Women “Running the World” Isn’t The Point
Semantics is often pooh-poohed, as in: “that’s just semantics.” But, as I research the gender shifts in workplace and marketing these days, I think we should be giving semantics their due. Word choice actually DOES matter when formerly touchy topics are raised, especially if the point of raising them is to open a new conversation. It was with that in mind that I recently read a great article with an overly provocative title, “What if women ran the world?”
The gist of Mark Lange’s piece for the Christian Science Monitor was that the world might be in less trouble now had women been leading some of the crucial systems such as healthcare and finance. The way women tend to think and make decisions is more suited to taking it all in and balancing short term and long term concerns, all the while noticing red flags and being flexible enough to make changes in any direction. As Lange put it:
Male cognitive patterns of linear, command-and-control thinking are no longer optimal – either with Gen-Y talent in the workplace, or with geopolitical conflict around the world. We’re heading into an era when we need leadership that enlists self-interest in support of the larger outcome – less transactional and more transformational. Rather than punishing failure or reinforcing conflict, motivating progress.
He’s right. And, I believe the generational difference will become even more telling for HR and marketing. Gen Y men and women don’t buy into command-and-control. They never knew a time when that just “was” the way like so many of us older types did.
The good news – that men may now be ready to look more closely at women’s ways of doing things. This is something I’ve experienced in interviewing a lot of men in marketing and that Lange notes as well. However, I caution against calling it that for much longer. (Those darned semantics strike again). As per my recently published ChangeThis manifesto, Beware The Gender Trap, the twenty-first century consumer sees the world through more gender neutral eyes. Whether we like – or admit – it or not, naming something “women’s” or “men’s” automatically taints an open discussion. Some guys may not even read Lange’s piece because the title smacks of emasculation (and who needs that) – when it actually is quite the opposite.
Instead, it is incredibly hopeful that men and women both seem to be becoming more willing to look at gender differences and to learn from one another. Elements of each other’s heretofor gendered ways don’t have to be sex-specific. Who, exactly, was the first person who said guys couldn’t be nurturing and women couldn’t be competitive, hmmm?
Anyway – neither “women” nor “men” can run this new world. Instead, those human beings who make decisions using more left with right brain processing and see the broader interconnections in life and work, will have the power. And, that will be transformational indeed.