Business skills training for women usually isn’t all that different than the training offered to men. That’s a problem. People respond differently to men than they do to women. When a woman acts “like a man”, she is likely to encounter negative reactions and gender bias. Teaching women business skills based on what has worked for men in the same situation is tantamount to setting her up for failure.
BTW: it works both ways. Picture a successful man you know. Now picture him walking into a meeting, dressed like, speaking like, and gesturing like, Sheryl Sandberg. Wouldn’t work, would it? Yet there is no question that Ms. Sandberg is one of the more successful and powerful women in corporate America today.
Say it isn’t so!
Sorry Veronica, men and women are… different. That’s a good thing. Whether you believe in divine creation or evolution, there’s no denying that most every species has a distinct male and female gender. It’s a system that works, and works well.
The trouble starts when we begin to apply the behavioural norms of one gender to the other. To set expectations and define desirable attributes based on gender alone. It’s a path that denies the world the benefit of a balanced viewpoint and puts one (or the other) at a disadvantage.
Much has been made lately of the inherent differences in the way that women and men are evaluated in the workplace. A quick Google search reveals an avalanche of research, all reaching the same conclusions:
- Women are held to a higher professional standard than their male colleagues.
- Women are penalized for displaying the same ‘leadership’ behaviours that get men promoted.
- Women are just as hard (or harder) on other women than we are on men.
What’s Going On Here?
The current body of research seems to suggest that the leadership styles most natural to women are actually the problem. Traditionally female qualities of collaboration and consensus are perceived as weak. On the other hand, women who exhibit traditionally male patterns of leadership behavior are perceived as “bossy”, “strident”, and “difficult to work with”. There’s no way to win.
The real problem is denial. Somehow we’ve chosen to believe that being equal means being the same. Both men and women vehemently deny that differences exist, all the while subconsciously furthering entrenched stereotypes. It would be better for everyone if we could all accept that women are women and men are men. Then get on with figuring how to come together in ways that turn our differences in strengths.
Business Skills Training, Designed for Women
Women need business skills training designed to enhance the strengths of female leadership styles. That training must help women develop new communication skills that counteract the traditional power-plays of interruption and minimization, without coming across as strident or manly.
This is not your Daddy’s coaching program! And maybe that’s exactly what women need.
Business in Harmony Boot Camp
Adizue’s Business in Harmony training program for women business owners was designed specifically to combine traditional business methods with female-friendly soft skills and business development approaches that fit women’s busy lives. Business in Harmony is one of the foundation programs in the Adizue business training and group coaching program.