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  • Writer's pictureLesley Gold

Cue the tears: Men tap into their emotions and a new kind of leader emerges

Is it a watershed moment or have men hit peak performative authenticity in leadership?

Politicians know the value of turning on the waterworks. It gets emotional in the White House as many presidents, from Eisenhower to Obama, have shed at least one tear. And former House Speaker John Boehner made it rain.

“For men, it is a sign of compassion. For women, it's a sign of weakness. It’s the double standard that worries me,” Democratic strategist and ABC News consultant Donna Brazile noted in 2010, at the height of Boehner getting in touch with his emotions.

That’s likely why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi keeps her emotions in check. What woman wants the media deluge that tears can bring? Just ask former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder and Hillary Clinton about how crying in public worked out for them. While it may have been another time, the dichotomy remains: Women don’t have the luxury to show emotion.

But men still can — and do — tap into their emotions. However, recent events point to the power of performative authenticity. By dramatically manipulating their emotions to appear more human, men are taking their EVRYMAN outdoor retreats to the street. HyperSocial CEO Braden Wallake can post his feelings about company failure, loss and grief on LinkedIn. Dan Price, once called “Robin Hood” by retired wrestler and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, emoted endlessly on social media about inequality, mental health and gender parity until his recent resignation from Gravity Payments after allegations he raped a woman he lured through Instagram. And the possible “Howard Stern of the Business World” Scott Galloway dives deep into his personal life, believing his vulnerability gives him a distinct competitive advantage.

“You fight the enemy with the weapons they can’t use,” he told The New York Times.

Galloway’s powerful observation reinforces a clear shift, that emotion now belongs in a man’s arsenal of business acumen. Between confrontations with tech leaders and investment advice, the podcaster dares to share personal vignettes, giving listeners his takes on family, adversity and loss. Under the cover of a business talk show, Galloway breaks through by busting men’s perceived notions of weakness.

What a fabulous, authentic, and most definitely rich, life he does lead. He’s the anti-Oprah, yet follows her playbook by offering his listeners the permission to have feelings. But he does share the former talk show host’s omnichannel earning potential, as his emotions propel him to the top of the podcast charts, consultations with Netflix and possibly on to yet another TV deal.

Let me get emotional

Here are a few emotions many women can ascribe to yet another striking double standard: Anger, confusion, contempt, disappointment and distress. Since society weaponizes women’s emotions, we can’t use them, yet “being emotional” is what makes everyone compassionate and colorful human beings. See Wallake’s followup LinkedIn post as Exhibit A, but only for this piece, as there are countless other examples as of late.

The “overly emotional” or “highly sensitive” stereotype stunts a powerful leadership style from a woman’s skill set. While women face constant pressure to remain levelheaded, their counterparts can demonstrate range worthy of an Academy Award — provocative, bombastic, teary, sarcastic and empathetic, often in one interaction.


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