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.