During my career I’ve had a bird’s-eye view of the ‘boys club’ – the golfing, the lunches, the dinners, the excursions to the post-workday watering holes. One thing I’ve observed is that men do an exceptional job maintaining a set of behaviors within their club. I believe women can learn a lesson from the boys club – in business and in life. Okay, so before you start throwing stones at me, let me explain.
First of all, I know, from experience, that women are exceptional business leaders. In fact, there are countless articles and blogs out there that prove women start their careers better educated than their male counterparts. If you Google ‘are men better than women at business?’ you will most likely be bombarded by all the reasons why women are actually superior. As a woman, I am proud to see this, but I still think we have something to learn from men when it comes to the rules of engagement within our own ‘club.’ Honestly, I think we can do it even better than they do it. How? Here are 3 ways women can up their game by learning lessons from the boys club.
Women are comfortable giving, we need to learn how to ask for help.
1. Don’t be afraid to talk shop. Yes, women do a great job of getting together, but we tend to be very church-and-state when it comes to business conversations. We talk about the family, the kids, the stressors and nuances of our jobs, but I don’t hear us asking for advice, or even better, pushing our female counterparts to help us. I don’t see us asking for favors. I see us giving other women the impression that ‘I got this.’ So, though we show great vulnerability in our work life, we tend to guard it in our personal lives. But frankly, we should share more. Because you never know when that personal conversation could lead to a great business opportunity, or a different way of thinking. Women are comfortable giving, we need to learn how to ask for help.
Let’s help each other learn how to negotiate better.
2. Let’s talk money. Our humility, though a strength in many aspects of business, is not a strength when it comes to discussing money. When my guy friends get together, money is always a topic. It’s definitely not taboo. It is talked about. Here is the reality: we are still getting paid 79 cents on the dollar compared to our male counterparts. If we keep saying how great we are in business and as leaders, why are we still not getting paid for it? So, let’s discuss money. Let’s help each other learn how to negotiate better. Tips and tricks. What has worked and what hasn’t? Let’s practice with our other women colleagues. Role-play a negotiation. Ask their thoughts and advice on how they got the job or the deal done.
If you are a woman and in a senior position, look for promising younger female employees, and offer to help guide them.
3. Fearlessly help each other. I would like to think that women help each other, but honestly I think we can do better. How? Mentor each other. Don’t compete with each other. In many of the companies I’ve worked for over the years, I have seen women compete against each other. Specifically when they were not the majority. We need to avoid this pitfall. And we need to pick each other up on the climb. If you are a woman and in a senior position, look for promising younger female employees, and offer to help guide them. Bottom line, at my company most of our employees are women. I’m surrounded every day by brilliant, awesome women. And to top it off, I am surrounded by great men that help empower us and want nothing but success for every employee. But I realize that is still not the norm. I think both sexes can learn from one another, and I think we will all be better for it.