Male vs Female Experience and Leadership.


So once in a while I’ll post a blog topic that is serious.

This is one of them.

Don’t worry, its rare.

I’ve had this “theory” about team leadership and their differences from men to women. What I am about to explain is just a theory, an idea that I came up with on my own. I’ve never seen any articles written about this topic, so I’m not sure if any of this is new or has been written to death. If it makes any sense please feel free to comment, if you disagree with what I’ve written please feel free to express your understanding.

In this theory, the ways men and women approach their vast knowledge and experience and express  that, is key to understanding what I’m going to write. So please keep that in mind as you read on. Also, in no way is this HOW EVERY WOMAN OR MAN ACTS, it is only my experience.

Men: 

When I was in Afghanistan (I wasn’t in the military by the way, and in no way was in any kind of danger) working with both female  and male bosses, I began to formulate the ideas of this theory. Even working in the corporate world I saw some of the precepts of this theory. You see, men have a very interesting way of expressing knowledge and experience.

Its always been my belief that men who are quick to say, “Yeah I was in Afghanistan,” or “Yeah I was in combat.” Really haven’t done a lot. They probably were in Afghanistan, but spent their whole tour in a warehouse safely protected. They probably call “combat” hearing a rocket explode a mile away safely tucked into their comfy sleeping bag.

In a nut shell, any man who is quick to shout his accomplishments 5 minutes into a conversation either has low self esteem or really didn’t do the things he’s claiming. Its also something I think men are trained to understand from our early teen years. A man who is a braggart is most likely full of BS.

Now compare that with any Medal of Honor winner. They are ALWAYS very humble about what they did. Even hating the idea of showing any kind of glamor. One of my good friends was in Iraq and Afghanistan. As an Explosive ordnance disposal tech, the guy disarmed over 800 IEDs (bombs) in one tour alone. How long did it take to find out this information out? Over a year and half and multiple drunken nights involving lots of beers.

Now that we have laid out the groundwork for men lets talk about the ladies.

Women:

I’ve worked with some female new hires, women who just started their brand new job fresh out of college. Every single time, they are apt to keep their heads down and try to absorb as much information as possible. They’ll ask a lot of questions but more than likely will only express knowledge on a job related topic if they are challenged on it. They are happy to learn, but will rarely jump right out and express the confidence that they know exactly what they’re doing. To be fair many new male hires have acted the same way too.

Comparing that with experienced female managers.

This is where things get interesting.

A confident female manager with years of experience, is more apt to come into a work atmosphere where her choices are second guessed, or doubts about her abilities surface.  This is where she makes a mistake.

Interested only in squashing those doubts, an experienced female manager will throw out her accomplishments as fast as possible. She’ll want people to understand that she knows exactly what she’s doing so she lets them know, “I got a 4.0 from Harvard business school, I’ve successfully managed 3 companies.” She may know exactly what she’s doing, but has made a mistake in the way she expressed it with her male subordinates.

Understanding how men view experience, what do you think their reaction of her is? Do you think they will disregard her accomplishments, because she was so quick to throw them out there? I don’t find fault with the female manager, she wants her people to believe in her and trust her leadership. She is expressing her experience in a way she thinks will make her workers believe in her.

I personally find this stuff fascinating. Male and female understanding can make for a better work atmosphere.

If you have your own experiences to share, or if you think I’m full of it let me know down below. (In the comments section you pervert)

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About MaximumWage

I don't wear shoes. And I habitually reinvent myself, like the wheel.
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20 Responses to Male vs Female Experience and Leadership.

  1. becca3416 says:

    That’s an interesting take. I agree that it’s mind boggling to try to think in men and women prospective at the same time. I personally am more like a man in this sense though. I am not too quick to offer up my accomplishments outside of my friends or family.

  2. zorgor says:

    You’re right when you say people who are not as experienced as they claim, make their claims right away and loudly. And that those who are good at what they do, tend to keep it to themselves (and wonder later if they sold themselves short). This is about a study whose findings explained why there are incompetent people who believe they’re awesome and don’t understand when they fail (like Dilbert’s PHB), and also very competent people who don’t think they are. They found that the first group are missing the ability to recognize competence. So they can’t recognize that they’re incompetent, and of course also cannot see that they need to work harder to become competent. They’re left simply believing they’re amazing; they simply blind to the reality that they’re far from it. They also cannot see truly competent people for what they are, because too often competent people don’t see it themselves. This is because they are aware of everything they do not know, and forget how far they’ve come, accepting it as ‘normal’. So they don’t project confidence in their abilities, leaving the PHB’s of the world no way at all to see it.

    So I would say the first mistake competent women in your scenario make is the same one I’ve made for most of my career — not recognizing my own ability as something not everyone has.

    But you’re taking more about gender communication style misunderstandings. I’ve never personally seen the scenario you describe, but yes, she would come off as exaggerating her ability to guys…

    Great post! And obviously thought-provoking!

    • MaximumWage says:

      Oh yeah! The dunning Kruger effect! I’ve know about that for a little while. I don’t know why I didnt link to it in my blog article. DAMNIT! I’m an idiot.

      Also thanks for your take. I guess I am talking about Gender communication style misunderstandings. And good luck with your confidence. I believe in you. You called me out on something I was already aware of. LOL. 🙂

      • zorgor says:

        Yeah those guys! I didn’t know it had a name. I was just floored when I first read about this about 15 years ago…

        Eh, I can only talk about that incorrect ‘everyone is smarter than me’ feeling because I recognize it now for what it is. I think I’m getting past that now, so I’ve taken a step in the direction of incompetence. 🙂

  3. jayne ayres says:

    very thought provoking – I agree about the person who brags quickly. I like to hang back and observe to get the gauge of competence within a group. You just never know. I like that line of WC Field’s or Oscar Wilde?? …better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than open it and remove all doubt! I always love when the quiet one who was doubted, proves full competence through action not arguing. That silent power is awesome. As a manager in the situation you described, I might ask those who doubt me what it is they know, what they believe to be a better way to handle it… and then point out what they didn’t know and why their take is flawed … that way I might learn a new way of thinking and hopefully, they learn that I knew what I was doing. Then I’d fire them – jk!

    • MaximumWage says:

      I do love that quote by Oscar Wilde, I think its sooo soo true. And its been proven true countless times in my life. I honestly have no Idea why the stupid in this world are filled with so much confidence.

      Something tells me you would fire them. 🙂

      • jayne ayres says:

        the scary thing is…I could be the stupid one…thats why I TRY and shut up! : ) I don’t like prove Oscar Wilde right…I try at least.

      • MaximumWage says:

        STOP! You’re being too hard on yourself. You’re much smarter than you give yourself credit. If you speak up more you MAY or MAY not be proving Oscar Wilde right. 🙂

      • jayne ayres says:

        LOL! I would have laughed more if you would have said that and then boasted at how well you have handled those very situations! It is freaky to see how we ( I) sometimes fit stereotypes that I don’t like. I better lash out to even the balances. : )

  4. J-Dub says:

    I’ve been in management for over fifteen years, and the overwhelming majority of leaders I’ve had to deal with who just “didn’t get it” were men, and most of those were the “brag” guy. They fundamentally do not understand that is isn’t about them, its about the performance of the team. Most of those guys still didn’t get after several attempts at coaching, right down to the point where I had them escorted off the property by security.

    As for the women in this category, more often than not their inadequacies stem from an insecurity based on, as you put it, she’s “come into a work atmosphere where her choices are second guessed, or doubts about her abilities surface.” The difference is that the women generally respond better to coaching, especially if you approach it from the standpoint of helping, not correcting.

    • MaximumWage says:

      Yeah its funny I’ve had a very similar experience. Good and bad female and male managers. I’m glad you shared your experiences as they correlated to what I was experiencing as well.

  5. Wow, great post! I’ve seen what you describe with servicemen. My ex didn’t like to tell people that he’s a veteran. He wouldn’t stand up when vets were recognized, etc. And he had done some pretty dangerous things over in Afghanistan. And I’ve met lots of marines who the first words out of their mouths are all about how they’ve been over there, and when you push them about what they were doing, you find out, as you said, they were chillin’ in a storage hanger.

    The only experience I’ve had with female management was in an all female office. So the manager was humble and didn’t throw her accomplishments around (probably because her ideas weren’t second guessed and she wasn’t challenged by anyone in the office). I’ll have to keep an eye out for that in the future.

    • MaximumWage says:

      I’m glad we’ve had similar experiences… Although I still have no Idea why guys gotta be dicks sometimes when it concerns female managers. I’ve honestly had no problems with them.

  6. Having worked for both male and female bosses, I can say I prefer female bosses by in large. I have yet to have a male boss who doesn’t write off everything I say or do. Very frustrating. I feel like I shouldnt have to tell anyone my accomplishments, to prove something to you, so I am not going to. If you dont respect me for what I am doing in my job, then telling you how great I am is not going to help.

  7. Damn this is an interesting take. As a woman, not a manager, but with a fair amount of experience in the workforce, I’ve learned that the one thing holding me back is NOT being aggressive enough, confident enough, and tooting our own horns enough. I do think that you’re right in one respect. The truly competent heros among us are HUMBLE-men and women. But as far as the workplace goes, no. I can’t agree. The only things I didn’t get in the workplace, are the ones I didn’t go after. Now. It could be that certain men would take that aggression the wrong way. But its a different world these days, thank god. Knowing how to play your cards, when to shut up and when to go after what you want is a big part. It also must be said….most women aren’t walking around wondering how to pander to their male subordinates…and why should they? seriously. Why?

    • MaximumWage says:

      You’ve made some great points. I was hoping this post wouldn’t be construed as “Heres how to pander to the men you work with ladies.” But more of a, “heres how experience can lead to miscommunication between the sexes.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen men and women make the mistake of dismissing experienced and great female managers, as well as men and women mistaking a male braggart as an experienced and capable manager.

      I’ll be honest there might be some gender roles definitely at play in this argument. I definitely agree with you, knowing when to play your cards is very important.

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