Regardless of what you believe about gender roles (they’re true, they’re untrue, they’re stereotypical), a lot of study has gone into the way women interact. What have we learned? Women like to connect. They have a tendency to nurture others, and they enjoy social contact.
A 2008 issue in the McKinsey Quarterly discussed how women have a tendency to make deeper connections with colleagues and partners. Barry Libert, author of Social Nation, has studied this idea over the course of his career and has written about social connections. Libert says that using some of the ‘feminine qualities’ can help improve business leadership and create a more social organization.
- Get to know those around you. Ask questions, take an interest, and pay attention. Understand what drives those that work for and around you. Says Libert, “Women are naturally good at this because they tend to be the heads of the social dynamics in their families, but men can learn to do it, too. Find out what matters to the individuals and communities around you to engage with them and provide for them, on their terms.”
- Know how others perceive you. Reflect on how others might perceive you: intimidating, caring, harsh, shy, nervous, reflective? When you enter a room, what do those in the room feel? Are they afraid, happy, nervous, calm, or agitated? “Minimize your presence and pay attention to how your dynamic changes the tenor of a conversation or meeting,”says Libert.
- Remember that business IS personal. Says Libert,”Listening to what people want, how they feel, and what makes them tick enables social businesses to improve customer experiences and create attractive communities. Make your business social and bring your version of personal to work. You don’t have to divulge family secrets; just show people that you’re human.”
Everyone wants to feel connected. At work, we want to have at least a basic idea that the person in charge is on our side and in our corner. Companies whose employees feel safe and secure generally report a higher attendance rate and happier employees. What else can we do to connect with those in our office, in charge, or that we lead?