There is great debate and many opinions about the role of gender in the workplace, especially as it pertains to the role of Managers. Rather than make a case for which gender is better, I think it is more productive to look at the key differences in the management styles of men versus women.
Of course, as Business Owners you know there will always be “exceptions to the rule”; however, these observations should provide some valuable insights for when you make your next hire or internal promotion.
It’s widely accepted that female Managers tend to be more open and interactive than their male counterparts; these qualities engender more participation, engagement, and enthusiasm on the part of employees. Such “natural” interactivity encourages cooperation and information sharing and can make for a more cohesive, democratic Department or Company.
Male Managers, on the other hand, tend to be more controlling and task-oriented. They may “command” employee respect and participation through their power and direction rather than through a “relational” style of management.
Both management styles are valid and can be effective depending upon your type of business and its employees. A more task-driven, direction-oriented approach will potentially cut the time required for some managerial actions; a cooperative, instructional, learning-centered approach will help employees to feel more important and valued however will require more time and involvement.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with making sure that people recognize your accomplishments and successes. In the area of self-promotion, men tend to be more comfortable than women with the spotlight’s glare focused directly on them.
Women Managers tend to shy away from center stage and instead share the positive attention with their team, and by doing so can undermine their effectiveness at building a strong personal brand.
The reality is that gender bias is still pervasive and women must be more vigilant in self-promoting, building their personal brand, and making themselves heard if they want to enter into management in greater numbers.
There are plenty of jokes about men not having very good listening skills and we certainly won’t review any of them here. Generally speaking men are action-oriented and are listening at the same time that they are thinking about what action they need to take. This focus is in sync with a male direction-driven management style.
Women tend to spend more time discussing a situation in the hopes of arriving at a consensus and a resulting action embraced by the entire team. This focus on cohesiveness tends to help women reinforce and strengthen their listening skills.
For most of history men have assumed the Senior Management roles in government, the private sector, and not-for-profits as well. It has been men that have decided if and when a woman should be made a Manager. That antiquated paradigm is changing, as a greater percentage of women are in managerial roles, and with this shift comes the hope that there will be a blending of managerial styles with men and women starting to take on the best qualities of each.
Unintentional Gender Bias at the Top of the House: What’s the Solution