3 – Do You Have to Act Like a Man?

3 – Do You Have to Act Like a Man?

Do You Have to Act Like a Man?

Women in the business world often wonder whether they need to change their personality or behavior to better compete with men in the business world. Can you be feminine and still be taken seriously? Will being aggressive label a woman as a negative while it might be expected behavior in a man? Is it right or wrong to be emotional in a professional setting?

Several successful female experts and entrepreneurs weigh in on these issues in this edition of Sound Advice.

Transcript

Millman: When women try to imitate what’s not comfortable to them, they don’t come off very well….

Jones: I can be emotional, and I can be very feminine, but when I am making business decisions, I have to be business oriented…

Calpeter: You don’t have to pound on the table and be aggressive and assertive and nasty and bitchy okay. You need to be constructive about what it is that you are trying to do…

Kristen: Welcome to “Sound Advice” – the brief audio download that brings the best of eClips to you. I’m Kirsten Barker.

Today’s topic is “Do You Have To Act Like a Man To Succeed In Business?”

Women in the business world often wonder whether they need to change their personality or behavior to better compete with men in the business world. Can you be feminine and still be taken seriously? Will being aggressive label a woman as a negative while it might be expected behavior in a man? Is it right or wrong to be emotional in a professional setting?

Several successful female experts and entrepreneurs weigh in on these issues in this edition of Sound Advice. First, we’ll hear from Amy Millman. Millman is the President of Springboard Enterprises, an organization which has assisted hundreds of women-led high-growth enterprises raise over $4 billion in investment capital. She states that at the end of the day, women need to find their comfort zone and be themselves.

Millman: When women try to imitate what’s not comfortable to them, they don’t come off very well. When they are themselves and are – and find their comfort zone it makes an impact. And I think of the times when I was you know starting my career. And we were told in our little seminars that we should be wearing you know, pinstriped suits that – and you know down play any femininity that we had. And we bought into it hook line and sinker. And looked stupid pretty much in the process. We didn’t blend. Nobody was fooled. They didn’t treat us the same. They didn’t really respect us anymore than they would have. And we looked stupid and we felt uncomfortable. And so you know how successful can that possibly – how much confidence can that really give you?

Kristen: Julie McPeek is co-founder of Provisor Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in new business development. With over 18 years of previous experience in Sales and Marketing at Procter & Gamble, she has specialized in executive-level management relationships, and has personally sold to CEOs and executive officers of many of the companies comprising the Fortune 500. She shares the importance of monitoring your body language…

McPeek: It’s interesting because I do think innately women are less likely to be outgoing and forceful and convicted about what it is that they feel when they’re in a room full of men. And I have noticed because I spend a lot of time in the executive office, which is mostly with men. In fact I can’t think of a woman that I’ve spent time with in the executive office with. But I’ve just done a lot of — I’ve taken stock of how men handle themselves when they’re in the executive office. And many times I find they will be very open in their body language. They’re much more likely to be spread out on, you know, arm of a chair instead of sitting with their arms crossed which women do so much. They’re much more likely to be spread out over a table. All of their notebooks and their papers are spread out and taking up a lot of space. They will put their hands up behind their head like this and all of it is really — all of those are positions of power. And women will tend to not be so ready to take a lot of space around their — where they’re sitting. And so I will purposefully do that when I’m sitting in an executive office. Sit back and I will spread out and sometimes I’ll sit with my hands behind my head. I have — I’m very conscious of my handshake. I find a number of men will just shake my hand like I’m not a strong woman and then when I start to shake with a strong firm hand shake, they tighten up their grip. And so all of those are ways to make them realize you know what? You need to stand up and take notice. I am of equal business stature.

Kristen: McPeek’s business partner, Kate Jones was also a Proctor and Gamble alum prior to co-founding Provisor Marketing. She shares her frustration with women who think that business is an emotional endeavor.

Jones: If you are working for a company, it comes down to dollar and cents at the end of the day. It is a business. It isn’t an emotional endeavor. If you are in Corporate America, it is a business. If you are in other elements, it may be more of an emotional attachment. I think that was the hard thing I found was taking things personally and driving too much with their emotion of when they felt angry or sad, and letting that influence their behavior within the environment. That was the one thing that, I guess, I felt it was disabling to the team when that happened. You almost felt like I don’t want to say anything, because she is going to think I am trying to tell her not to be true to your gender, which is that you are perhaps more emotional. Yet, that was the one thing that I found, and it was always helpful to be able to say, I can be emotional, and I can be very feminine, but when I am making business decisions, I have to be business oriented. I can’t try to sway a business to be more emotionally grounded if that’s not what at the end of the day the business is about. I think that would be about the only thing when I would see people get very upset and come to tears. I would step back and say, But it is a business issue. I wish it didn’t make them feel that way and that they wouldn’t be so emotional.

Kristen: Sure – business is business…but how do you handle business situations where there is volatility and you may be passionate about a specific direction? Rachel Lampert is a playwright, director and choreographer and since 1997 has been the Artistic Producing Director for the Kitchen Theatre based in Ithaca, NY. She feels that many people see passionate women as being hysterical and stresses that passion needs to be expressed via the words you choose rather than the tone in which you speak them

Lampert: When I was younger, and I was you know cute or perky, it was very hard and it was very hard for me not to play into that because that you know we socialize woman to be adorable and pleasant and smile a lot and do all those things and make people like us. So I had to work hard and my advice to young woman is always to smile a lot less and that doesn’t mean to become a man, I mean I definitely don’t want to be a man but to just to be taken seriously. What I find that most difficult as when I am passionate about something and someone thinks I am hysterical about it. I think what time in the universe are we living in, you could possibly think that I am hysterical. I am just feeling strong emotions here and I am expressing myself, you never would say to a guy, you know, a man is being forthright and is being strong and he is being all those things and a woman is being passionate and forthright and strong and she is hysterical. I think a lot before I appear, before any large group of people where I have to perhaps say something negative, who say this is a problem and that we need to address it, so that I can take the emotional part which is so close to me out and just talk about the facts and keep my passion in the words that I choose rather than necessarily in my tactics I would like to keep that out.

Kristen: Patricia Warner, founder of consulting company, Global-eze and previously the Director of Sales and Marketing with Corning Incorporated, states that one of the biggest challenges facing women in business is how to get angry but not behave badly.

Warner: I think it’s hard for women to do things where there’s any kind of pushback because how do we know, how are we trained to pushback in a way that feels respectful. You’re either mediating or making everything nice or you’re angry. So you have to leap from being a nice girl to being an angry girl and that’s very uncomfortable. But in the middle of those two is a gap that we have to learn to fill in differently. Because going to angry, and by the way, we see the guys get away with that all the time…they get furious, they scream at people, they pound up and down the hallways, they slam doors, they’re a big shot CEO yelling at people and there’s this role model that says well isn’t that cool. Well guess what? As a woman you don’t get to do that. Backlash from behaving that way is so bad. It’s not even worth attempting it. So if you have to be able to push back and getting angry is inappropriate, what else can you do? And that’s the challenge for women in business. That’s the challenge for women in any negotiation. And I can tell you that what you can do is be better prepared. I’ll guarantee that the other side doesn’t think that’s going to be necessary. If you’re much better prepared, you have better information, you’re more clear about what their requirements are and you can find out things more easily with the female network that’s out there or the people that you work with well, they’ll work with you on that. That’s one strategy that’s very powerful. So maybe you have to spend more time preparing but it’s worth it. And it is hard. It is hard to do that.

Kristen: Finally, we’ll hear from Lynn Calpeter. Calpeter was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of NBC Universal in May 2004. She is responsible for overseeing NBC Universal’s financial planning and operations and plays a key role in the company’s strategic business initiatives. She reports directly to Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal. She states that you don’t have to streamroll people to get your point across – and sometimes a constructive behind-the-scenes approach can be more effective than pounding on the table in a meeting…

Calpeter:. Say what you think, but be constructive. This is once you’ve learned and you’ve sort of gotten some credibility, don’t make the mistake of being in the background. You don’t have to pound on the table and be aggressive and assertive and nasty and bitchy okay. You need to be constructive about what it is that you are trying to do and so often times, again as I said my style is to not be very overt about it, but to be a bit more, not covert, but sort of behind the scenes influencing in a more direct one on one way as opposed to having to deal with all the crap that comes with sort of group view of that something that you have to say or a view that you have.

Kristen: Thanks for listening to this segment. If you are interested in hearing more from any of our featured speakers, please check our website at eclips.cornell.edu.

That’s E-C-L-I-P-S. cornell.edu.

And remember, if it is a business topic of interest, eClips will bring you “Sound Advice”…


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