How I benefit from Female Leadership as a man

Commentary on International Women's Day
  • 5 min reading time
  • Press Release

The Stuttgart-based brand agency Von Helden und Gestalten is being managed by a woman. For Wolfgang Seebaß-Jones, Strategy Director & Partner, this is a real stroke of luck.

"I belong to an absolute minority in my industry. Currently, just 12.5 percent of agencies in Germany are run by women. A woman at the top has been self-evident for me for ten years. And at the same time I know that this is not the norm."

Wolfgang Seebaß-Jones
Strategy Director

I realized this again just a few days ago when I attended a presentation on female leadership by my agency boss Verena Mayer. What also became clear to me was how few men talk about this topic. Doesn't female leadership also affect me as a man? Of course it does. But how exactly? This prompted me to take a closer look at my experience over the past few years and ask myself: What has changed and improved in my day-to-day work at an agency as a result of female leadership? Quite clearly: a lot, and it has done me good.

Here are my most important insights.

Female leadership means continuous development

A woman at the top does not automatically mean female leadership. Female leaders deal more proactively with the topic of leadership in order to find and develop their own "female" leadership style. Therefore, the topic of "How do I want to lead and be led" is always present and is actively addressed. This also helps me to develop my own leadership personality much better.


No chauvinistic boss behavior

The client appointment is just over and you're sitting in the car as a junior copywriter, while your agency boss is at the wheel bad mouthing the female marketing staff. Sounds like a bad stereotype, but unfortunately it matched my reality. As well as lewd remarks and cross-border behavior by executives toward female colleagues. Certainly the advertising industry has evolved over the past 20 years, in no small part due to the me-too debates. Anyone who works under a top female executive doesn't have to worry about that at all.


More respectful customer behavior

As an agency that works for many B2B clients, we still have to deal with mostly male-dominated bosses. It makes a noticeable difference whether we come with a female boss or attend appointments without her. It is impossible to say exactly how much respect is shown to their individual leadership personality and how much female leadership plays a role in this. But it definitely makes a difference.


Humanity and tolerance are on the agenda

It is important to know what my employer stands for, what the tone and interaction is like, and what values are practiced. People want to identify with their work not only in terms of content, but also emotionally. That is an important part of my personal motivation. And that's actually how all my colleagues feel. The fact that we have a female managing director who sees the internal corporate culture as a central component of female leadership helps the entire team to deal with their own values and to keep them present in everyday life.


Female leadership is a real plus in the war for talent

The shortage of skilled workers is currently an ongoing topic in business, politics and especially in the communications industry. It's hard to believe that so little is said about the greatest untapped resource, namely highly trained women. Agencies like ours thrive on a strong female-driven team. And because strong women attract other strong women, I benefit not only from a strong female CEO, but also from numerous strong female colleagues in our extended management circle.


Making it easier to reconcile fatherhood and a management position

Being torn between parenthood and job responsibilities doesn't just affect working women. As the father of a 1.5-year-old son, I know the feeling. And it definitely helps that as a father, I don't have to explain myself unnecessarily. It should be normal to be able to talk openly about family issues with your employer. Not to mention the nursery at the agency.


The mental health thing

Talking about dealing openly with sensitive topics. In the day-to-day work of many agencies, "burnout" is still considered an almost unavoidable occupational risk that creative professionals simply have to live with. The motto "If the job is too hard, you're too weak." still haunts our industry. But here I not only have an understanding boss above me, but simply a good person by side.


The fact that I prefer wine to beer is perfectly ok

And what else makes me realize that I work in a female-run agency: when I take a look in the agency drinks cabinet. A few bottles of Kessler are always kept cold here and the usual Friday night beer can be replaced by a nice dry white wine. 

Conclusion: Female Leadership is a Real Opportunity for Men

From my agency experience, I can summarize: Female Leadership affects everyone. Just as the lack of female leadership affects everyone. For men, female leadership and the associated change in leadership culture is a real opportunity, and for me it is absolutely tangible and positive. Because Female Leadership also develops and advances my own leadership style, sees me in my dual role as a leader and father, and generally contributes to a more open work culture in which I enjoy working.

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