Gutsy Women Leaders: Smart like Brain Surgeons
Nancy was the only woman on the senior team of a high powered tech company. Skill wise she and her male colleagues were on a level playing field. Yet, negotiation time saw her curl up in a little ball and surrender.
In one of our early coaching sessions she confided that the men became too argumentative, unreasonable, and polarizing. She felt, she told me, like running out of the room just as she had as a kid when her two older brothers started in on each other.
“Maybe I was not cut out for the power politics at this level, maybe I would be better off as a manager at a lower level”.
Then we started to dig into the differences that are in the male and female brain and suddenly the light went on and she saw how she could make a major contribution to this executive team and to the company.
Here is what Nancy learned about the differences that occur when men and women enter into negotiations:
1. When stress is high, and it is when there are negotiations, the amygdala, that older part of the brain that has to do with fight, flight, and freeze, comes into play.
2. Males are more spatial, and calculate what is going on based on data not feelings.
3. Women pick up more sensory cues and respond to body language more intently, thus looking at the relationship aspects of negotiation rather than merely solving the problem.
4. Men are more territorial and aggressive in their negotiations and will take a strong stand to keep what is theirs at all costs.
Here is what really makes negotiations more positive between the sexes:
1. If men can adapt to understanding the strong need women have for relationships to be considered, there will be a major move forward in negotiations.
2. If women clearly bullet-point the facts that must be included in the dialogue, they will be heard and respected by their male counterparts.
There are more and more GUTSY women moving into this once totally male dominated arena of high level negotiations. Of course it is important not to stereotype, there are obviously, many ways up the mountain. And yet, if you ever watch little boys play with toys and little girls with their toys it is clear that for the most part there is a difference, spatially and emotionally.
Why not use this knowledge in a world that is coming into a whole new way of 21st Century gender relating. We can all benefit from deeper understanding of the differences that make a difference.