In the business world, there are many factors pushing for more gender equality in the workplace. While women often enter the business field at the same rate of men, there are fewer women at each level of company hierarchy, until just a tiny fraction of C-suites are occupied by women.
Research has clearly shown, however, that businesses with an equal number of male and female executives are more nimble, more responsive, and more successful overall than their more dramatically skewed competition.
So what do women do differently in the workplace that helps their companies succeed? Acknowledging that the following statements are based on generalizations, and that individual men and women have different and unique skillsets, let’s take a look at some of the ways women operate differently in the world of business.
1. Men are spontaneous decision makers; women are more considered
For all that women have a reputation for going with their gut, studies have shown that they are more likely to consider a wide variety of factors when making decisions. They are more likely to gather opinions from team members, supervisors, and partners, weigh a number of factors, and then make a considered, logical decision.
Men, on the other hand, are more likely to go with their gut and make a quick choice. This tends to mean that they take bigger risks. Those risks can pay off, but they can also hinder a business if the risk doesn’t pan out.
2. Men see failures, women see opportunities
When something doesn’t work out with a business, men tend to leap immediately to the post-mortem. What went wrong, what mistakes were made, how could this have been avoided.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to look at what parts of the business have survived and look for ways to build them into a new, more successful business. This is also true on a smaller scale; women have often been raised on the idiom of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” and so they are more likely to dig in to a failure and look for an opportunity to improve, do better, and set up a new chance for success.
3. Men see hierarchies, women see relationships
In terms of organization, men tend to be very aware of the hierarchies. They know who their team members are, who their supervisors are, and they are often very focused on who reports to whom and who is in charge of what team.
Women, on the other hand, tend to be more focused on the interpersonal relationships at play. While they are certainly aware of the chain of command in an organization, they are also aware of who plays well with who, and who struggles to get along. They are more willing to partner up people from different teams and departments if it will help the overall organization function more smoothly. They may have a better understanding of a team member’s strengths, and a good manager can then capitalize on that knowledge to build a more successful team.
4. Men are goal focused; women are process oriented
Men often have their “eyes on the prize,” while women tend to focus more on the journey. This means that men are more likely to be intensely focused on when a product needs to ship, or when an organization needs to provide a deliverable. Women may be more focused on improving the customer experience along the way or smoothing the corporate path to make the work flow more efficient.
5. Men take credit, women share it
In many situations, when they find success, men tend to look internally to find the cause of that success. They see their own virtues and qualities as reasons for the success over all; they were a good team leader, they operated with integrity, or their work was incredibly efficient.
Women, meanwhile, are more likely to focus outward to find the reasons for success. They are more likely to focus on the strengths of other team members, appreciate a new policy or program that was put into place, or acknowledge the role of a supervisor or manager.
This means that men are more likely to take credit for themselves, while women are more likely to share that credit.
All of these skills and observations are important for every business, whether we have listed them as more masculine or more feminine. One truth, however, is that organizations which are primarily filled by men at the executive level are all too often lacking these skills. By hiring and promoting women into these roles, businesses can make themselves more successful in the future.