We may not want to admit it, but there are a few male traits that make for a smoother ride at work.
It’s not that men don’t feel unsure – they do. But, unlike us, they don’t feel compelled to lay out their insecurities for the world to see. Also, men don’t go on about how the whole team pulled together; they take credit personally. Women tend to make self-deprecating remarks such as “Well, I’ve been lucky” or “I’m not sure whether this is a good idea but here goes.” Career advancement relies on skilled self-promotion – my advice is to practise boasting.
Women’s business coach Christopher Flett runs seminars titled What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business, in which he maintains that women are too process-oriented. We involve everyone and seek endless feedback. Guys focus on the endgame, the goal – and that sometimes means breaking the rules. We good little girls still find it challenging to leave a comfortable process and just get the job done. So try making a few decisions solo or keep consultation to a minimum.
We have bought into the theory that women should be assertive, not aggressive. But have you ever heard a guy being positively referred to as a wonderfully assertive man? It’s time we changed our attitude. Many women secretly worry about being labelled as “ball-breakers,” but the truth is, most of us can dial up the aggressive side and still be very much a woman. To be aggressive is to be willing to take a strong position, draw clear lines in the sand and stop worrying about being liked. Pleasing people is not a recipe for success. You can be aggressive and still treat people with dignity. A hint for upping aggressiveness is to reframe it as showing passion and determination.
Guys may actually feel hurt when criticized, but they are better at letting it roll off their backs. They’re likely to say, “Fair enough, you might not like my idea, but I still think it’s a good one.” Countless times I’ve witnessed men duking it out in meetings. The meeting ends and one guy says to the erstwhile foe, “Wanna go for a beer?” Women would prefer a voluntary root canal to drinks with the “enemy.” That’s because we take attacks personally. We have a tendency to reflect endlessly on being criticized or turned down, chewing on every detail as though it’s all about us instead of our idea. Watch and learn how guys react to criticism the next time you are in a meeting, then try it. Keep repeating, “It’s not about me!”
Women have a lot of natural leadership traits that workplaces want: the ability to include people, to cooperate rather than compete, and to take personal feelings into account. We just need to learn when these are effective and when they’re a hindrance.