I have worked with many women. For, and most recently with. far more women than men. I was, in fact, inclined to write a book on the subject; a man’s view of the women he has worked with. I still may. My interest in the different approaches, skills and opportunities actually inspired me to establish the3rdi magazine for professional women. Some may say, perhaps with some justification, that this interest is something of an obsession. Not the word that I personally would use but the sentiment is recognised.
While building the community for the magazine, arranging interviews and discussing issues, something that I did not expect has become abundantly clear to me – it’s not about gender, it’s about attitude.
It is from this perspective that a great light has shone. Successful people are successful irrespective of gender. I accept that there may be personal, political and social issues that specifically effect women more than men but this is not my point. My point is that the same traits lead to popularity, success and achievement for both sexes as do those for misery, loneliness and an unfulfilling life.
What underpins these traits is attitude. Values, if you will.
I have heard it said that women have a greater propensity towards nurturing and sharing whereas men are more inclined to personal achievement and competition. I can only say that this may be generally true but is by no means universally true.
I have met women entrepreneurs that are equally self-motivated, if not more so, than many men. This underlying requirement for self promotion materialises in a myriad of ways; taking more than they give, claiming credit for ideas that belong to peers or employees, using group or collaborative projects for their own, specific ends. They display the traditional “male” traits of “pulling up the ladder” and of beating down the competition.
I have also worked with men that have a distinct and overt sensitivity and a generous, humble nature. They freely give their time, energy and ideas to teams and groups without any requirement for personal publicity or gain. They create products and projects that are specifically aimed at “the greater good” irrespective of class or gender. They introduce terms of contract or business that genuinely seek a “win-win” and are open and honest with their communications.
I think my point is made.
So if attitude is not gender-specific and we all have the same capacity to think and behave then it is a natural conclusion to assume that “bad” behaviour is just as gender non-specific as is “good” behaviour.
Values are both personal and universal and are irrespective of role and gender.
Behaviour is inextricably linked to our values and values indisputably influence our core thought processes and belief systems. Essentially our attitude is the result of our values and beliefs and our behaviour flows from these.
Do men and women, then, have distinctly different values or just distinctly different behaviour? Well I guess that’s a question that we can only answer on an individual basis but for the record my thoughts are as follows:
• Authenticity. If you are inauthentic then gender is irrelevant. Authenticity can be described as undisputed credibility, the state of being genuine and of being not false. Authenticity is the cornerstone of values because it is the perpetual display of how you “walk your talk” or not. Authenticity is an absolutely personal issue; you decide at every moment whether to be authentic or not. You do, not anyone else or any situation
• Trust. If you want to be trusted then you have to trust. You may make mistakes along the way but it is only your own fault if you choose not to learn from these experiences. Learn and move on. If you are known as not being trustworthy it is undoubtedly because you have acted in an untrustworthy manner in the past. This too you can change.
• Honesty. I am sure that this needs no explanation. In the end, if you are dis-honest you will be found out. It is only a matter of time and the only remaining issue is how you choose to deal with it and how you behave in the future. Your call.
There are more core values that influence attitudes but I hope that the above provides pertinent substance to my opinions.
Values are not gender-specific.
Attitude is not gender-specific.
There is, however, one area that I do feel that men and women differ, at least ostensibly, and that is in communication.
It is in this area that I do take the liberty of generalisation but in a general attitude of listening and sharing I have found that women tend to be more effective.
In my experience women, both within and without the business environment, display a greater propensity to talk about more things to more people, more deeply and, dare I say it, more often. This innate ability to communicate freely is a huge differentiator that unfortunately goes largely under-valued.
If we accept that we all “think, act, do” then the major difference in how others interface with us, and so our attitudes, is by our ability to and methods of communication.
In this respect I urge two things; that men learn how to do it better and that women teach us. Oh, and I do accept that learning requires listening and listening is a part of the art of communication (and it is an art although techniques and skills can most definitely be passed on) so this is the best place to start.
I have never learned anything new when I was the one talking.
Attitudes, to success, failure, learning, sharing and growing are not gender specific. They are, however, very specific and personal to every single individual and because of this they are completely within our compass to develop and display.
I personally have no time for a bad attitude and am particularly repelled by in-authentic individuals whatever their gender. I love to be inspired and what inspires me most are those people that have no hidden agenda, are clearly trying to the best for more than just themselves and who are passionate about giving.
These individuals are both men and women. It is their values and attitude that inspires me not their personal wealth or public profile.
What about you? What is your attitude?