I’m a woman who has spent most of my career working with other women. And now, spending some of my time at Cojourneo, I am working with three men. I like it. Not that there is anything wrong with working with mostly women. I like that, too. Neither work styles are right or wrong. Neither are better or worse. The point is – they are different.
Now you may ask, why have I worked with mostly women? With the exception of my first two jobs out of college, it seems that the fields I have worked in were women centric. I did public relations in the fashion world – mostly women. I opened a PR/Marketing agency – mostly women. I started Women’s Leadership Exchange – 99% women. Now, I am helping to launch an Internet start-up – mostly men.
Before I attempt to explain my experience in working with men and women, I must preface this by saying, this is personal. Anything I say may not be true in the general work-o-sphere. It’s just been true for me, and it’s based on only a few months of working with men. I could write an entirely different blog a year from now. Though I hope not. If you disagree with my blog, feel free to write comments. If you agree, I’d like to hear from you, too.
Here’s how it’s been different for me:
- Collaboration. Men are collaborative. This definitely sounds like a lie, because I never really thought men were good at collaborating. I have always thought that women are the best collaborators. The men I am working with collaborate really well. We work together easily and effortlessly. No ego. No ownership. We just get the job done.
- Listening. Some men actually do listen. Can I possibly be saying this? I never thought that was true. The guys in our group really listen. At least I think they do. Everyone gives each other a chance to speak. No interrupting. I love my husband, but he rarely hears what I say. Maybe that’s because I’m always talking to him while he’s watching sports.
- Goal-focused. In our meetings we decide what our goal is for the week, and we all go for it. I guess women do that, too.
- Just do it. Men have a discussion, make a decision on what actions need to be taken and get it done quickly. I could be wrong, but doesn’t it seem that women do a lot of thinking and talking about things, researching and then finally make a decision? In my experience it seems that way. There’s nothing wrong with doing things that way. It’s just different.
- Mistakes. Women worry a lot about making mistakes. We beat ourselves up if we discover we made one. Guys forget about it quickly and move on. Mistakes seem to be acceptable. Women try to get everyone to agree before taking action. If we can’t get them to agree, sometimes we give up on the idea. Men don’t do that. Women want everything perfect. Then we tie it up in a perfect, big red bow and present it. I know I am right about this one. After all, I like to tie red bows myself.
- Risks. Men follow their gut. Some women follow their gut, too. Often I see women not trusting their own intuition. When someone disagrees with them, they sometimes trust that person’s gut more then their own. On the other hand, some women stubbornly refuse to try something new, preferring to continue to do things the old way that used to work, but doesn’t anymore. I’m sure some men do this, too. This is no way to run a business.
The truth is men and women’s brains are wired differently – which explains why we each tend to operate differently. Enlightened men and women are learning the best styles of leadership from each other. In the future, we may discover that we are more alike than different.
To conclude my ramblings, I’d like to suggest three possibilities of why my experience in working with men has been a positive one.
One, Cojourneo has a values-based leadership style that brings out the best in everyone – men and women. Two, men and women are already becoming more alike in business. Three, perhaps I like working with guys because I have more testosterone than I used to. It happens to all of us eventually, girls.