We all probably remember the best selling book, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. It hit the book shelves in 1992 and has since exploded into one of the most well known resources dealing with relationships and communication between men and women. Dr. John Gray has built a media empire based on the idea that men and women are different. We perceive things differently, see things differently, communicate differently and in fact, in most every area of life there are differences in the way men and women behave.
This is also true in owning and managing businesses. I have the pleasure of working with very talented men and women business owners in my coaching practice. I have come to recognize some common characteristics of men and women owners that I would like to speak about. Theses will be generalities because clearly not all men or women will exhibit all of these traits.
Men tend to be more focused on results and the bottom line. There is usually a lot less drama and personality conflicts in offices and companies run by men. Loyalty is measured by how hard a person works, the number of hours they clock and willingness to do extra work. For the most part, men owners and managers do not openly communicate their appreciation for these very qualities that they value. They believe that their employees will just know they are doing a good job if they keep their jobs and get periodic raises. This can lead to problems because our employees need to be told when they are doing a good job and given regular feedback about ways to improve job performance. Most men tend to think they communicate effectively and are surprised when I conduct 360 evaluations of the team that indicates something different.
A true leader communicates well and often. They give both praise and constructive instruction. The team needs to know that the owner is concerned about them personally and has the employees’ interest high among their goals for business success. This is one of the key areas I work on with men owners and managers; better communication skills. We, men, don’t feel comfortable sharing feelings and many grew up not getting a lot of positive feedback from our male role models. It was not seen as necessary and the only feed back many men get or give is in a corrective manner. Take time to give positive feedback to your team and family and watch what happens. In fact, your coach has a homework assignment for you. I want you to give one unsolicited, unexpected praise to everyone on your team and at home each day for two weeks. I guarantee you will see a dramatic change in both places. A great book to assist in this is Whale Done by Kenneth Blanchard.
Women business owners, on the other hand, are much more focused on the atmosphere of the workplace and relationships of the employees and staff. While men can be too standoffish, women can allow way too much outside interference and personal conflicts to affect the workplace. Unnecessary energy is spent dealing with petty issues that should not be a part of a professional organization. The work rules and procedures can also be allowed to be violated too easily and randomly to fit “emergency” situations.
I have to work with my women business owners and managers to understand that no one benefits from too loose of a work environment because the leadership comes into question. This leads to people testing the limits and pushing boundaries. With my women owners I help to develop leadership qualities that are fair but uniform and firm. A great book to develop these traits is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell. In every organization or relationship we need to know what the rules are and that they are not going to be changed randomly. This leads to confidence and stability which is a fundamental need of all people.
There are, of course, other differences between men and women owners and managers but these are some of the most common. In future articles I will be talking about more leadership strategies and techniques.