It’s Called A MAN–ual For A Reason

Have you ever wondered why a manual is not called a “woman”-ual? The other day, one of my clients, a CIO for an international organization needed to vent, a common occurrence with an established client/coach relationship. Her lament was about how when her husband is trying to fix something or put something together, he never pulls out the manual. When the task is not completed and he is scratching his head, she pulls out the manual for him and starts walking through the steps. She asked, “How come he never pulls out the manual?”

I laughed and told her it’s called a manual for a reason and she is not the only woman who has this complaint. My common response is that it is not in his DNA to pull out a manual and went on to explain how men and women are generally wired differently around this issue. I gave her an example of the time period when wooly mammoths were hunted. When hunting the mammoth, there was no manual and the men just had to figure it out. Today, men still want to “figure” it out. It’s their DNA.

Meanwhile, while the men were out hunting, the women, children, and elderly stayed behind in the village cooking, weaving baskets, gathering food, protecting the children and the village, washing, etc. In other words, they were multitasking. Women continue doing what women have done since the beginning of time, multitasking.

Developing the skill of multitasking, a woman in the village can be aware of many issues going on around her. In fact, if a child is wandering too close to a spring river flowing high and fast, it is in the woman’s DNA to be aware of this and prevent the child from falling into the river, most likely. On the other hand, men can compartmentalize well and focus on the task at hand, missing the child wandering too close, yet, when the child falls in and there is a yell and a splash, the man pulls the child out and becomes the hero.

How does this relate to the workplace? Another common complaint I hear from my women clients who are in upper management is that they often see early on an unwanted issue developing and when they present the ensuing crisis to their team, they are often told everything is fine. However, when the crisis they predicted occurs, a peer, usually a man, finds a solution, fixing the issue and is the so-called hero and is often awarded a higher bonus.

What’s the solution? We need both abilities. An organization needs to create a culture where there is an outward mindset and less of an inward mindset. An outward mindset is:

  • When you are looking out at your team members
  • Observing their strengths that you may not have and learning from them
  • It is about appreciating differences and approaches that may be out of your comfort zone
  • Is curious asking questions and pondering over the information
  • Is about removing the inner competition with our peers

Moving toward an outward mindset, we remove the inner competition and create a culture that values input from opposing perspectives. Those who can see a crisis coming before others need to understand how they see this and develop a way to articulate it and share it with their team. In this way, you are developing others with your skill.

A culture that values the outward mindset is aware of the balance between the yin/yang. Holding this yin/yang awareness allows an organization to evaluate risks from a sensible and secure perspective moving calculated risks into opportunities.

Rather than viewing teams members by their gender, it is suggested to identify who brings in the yin energy and who brings in the yang. Developing teams in this manner instills the needed balance many organizations are lacking.

The real estate industry has figured this out. Top real estate producers are yin/yang teams, the female/male teams. There must be something in our DNA to choose a team where the yin/yang is present when purchasing or selling what is for some our biggest asset.

As in the lament about the husband not pulling out the manual, we can see that both the yin/yang were needed to complete the task. Perhaps her husband my have eventually “figured” it out, and maybe not. When she brought in her contribution, the task was completed, allowing time to move on to the next task. Next time you are confounded on figuring something out at home or work, embody the outward mindset and bring in the balancing energy as the synergy of both are better than just one. Organizations who adopt this strategy will improve employee engagement and retention. Let this be your new guiding principle. And, as in the real estate industry, your organization will improve customer and vendor relations.

And remember, Success Starts With You.


Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph. D., International Executive Coach, Psychotherapist is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers), and founder of Success Starts with You. She was recently chosen to receive the Empowered Woman of the Year Award for 2021 given by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). She also received the honor as the top international coach of the year in 2020 by the IAOTP. She provides visionary leadership in her field and her many credentials prove she has the ability to empower women worldwide. Her exemplary role as a female professional in a male-dominated industry displays her influence, capability, and proficiency. Inclusion with the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP) is an honor in itself, only a few women are chosen for this distinction based on their years of experience, professional accomplishments, academic achievements, leadership abilities, and contributions to their communities. With innovation and compassion, these women empower others to reach their goals, while creating change for future generations. With over 2 decades of professional experience as a business coach and psychotherapist, Dr. Fouts has proven herself as an accomplished professional and expert in the field. As a dynamic, results-driven leader, Dr. Fouts has demonstrated success not only as an Executive Business Coach, but in every role she has held. Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for over 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Dr. Fouts leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness and discovering their blind spots. It can be lonely at the top and as a thought partner, she makes sure you are not alone. Dr. Fouts’ unique approach from other business coaches is that she helps get rid of thinking and behavioral patterns that tend to keep executives stuck. Her key areas of expertise include but are not limited to: small business consulting, enhancing emotional intelligence, self-awareness, unlocking fullest potential, brainstorming, identifying limitations, challenges, obstacles and optimizing performance. In addition, her successful career as a Psychotherapist and International Executive Business Coach, Dr. Fouts is a sought-after speaker whose key-note address to Women’s Leadership Conferences is Channeling Feminine Power in the Face of Adversity. Her newly released book, Cognitive Enlightenment, was to be presented at the London Book Fair, March 2020, the NY Book Fair, May 2020, and the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2020 until COVID hit. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder. For more information on Dr. Fouts please visit:

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  1. Most excellent information Dr Fouts! I could not agree more (and the RE industry has certainly figured this out) – we need the strengths of both to find a great sense of middle ground. We all possess inherent traits – and furthermore, we’ve been wired this way for a reason 🙂 … because together we do better, than either alone~

  2. A good read. Though, the dynamics of yin/yang is not balance but constant change. We have heaven, the ideal. We have earth, the reality. There are times our behaviors and communications focus on the ideal and then there are times when they focus on reality. Yin/yang focuses on the different transitions we go through between the ideal and reality.

    • Well said, Chris. A good reminder that everything is in motion and constantly changing. Your input here, is greatly appreciated.

    • Brilliant, Larry. What you experience often many do not. Thanks for you input.