“We think with our hearts and not our minds”. “We’re nurturing caring and get emotionally attached”. These whispers and stereotypes used to follow women around during their corporate climb it’s what made us vulnerable and unfit to manage large corporations and employees, now however we find ourselves in a new era and the whispers grow ever so faint with every second passing during our times of success.
Being a woman at the top if your game probably has some disadvantages, purely because of society expecting certain things from us. We’re moms, wives, best friends and now CEO’s. It’s not something we ought to be offended by but we constantly seem to try and prove ourselves to the world – We try and rise to the occasion in a manly order, when we no longer have to.
Women have come out the other end blissfully shining when it came to positions of power; they got the job done whilst still being adored by their people. Margaret Thatcher qualified as a barrister and a research chemist before becoming prime minister and survived on for hours sleep a night so she could get more work done. Lawyer, senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton then secretary of state, was video-linked to a Whitehouse discussion on national security while planning her daughter Chelsea’s wedding. The key was prioritizing, sacrifice and a drive to exploit their capability, as a mother and as a leader. Why should you be denied the same courtesy. If you believe you can manage it then you are capable of doing it.
Marketing director of Revlon Pumza Payi has already made great strides and in an interview to Fairlady stated that she is driven by passion. “There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of work, but it’s fulfilling because I can see my input. I always want to see the value I bring to the work place” she says
Pumza says she balances the demand of a big job and family by doing everything 100 percent “When I’m at work I’m 100 percent there and it’s the same when I’m at home… I’m fully there”
All bosses male or female make mistakes. Truth is however men and women make different mistakes. Why? It might have something to do with anything from roots in cultural and social traditions to maybe even genetics. That is not the important factor to consider though, instead of thinking of all the things you as women can do wrong think of how you’re going to fix them because you won’t stop making mistakes, it’s how you learn, how you’ll grow and how you’ll become a mentor to others. Will the fire turn you into ash or diamonds?
Mismanaging your emotions
Suzy Welch, a contributing editor at O, is the co-author of Winning (HarperBusiness) she says that if there is one mistake women in power are known for making, it’s mismanaging their emotions. Women are either impersonal focussing only employees’ hands or brains, metaphorically speaking, or they tend to be too personal. Welch categorizes it either as an Ice Queen or the Good Mother approach.
Ice Queens are smart, capable and keep employees at arm’s length. It’s an approach that works according to Welch but the Kingdome can sometimes be ruled by fear, with co-workers believing you have no appreciation for their hopes and dreams. If this is the case how will you ever know how to motivate your staff?
The Good Mother approach is the complete opposite and might be dangerous grounds. You’re nurturing and know each of your employees personally but the lines between friend and boss become blurry after a while and with that work ethic might go out the window as well.
It’s important to establish a middle ground between these two. Close enough to know your people, yet distant enough to lead them.
Respect cannot be forced upon your people it is only earned. Remind yourself of the path you took to get where you are. You should not see your work place as a hierarchy where you are at the top of the pyramid. People want to work where they are known and valued, then and only then, will they give more than what’s expected of them. You’re a leader now your success is no longer the most important thing – it’s the success of your people that will make or break the company.
Find a mentor
One thing that Welch stresses profoundly is having a mentor to guide and help you along the way: “You have to find a mentor,” the CEO of my company told me every chance she got. “You need to find somebody—a role model, a teacher—who can help you.”
You can have as many as you like, in fact the more the merrier. Friends, colleagues, former bosses, a neighbour who just so happens to be a CEO, whether they last you a month or years, every one of them can teach you something different.
Not everything will always be moonshine and roses so to speak, you are managing a business and you will have to step on a few toes – it’s impossible to keep everyone happy. If one person lacks performance the whole team will suffer. Remember you’re managing a unit now. Your performance is measured by the performance of your team. You will be victorious if they are.
It’s not about your individual result anymore so you have to learn to put down your hand and encourage your team to raise theirs only then will the work environment be driven by passion, determination and respect.