Hello SOTGC community,
A recent workshop we held during our National Sales Meeting (attended by 100 people including our entire leadership team) to raise awareness about the differences between the way men and women lead has proven to be more than just another event. For some, it was transformational.
We started out making the case for diversity and citing several studies that show a direct correlation between diverse leadership teams and financial results.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s has noted that women are more likely to attribute their success to help from others, working hard and getting “lucky”, whereas men attribute their success to their own core skills.
Other ways that women show up differently than men that include:
- Minimizing/understating their accomplishments and men exaggerate them
- Less likely to speak up in a meeting—especially when the majority of the people in the room are men. They are also more likely to position themselves at the perimeter of the room or in the back vs sitting at the front of the room
- Less likely to ask for a promotion/raise, and when they do, they ask for 30% less than men
- Applying for a job only when they meet 100% of the job criteria, whereas men applied for the job even if they met just 60% of the criteria (HP study)
- Speaking less declaratively and are more likely to ask questions
- They are often “perfectionists” and less likely to take risks
- Tending to ruminate over mistakes, whereas men shake off mistakes more easily
- Taking work criticism more personally
- Appearing to be less confident/more tentative
Much of this is noted in a book entitled The Confidence Gap by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman as well as in Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. Things got very interesting once participants started talking about their own experience and observations–one of the male District Managers described a female rep whom he managed as “holding back” and shared that she didn’t feel that she was “ready” for a promotion to a leadership role. The female reps helped him understand that she may be saying this because she is a perfectionist. They suggested that he provide more encouragement and reiterate and reinforce his confidence in her ability.
He later wrote me a thank you note, stating “…this experience is going to make me a better father and a better manager… I now see that my role is to empower the women on my team…” He went on to describe his 2 daughters who compete at a very high level in both golf and swimming. He has noticed that although they are both exceptional athletes, they lack confidence when competing. “…I have never understood the reason why…I constantly praise them, but it never seems to stick. When guys are good at something, we let everyone know it. I now have a better understanding why my daughters feel this way. They are focused on what they don’t know or aren’t good at, and are afraid of failure. I am now able to have more in-depth conversations with them and will encourage them to focus on their strengths and to coach them to not let their fear of failure interfere with their confidence…”
His email resonated with me. It was a powerful testimony to the impact these workshops and conversation can have in the workplace. I am proud to work for a company that is committed to developing female leaders. I believe that this type of event will impact our engagement and retention, and assist both our male and female leaders in identifying and preparing more women for leadership roles.
*Note: This is the first in our new guest blogger series that’s specifically designed to help leaders we’ve worked with share the wins, the challenges, and the lessons they’ve learned. And we are incredibly grateful to Kristy Roberts of Medtronic for taking the time to share valuable insights about women in leadership that have made a real impact on the teams at her organization.