Entrepreneur, Speaker, bestselling author, and founder of The Guinea Group of Companies. For over 15 years, Anton has helped leaders move their teams to become psychologically safe, physically safe and overall better versions of themselves.
Being a Man
Being a Leader
Being real, open and vulnerable
Recently, I was asked by the amazing Annette Densham, from The Audacious Agency, about what is like being a ‘man’. It made me think about some deep issues and ideas, and to respond honesty and frankly.
Watch the interview now, with a complete transcript below.
AD: Tell me about contemporary masculinity?
Anton: I feel like the term masculinity used to have a connotation of physical strength, though in our contemporary world, masculinity is about strength of character, strength of commitment and strength of care factor. Strength to character is about being legal, moral and ethical, strength of commitment is about everything from honouring your big commitments like wedding vows to your daily decisions and doing what you say will do, and strength of care factor (the big one) is about caring for other humans, and the impact that you have on them (understanding that your behaviour has consequences, and you are responsible for it).
A long winded answer – the summarised version is that it is about having emotional fitness and emotional control.
From a leadership perspective, it is simply about ‘not being a bully’.
AD: What does it mean to be a man?
Anton: It means to live in a way that you will leave a legacy and be remembered as ‘he was a good man’. Being good means being aware of your values, and living them. Values of integrity (honest and moral), loyalty (to others) and dependability (can be counted on). The biggest thing about what being a man means, in my humble opinion, is how you are described by women. Ask a woman about you, and see what she says … that will tell you if you are doing ‘man’ well. Being a man means that you treat females like the princesses that they deserve to be treated like (whilst being strong of character, commitment and care factor, of course).
And, to demonstrate this – my wife of 26 years and I raised our two boys with 2 life rules. One was ‘As you are growing up, get adults to like you” (build people skills), and two was “Treat women like princesses”. The succeeded at number one, we hope that they always succeed at number two 😊!
I still open the car door for my wife, and don’t swear around her. That is just the right thing to do.
PS – of course it is different in a professional setting, where the treatment of women is as simple as the same respect you would show anyone else (if not higher).
And, you may like to print this (or not), the preference in our business is to hire women – I know, abit controversial … our best hires has been women, and our business manager is Allison – been with the business for eight years. And, she rocks!
From a leadership perspective, it is simply about ‘leading by example, and demonstrating behaviour that is important to you – consistently’.
AD: How do we help men find their places in this ever changing world? And, how do we help them cope with challenge and change.
Anton: So, men are famous for the ‘mid-life crisis’. They have more suicides than women, and they don’t talk about their feelings (traditionally). We help men find their place in the world and to deal with challenges simply by being better men, around other men. Let me explain. My take on the issue of men not sharing their feelings is simply – the men that they want to share then with are not good listeners … if men were better listeners, men would become better communicators.
Men need to be role models for other men. Our boys are looking at us for an example of what is ‘right’ and for how they should behave.
Finding your way in the world is about dealing with daily challenges and struggles, and it is hard to do life alone. Get a group, get a team, and get a network of other men who care about others, and watch your world change! I’ve got great men around me, and it makes all the difference.
From a leadership perspective, it is simply about ‘understanding the changing work place, and adapting to it’.
AD: What are the things that make it hard to be a man in this age? Why is it a minefield?
Anton: The things that make it hard are our upbringing. And, society changes. Most men over about 40 years of age, were brought up in an era were sexuality was not talked about, and kids were bullied if they struggled with their sexuality or their gender. Previous generations have got a lot to answer for, though I would not like to tell them that 😊 … The society changes that have occurred over the last say 5 to 10 years has created a minefield of what is ‘politically correct’, ‘what you can say and can’t say’ and what is ‘professional’. The women’s equality movement has rightly gained momentum, and in a perfect world, we would not have to talk about equality, as we would all be seen as humans – we are not there yet, and probably won’t ever be. Men have to change their belief systems about society, about sexuality, about gender and about correctness. And, that is ok. The world is changing, men have to change. To me, the world man is a verb, not a noun, and it is about doing and becoming, not resting and resisting. Change your beliefs, get an LGBTI friend, that will help you understand life for others, and about all care for other humans.
From a leadership perspective, it is simply about ‘knowing it is a minefield, and being willing to move forward, even if there are mines out there – you might step on a few, though have the right intent, and care for others, and you can’t go wrong’.
AD: How do we all benefit from a gender equal society – is that possible?
Anton: We will all benefit from a gender equal society … and I think it is possible, though still a while off. There should be more women on boards, in leadership and in traditionally male dominated roles. Gender shouldn’t matter, what should matter is ability to do the work, and quality of work. In our office, we try to take gender out of any discussion or commentary, as we are all human, and everyone deserves respect and care factor treatment. We will benefit from gender equality because one we can stop talking about it as a society (and we will know we have achieved something great) and two we will be better off due to the feminine energy that will be more part of society, and that will help men become better men, by showing us how real care factor leadership happens.
PS – my own experience is the best clients I have ever worked for (and deeply, deeply respect) have been women.
From a leadership perspective, it is simply about ‘accepting everybody for who they are’.