created for designers and crafters of all stripes.  

If you want your business to thrive in today’s hyper-connected world, you need to relate to the world in which your business exists.  When you listen to Millennials talk about what motivated them to launch their latest start-up company, you hear them speak with great passion about doing good to make good.  They emphasize the need not only to be innovative but also to support a sustainable planet.  Loyalty and selflessness, which are considered feminine, repeatedly trump pride, which is seen as masculine, in surveys of this new generation of leaders.  They aim for collaboration and inclusion with a focus on contributing value to society rather than extracting value from it. 

Where we have come to expect short-term planning and reactive decision making on the part of our most familiar leaders, in industry as well as in government; this new cadre of leaders appear to have taken a lesson from the failures of our recent past.  Millennials frequently express their decision making in terms of the long term.  They see themselves as future builders as opposed to simply taking care of the present. 

For Millennials there is no separation between making money and philanthropy.  Their philosophy is you should be able to create a business that can simultaneously do both; and thereby, make the owner and the employees feel good about their contributions.  Let’s hope that this more holistic view, harmonizing of feminine and masculine traits catches fire, heralding a bright future for us all.

* “The Athena Doctrine, How women (and the men who think like them) will rule the future,” by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio

Beverly Maddalone is a Marketing Professional with extensive experience in communications and information technology.  Her career spans more than 20 years with 4 Fortune 500 Companies, where she served in a variety of product and marketing management leadership roles.  Her prime focus is guiding business owners of all stripes through the process of designing and implementing marketing strategy.  She is a strong believer in the transformational power of social media for achieving success in today’s marketplace.  A native of New Jersey, Beverly now makes her home in Tucson, AZ.  In addition to her business writings, she blogs regularly about desert living from the perspective of a Jersey Girl.  Her personal mantra is “Authenticity +Transparency = Loyalty.”