Think Outside the “Man Box”

Think Outside the “Man Box”

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Charles Matheus.

Charles is an author, adventurer, soul work mentor, and leadership visionary. He has thirty-five years’ experience as an educator, wilderness guide, nonprofit leader. As an organizational consultant to startups, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies, Charles helps men find meaning, purpose, strength, and compassion in their lives and work.

What was Charles’ dance through life?

Charles hails from the desert mountains of Arizona, so outdoor activities are a big part of his development. When he escaped the heat to attend an Ivy League school, he discovered his tribe – “a bunch of disreputable artists and rock climbers who also loved exploring.” 

In this group, he experienced collaborative leaders who flexed their style based on others’ strengths and weaknesses, and it helped him become that kind of leader himself. During that time, he crafted a career in education, guiding, and group facilitation.  

In his work, Charles found that boys and men alike share the same challenge. They are all conditioned to operate within the “Man Box,” an archaic and limiting definition of masculinity. It turned out Charles was no exception.

 In his first executive role, Charles experienced anxiety and imposter syndrome. Instead of collaboration, he doubled down on command-and-control, distrust, and micromanagement.

 Charles says, “I disrupted my relationships, damaged my credibility, and inflicted harm on my organization’s ability to carry out its mission. It took getting some concentrated transformational coaching and mentoring to craft a leadership relatively free of those anxieties and assumptions. And it took me being brave enough to ask for help from the very people I had harmed and alienated.”

 What is the cost of “Man Box” masculinity?

 Charles points out, “Leadership embedded in the old, outmoded norms of traditional or ‘Man Box’ masculinity is hurting businesses, the employees within them, and the male leaders themselves. A Promundo study estimates that rigid masculine work cultures costs North America and the UK nearly $21 billion per year. And it’s driving employee disengagement, wellness issues, and in some tragic cases, male suicide.”

 Not only is this toxic leadership costly, but it’s outdated.

 “The world is crying out for leaders who can leverage inclusion, pivot gracefully, and support long-term cultural and business sustainability. The old, rigid, top-down leadership model cannot rise to meet the current moment. It inhibits innovation, stifles inclusion, and isolates leaders, often leaving them overwhelmed, demoralized—at risk for business failure, broken relationships, and ill health.”

 The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

 Thinking outside the “Man Box”

 Charles’ book Leadership & Masculinity teaches men a leadership approach based on resilient, sustainable strength. It busts the myths surrounding what a strong leader looks and acts like. Charles’ leadership insight offers male leaders a path to reclaim their full humanity, not the caricature of it contained in the “Man Box.”

 You can find Leadership & Masculinity on Amazon and at, where you can download the first chapter free!

 If you want to learn more about what you can do to support men in becoming the leaders, managers, and people they want to be, watch and listen to our conversation below.

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