The Athena Doctrine | John Gerzema

Summary of: The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future
By: John Gerzema


In a rapidly transforming world, it’s time to re-examine the values that guide leadership and innovation. In ‘The Athena Doctrine,’ John Gerzema argues that traditionally feminine traits such as empathy, collaboration, and humility are essential to forging a new global economic landscape. Drawing from a wealth of data and real-life examples spanning various countries, the book identifies the Athena values and demonstrates their power to drive positive change. Learn how embracing these qualities has significant implications for reshaping industries, improving social welfare, and fostering a more sustainable, prosperous future.

The Power of Feminine Traits

The 2008 economic crisis was a turning point that shifted people’s perception of traditional masculine behavior. Regardless of origin, respondents associated feminine traits such as empathy, communication, and cooperation as essential for navigating the emerging economic landscape. The majority believed that a feminine influence could create a shift towards fairness, trust, and a decline in scandals and wars. This era of mistrust requires leaders to focus on contributing value to society instead of extracting it. However, there is still a significant lack of female representation in government and business. The studies suggest that companies with women in their board of directors have outperformed male counterparts by 26%, and female-run hedge funds outperformed their male-run counterparts for nine consecutive years. Feminine practices can lead to happiness and success in various industries, proving that the power of feminine traits in leadership cannot be underestimated.

Athena’s Principles of Productive Leadership

The ancient Greek goddess Athena embodies the essential qualities of productive leadership, including connectedness, humility, candor, patience, empathy, trustworthiness, openness, flexibility, vulnerability, and balance. These traits are not gender-specific; they should be embraced by everyone. By adopting Athena-based principles, organizations can create a more flexible, collaborative, and creative workplace. A leader who approaches tense situations with empathy and kindness can save lives. Feminine values should have a place in today’s workplace and can positively influence every aspect of leadership, management, and innovation.

The Athena Leadership Style

The Athena leadership style prioritizes empathy, collaborates with stakeholders, and focuses on building a strong future. Rather than serving their egos, Athena leaders prioritize the organization’s vision and purpose. They value purpose over financial gain and seek input from every level of their organization. This leadership style exhibits traits that are often considered feminine and values transparency, honesty, integrity, and fairness. Athena leaders embrace failure as part of the creative process, show vulnerability, and encourage learning and adaptation by listening and communicating. The Athena-style leadership is emerging globally and tackling social, economic, technological, and regulatory problems.

WhipCar: Turning Cars into Money-making Machines

WhipCar is a car-sharing site founded by Vinay Gupta and Tom Wright that revolutionizes car ownership by allowing owners to rent out their cars when not in use, generating additional income. The site acts as a mediator between car owners and renters, providing insurance for a fee. However, establishing trust between the parties is a significant challenge. To build trust and ensure responsible behaviour, the founders incorporated a human element into their business model by encouraging face-to-face meetings, where renters feel an obligation to drive responsibly. By taking advantage of emerging social trends and technological advances, WhipCar has environmental benefits by cutting down on carbon emissions and manufacturing waste. This platform allows younger generations to steer away from traditional status symbols that their parents sought, and contribute to reducing their carbon footprint simultaneously.

Iceland’s Female-Led Response

Iceland’s response to the 2008 economic crisis is an outstanding example of how feminine qualities can take economies out of deep waters. Iceland’s three major bands suffered from debt that was eight times the nation’s GDP. However, the country’s decision to elect female leaders to power, and the leadership of women protesters to bring attention to the “male excess” that caused the problems, helped them out of the crisis. The new administration increased spending on social programs and repaid Icelanders via a deposit-guarantee program and devaluation of their currency. They adopted a new constitution generated with the help of 1,000 citizens picked at random, with a council overseeing the process live via social media. Feminine qualities such as harmony, security, and happiness were at the forefront of the document.

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