Are you keen to get ahead? Then you know it’s not easy. Sometimes it seems a lot easier for men, and you may feel like women have to work twice as hard and be twice as good.
Let me tell you that it isn’t just you. Many women feel the same. I believe that is because men and women are different, and organisations are designed for men.
Our brains, psychology and hormones are different. Furthermore we grow up in a society that has different norms for men and women. As a result we behave differently and are motivated and inspired differently. Asking women to be successful in an organisation designed for men is like asking a fish to climb a tree. It’s exhausting, and you have to grow arms and gills in the process.
I suggest you do it differently. Why not look at the strengths women bring, and build on those? That is Gender Smart working. Here are four ways to help you get started.
Speak Up about your way of working
Men and women are different, we can do the same jobs and achieve the same but we often go about it in a different way. The way women work tends to be more intangible; it’s about facilitating, involving others and subtle influencing and can be less visible. Therefore you need to speak up about your way of working.
- Evaluate how you achieve results. Once you know, communicate your approach to your team and your manager. Once the job is done recount which results you have achieved and how they came about.
Be aware of how you bring value and..speak up about it
Women’s brains are more connected than those of men. As a result men tend to focus on one task, whereas women tend to look at the big picture and for instance see connections with other projects or impacts on clients. This can be hugely valuable as it breaks through silo-thinking, leads to better decisions and eliminates unnecessary tasks.
Women tend to have a consultative style of working, asking, ‘What do you think?’. Men tend to have a more directive style, ‘This is what we will do’. A consultative style draws in a range of expertise, leads to more buy-in and more resilient decisions.
- Reflect on how you bring value. Are you good at seeing the bigger picture, do you have a consultative style? Observe how your strengths bring value to your team and help you achieve results. Once you know, it will be easier to speak up about your achievements and build your profile.
Relate to What Works for Men
When you talk about your way of working, and how you bring value, it’s important that the men you work with can hear you. Make sure you relate to their priorities and interests.
- Bring short messages; the focussed male brain usually prefers short pieces of information, relating to one topic.
- Focus on end-results.
- Present information in data, graphs and images.
How to Make it Work for You
Of course we are all individuals, and you are not like other women. The man you are working with is not like other men either. So there isn’t one answer to how to get ahead.
Being Gender Smart is all about applying gender differences to you and your situation, and trying out what works to help you get ahead.
Inge Woudstra works with organisations on female talent management, and specialises in gender difference at work. Inge runs Gender Smart training programmes for leaders, managers and women.
Inge is the author of the new book ‘Be Gender Smart – The Key to Career Success for Women’ and Director of W2O Consulting & Training.
Vanessa Vallely, founder of WATC writes in the preface of Be Gender Smart, “Upon reading this book I have been reminded of so many key points that are important in my own journey…I believe that as women we should celebrate the gifts God gave us…These skills build businesses and are something we should be proud of.”
Get your copy here.