One of the greatest revelations for women comes when they fully grasp how dramatically the world can change and what they can do about it.
Many women today feel like they’re barely keeping their head above water: They feel hammered by their “to do” list, resentful and resigned or scared and insecure as they furiously tread water. As the world around them changes at a dizzying pace, they don’t know how they can possibly do more, how to better position themselves for success. Some women are content to simply survive, get along and have a small piece of the market. Others set unusually high aspirations. Many are setting new standards both in their personal and professional lives, forcing others to react and move away from the status quo.
Around the world, too many women are living at the mercy of events. They feel like victims or they respond to events by acting like victims. They’ve lost their birthright, the power to control their own destinies. They resent that, on a very large scale, women feel “less than” or “not good enough.” They want someone to blame. It’s depressing to watch, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Who wants to be out of control on the things that are important in their lives?
Most of the time achieving these high aspirations is not possible with an incremental approach. These women, already successful and stable, understand the requirement for a transformation in how they think about the totality of their career, how they engage with both men and women, how they put judgment aside, how they create compassionate power, etc. But they are not moving forward.
Women often get themselves tangled up and constrained. Like Gulliver, they end up tied down by hundreds of strings. Incremental coaching and education do not cut through the tangles. It takes getting to the heart of the matter, staying focused on the desired outcomes without getting lost in the tangles and weeds.
Transformative thinking (or innovative thinking) demands clear, compelling and unmistakable desire to change quickly, coherently and effectively to bring about desperately needed and passionately wanted breakthroughs. There is a level of penetrating thinking, focus and intensity to create a transformative way of bringing forth women’s full potential. Through a transformational process, odds for success are dramatically improved.
If you want to engage in conversation, if you want to explore how women can move forward, breaking through the tangles and making transformational changes for themselves and those around them, we would like to talk with you. Please reach out to us or check our website at www.hightidesgroup.com.
Women know we thrive when we are together. All the way back to ancient times — in the red tent or carrying water from the river — women have relied on each other for support, encouragement and help with basic survival.
Nonetheless, women today report feeling isolated at work and have trouble breaking into the professional networks and sponsors critical to their career advancement.
Recent data collected in a comprehensive study tracking various trends related to women in global corporate leadership revealed women are three times more likely to rely on networks made up of mostly women. Because men hold more senior positions than women do, women only associating with women limit their access to leaders who can open doors to advancement in their careers.
Paradoxically, women choose to rely on other women and thrive when they rely on other women, but the very reliance on other women limits their career opportunities. For ease of conversation, I’ll label this the “network paradox,” and I’ll describe it as a problem.
The accepted solution to the network paradox is to integrate women into the well-established, centuries-old male network. Men have built a robust and extensive professional network, and most successful male executives have figured out how to tap into it. Research shows men have more interaction with senior managers, have more access to challenging and career-advancing assignments, are consulted more often for input on major decisions and receive informal feedback significantly more often than women.
Understandably, people view this disparity as unfair, and, consequently, workplaces are devoted to creating a gender-neutral environment. In addition to training programs, HR departments manufacture mentoring relationships between men and women, create specific and detailed hiring and review processes that are viewed as gender-neutral and set goals for senior executives focused on accountability and results. The underlying assumption is that if it’s the male network that creates an advantage, we should include women in that network on an equal basis.
At the risk of sounding too negative, that approach is never going to work. In response to the realization that because women thrive together and are significantly more likely to network with other women, we have decided the solution is to put women with men and hold people accountable for ignoring the fact that they are women. Put more positively, we want to create an integrated network that benefits men and women, and we have set about adding women to the existing framework.
I propose that, instead, we should first build a network of women.
The prevailing solution ignores the essence of the paradox: Women strongly prefer to network with other women. Despite overwhelming evidence that the male-dominated network is more effective at creating career paths to leadership, women are three times more likely to network with other women. Let’s respect that and put it to good use. Women in corporate leadership are isolated from each other. Companies have, at most, a few women in senior leadership. But across all companies, there are many women leaders who should be brought together. Circling back to my opening remark, women throughout history have thrived when they spend time together.
A network of women will function in the same way the male network functions today. Women with deep and enduring relationships will support each other, make introductions for each other, mentor each other, provide informal feedback, steer career-making opportunities to each other and fundamentally generate power and influence for the group. As a first step, building this network does not require creating artificial relationships; data shows women naturally gravitate toward each other for this purpose. What is required is a commitment by senior executives to the goal — and a focus on accountability and results.
The insurance and technology industries, both of which have a dearth of women in leadership, are the perfect industries to lead the world through this paradox to the future.
In insurance and financial services, 57% of the entering workforce is female and only 21% of top executives are. In technology, the entering workforce is 36% female and only 19% of top executives are. More pressingly, as the demand for tech workers increases every year, the number of women entering the field decreases, creating a deficit of qualified workers to fill available jobs.
Redirecting resources from the futile exercise of manufacturing and monitoring artificial gender-neutral access to the existing male-dominated network to the creation of a network of women will organically equalize what men and women are experiencing at work.
Trying to compare intelligence and gender doesn’t typically yield much in the way of productive discussion, but sometimes research comes along that makes it worth opening this particular can of worms.
Decades of research show unequivocally that men and women are equal in general intelligence (IQ), but that isn’t the case when it comes to emotional intelligence (EQ). There are subtle, and not so subtle, differences in men’s and women’s expression and understanding of emotions that must be explored and understood.
Gender is a common place for people to assign labels around emotion. Such generalizations have pegged women as everything from the “fairer sex” to overly emotional, and men from emotionally aloof to explosive. You’ll find that none of these platitudes are true.
There’s an enormous amount of research suggesting that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to men’s and women’s performance at work. Emotional intelligence is responsible for 58% of performance in all types of jobs, and 90% of top performers are high in EQ.
“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” -Timothy Leary
TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people, and it’s clear that women have the upper hand. While women’s overall EQ score is just a couple of points higher than men’s, this is a statistically significant difference that shows that women have greater skill in using emotions to their benefit.
It just doesn’t answer the pressing question: Why?
To understand why women outscore men, we have to look at scores for each of the four emotional intelligence skills by gender. There’s a reliable pattern in the data that points to some interesting explanations for the gap.
Self-awareness is how well you understand your own emotions in the moment, as well as how well you understand your tendencies-the people and situations you handle well and those that push your buttons. This is the one place where men and women have perfectly equal scores. It’s also a place where men have been given a bad rap. People often assume that men aren’t tuned in to their emotions or don’t understand them. Clearly, that isn’t the case. Of course, men also have a tendency to hop on this bandwagon-by feigning to have no awareness or understanding of their emotions-in the hope of avoiding any accountability for their actions. Now we know better.
Self-management is what you do with your emotions once you’re aware of them. Because you can’t make emotions disappear, effective self-management requires channeling your emotions into producing the behavior that you want. This is the one area where men outscored women. I believe that the best explanation for gender differences in emotional intelligence is how we are socialized growing up (reinforced by societal gender pressures we experience as adults). In the case of self-management, men are often expected to be emotionally “strong” and in control of their emotions, which may explain why they outscore women slightly.
Social awareness is how well you understand the emotions and experience of other people. This requires the ability to tune in to body language and other unspoken signals, because people don’t usually come out and say what’s going on with them. This is an area where women outscore men by a fairly large margin (statistically speaking). This is also a skill that women are socialized to practice and possess from childhood in ways that men aren’t. Right or wrong, women are expected to take care of other people (and are rewarded for doing so). This gives them an upper hand when it comes to social awareness. Men, to their detriment, aren’t rewarded for social awareness in the same way that women are, and this carries over into adulthood.
Relationship management is the pinnacle of emotional intelligence. It requires that you use self-awareness, self-management and social awareness in concert to better your relationships as you interact with other people. You cannot hope to get the most out of your interactions with other people until you understand your emotions, cue in to their emotions and use this knowledge to adjust your approach on the fly. Women have a slight edge in relationship management for reasons described in the social awareness section.
Emotional intelligence presents a significant advantage for women in the workplace. Whether you’re a man or a woman, don’t just sit back hoping that you’re one of the high-EQ types. EQ is a flexible skill that you can improve with effort. To that end, here are a few things that you can do to improve your EQ today:
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, and adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing you but not so great when you’re responding to a curt e-mail. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine’s long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body. High-EQ individuals know that caffeine is trouble, and they don’t let it get the better of them.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence. When you sleep, your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep. So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think. Skipping sleep impairs your brain function across the board. It slows your ability to process information and solve problems, kills your creativity and catapults your stress levels and emotional sensitivity. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention and memory are all reduced when they don’t get enough sleep. So they make sleep a top priority.
Stop Negative Self-Talk in Its Tracks
The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that-thoughts, not facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural tendency to perceive threats (inflating the frequency or severity of an event). Emotionally intelligent people separate their thoughts from the facts to escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive, new outlook.
Appreciate What You Have
Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.
Why do you think women outscore men in emotional intelligence? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.