Male & Female Brains Wired Differently

We need more women leaders

Dave Kinnear 1-On Leadership

And here’s why; Male and Female brains are wired differently, leading to different skillsets. Complementary skillsets at that. Most organizations need all the skills covered by the two different wiring systems, ergo – more women leaders, please.

For a long time now, we’ve made jokes, had anecdotal stories to share and have become very frustrated over the differences between the genders. Like you, I have mine. I sometimes get frustrated with the “oblique” manner in which my wife will ask questions. Personally, I want it “straight from the shoulders.” If you want the chair moved, ask me to “please move the chair” instead of saying something like, “Gee, I wonder if that chair fits over there?” And then getting angry if I don’t move it. (You’ll notice I’m being careful here. My wife edits this blog for me. She’ll change this if I’m not really polite.) [Insert from the editor and smiling wife–never had this conversation about a chair.]  We have many other stories too, about the workplace and whether it’s better to work for the lady boss or the guy boss. We get things confused between personalities and the female/male “traits.”

It’s now time to have a serious talk about this stuff and figure out how we can use the now well documented differences in brain wiring for the betterment of our companies, societies and world. And what got me thinking about this was an article in EarthSky summarizing the work of Dr. Ragini Verma, PhD, Striking differences in brain wiring between men and women. Very interesting indeed.

Male brains facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action. Female brains facilitate communication between the analytical and the intuitive. — Ragini Verma, PhD

My intuition has “told me” about this difference for a long time now. I’ve observed how teams get things closer to right when they comprise our best male and female thinkers each with wide business experiences. That’s not to say it’s easy to do; the communication thing is challenging for sure. But the results are generally superior and the team has greater potential to develop into a high performing team. This only works when everyone respects each other and is willing to be open to different views and different strengths.

For the needed changes to take place, the males in leadership positions will have to recognize that there are talents that can be brought to bear that will make our organizations more competitive. Those leadership talents are not always the ones we think of because we’re used to a male dominated Board and C-Suite. As we value the more feminine leadership skills, we will begin to recognize and promote those exhibiting those skills – whether male or female.

Another “thing” that’s happened recently is the recognition that we can use “big data” and fancy algorithms to search highly complex interconnections between those people who are successful in a particular function and the discoverable traits that make them successful. Soon, we may not even go to face-to-face interviews, but rather be invited to take an online suite of “tests.” We will land the job (or not) based on how well we fit the profile for that job. (This Podcast is worth listening to in order to get a feel for where this may be going.) What this means is that we will first start gathering data on what traits successful people in a particular role have. Then, we will devise ways to “test” people who apply for jobs in those roles to see what the possibility is that they will be successful. And this, of course, means that everything we do is going to be grist for the big data mill. What we say on-line, where we go, what we buy, with whom we connect, what we say in emails, what our contacts send to us in email, etc. is sure to be grist for the mill.

Big data is all around us now.  We understand it and its consequences in the realm of credit scores.  You may soon have a number on your “hirability.” This hour On Point:  the data-driven hire. — Tom Ashbrook

Marry these two concepts together and you have a powerful picture of defining leadership and team building. I think it’s time that we put all this information and technology to good use and make sure we build high functioning, well balanced teams. What do you think?