One of the advantages that women have in business today is that they’re female. No, I’m not kidding. If you don’t believe me, read Lee Colan’s new book Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees (McGraw-Hill.) Women have unique skills that make them well suited to successfully lead organizations. What makes women so good for business? You probably already know. You can see if you’re right.
I talked with Lee Colan to get his insights on women leaders and what makes them so successful. Colan says that all leaders need to engage both the hearts and the minds of their employees to get what he calls business boosters. When times are tough, when you’ve engaged both hearts and minds, people will find it in themselves to work harder and accomplish tough tasks. Engaging just one part won’t work, either. If you only engage people’s minds, you’ve got productivity, but it’s more like a sweatshop environment. If you’ve only got everyone’s heart, you probably have a party going on at work, but you won’t get anything done. You need both hearts and minds engaged to get the most from people—results and passion. That’s what makes women so strong in business. They’ve naturally got the ability to engage both hearts and minds. You knew that, didn’t you?
You just might have. Colan says that women are naturally intuitive. Women intuitively know how to get the best out of people. Men often focus on getting a return on investment with every decision. Engaging people is something soft and is hard to quantify. Women intuitively know that there’s value if they can engage their employees with a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging to the team, and a sense of appreciation. That’s all the heart. They may not be able to quantify it, but they intuitively know it will pay off. Most men don’t naturally think that way. You may not have heard them say, “I don’t get this intangible stuff.” You can bet they’re thinking it.
Engaging just the heart is not enough. Women don’t have to worry. Colan points out that women already have the analytical skills required for business success. Consider that good rational decision making comes from the logical training you get in academia.
So women, use your natural talents of being able to engage both hearts and minds. When you support the people you work with, they can in turn support you when you need them. You knew that already, didn’t you?