The DNA of a female manager

Female Manager - Via Shutterstock - The DNA of a female manager
Female Manager – Via Shutterstock

DNA is unique to each individual regardless of gender, age, race and so forth, providing each one of us with ladder-like, one-off instructions on how to grow and function.

Managers, therefore, are also unique, yet there is a tendency to pigeonhole them. When you think of your managers you may think of a good manager, great manager or even a lousy manager. It is refreshing to know that we get the good, great and lousy managers in both genders. Kevin Roberts, the executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi has recently resigned after saying amongst other things, the gender diversity debate was “all over”. He was too quick off the mark; in 2016 it should be over and yet sadly it isn’t.

Woman are still having to fight for their right to be Managers from a junior to the most senior level. The covalent bonds, those little rung-like links that form the backbone of our DNA strands, arguably weaken and snap under the force of such struggles, each time further compromising the inheritable traits women have to offer, and applying useless labels.

This article will not do any justice to the full DNA of a female manager, which of course, is complex. However, one small and yet very significant part to be explored in this piece is the styles in which we communicate, and how they are received by others.

Assertive attitude and Behaviour

If you consider communication to be crucial to success, then the mindset behind this is crucial to delivery. Females often get pigeonholed as being “too soft”, or as being “too aggressive” often followed up with this statement just like their male counterparts. Our own definitions of “too soft” or “too aggressive” is central to the labelling of female managers.

“Too soft” is often being seen as nurturing, caring, possibly even too considerate, in other words, submissive. Being “too aggressive” is often being seen as uncaring, dismissive, angry etc. As a female manager, less consideration must begin given to others’ perceptions of us (we can’t control others’ thoughts), and more to our own motivations and behaviour. This is an internal analysis.

What does the Assertive particle of DNA look like?

One rule of thumb when making and communicating decisions is to consider the following:


Quite simply, being submissive is when you put everybody else’s considerations, wants, wishes and demands before your own. This mindset is a lose: lose outcome.


Aggressive is when you put your own considerations, wants, wishes and demands before everyone else. This is where there is no room for negotiation and often you will not be happy getting what you want; you will also tighten the thumbscrews to ensure the other party is feeling the pain.
This mindset is a win: lose outcome. Win for yourself at all costs and lose for the other party.


Assertive behaviour is based on an assertive mindset. This mindset generally works for both parties. You will work with the party to gain your wants, wishes and demands as well as honouring their wants, wishes and demands. This mindset is a win: win outcome, for yourself and for the other party.
This winning mindset and assertive behaviour is crucial to females’ (and males’) DNA. This is the mindset that drives you forward, and nourishes the bonds that keep your DNA standing strong.

Mindset and behaviour is fundamental to our DNA. Unlike your biological DNA, the manager’s DNA can be changed. Whilst communication and assertive behaviour is a small part of a manager’s DNA, it is absolutely crucial to the success.

About the Author: Margo Manning

Margo Manning

Margo Manning, author of A Step-Up Mindset For New Managers (£14.99 Panoma Press) previously worked in the development arena for over 25 years. In the last 15 years, Margo has been delivering talks as one of the UK’s top Leadership and Management Coaches and Facilitators. Margo is the architect of the 3:2 Management Model and subsequent 3:2 Management Development Programme that is delivered and adopted within many businesses, large and small, nationally and internationally. She has worked, and continues to work, with new managers through to senior managers in companies such as Goldman Sachs, Hobart Lovells, Brunswick Group, Tower Hamlets Homes, Aon, Balfour Beatty, Kantar and many more.

You can find A Step-up Mindset here

Margo Manning’s website can be found here


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