Be brave, not perfect. It’s my new mantra.
I had the opportunity to take part in an interesting talk about diversity and gender gap in the work space last week . It’s the first time in my life that such sensitive subject has been unfolded and finally analysed in the corporate environment, that it’s often quite male hierarchy oriented.
Some male attitudes I have faced in the past, during meetings in Italy – worse than some English offices – they now have specific names. Words as manterruption*, bropriation** or ***micro-inequalities, better described how women can be patronized in the work environment.
Why manifestation of hubris are commonly mistaken for leadership potential
There is some kind of inability in discerning between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence. We are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential.
The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Of course, of course not all men. But enough of them. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men.
How we can react
It comes to my mind the ancient Prassagora who, in the Aristophanes comedy, exhorts her companions to think and to speak as men to get out of the state of subordination. And yet it was not enough to give up on femininity, by usurping the “winning” manners, it was also necessary to hire men’s clothing to be seen as superior (feminine). You had to give up your feminine identity if you wanted to be respected. Now if this in the ancient Greece was required to reach a more just and well-ordered society, today such renunciation it would only underscores the inadequacy of women. For decades we believed that to be a leader we needed to hire man attitudes.
The reality it’s that you should be able to be recognised for your own qualities and be brave enough to be yourself in any circumstances.
Being a leader or just ask for a pay rise, it can be often a difficult task if you believe that you’re not good enough. That ‘prove again cycle’ force you to feel that you need to be perfect, in order to get a promotion or just to be recognised as a valuable member of the team. While men are often evaluate on their potential more that on their actual results.
Developing positive intelligence along an inner confidence it can be the first step to achieve what you want.
Confidence comes from clarity of values, skills, accomplishements and purpose, said Arjan Eenkema van Dijk, Executive Coach, during an interesting talk at “See it Be it” in New York a few weeks ago.
As Eenkema van Dijk suggested to:
- Be perfectly imperfect – accept your negative side
- Taking care of oneself – self respect
- Set yourself free from self judgement, to be less judgmental
- Stop worrying – worrying doesn’t make tomorrow lighter, just today heavier
- Living the moment – the present is a gift
- Being connected to a greater meaning/cause
In other words be brave means be proud of who you are, taking care of yourself in any possible way and start to refuse the idea that being perfect, it is the only way to be successful in life.
What do you think?
* It’s a pretty self-explanatory term, describing a behavior when men interrupt women unnecessarily, which leads to a pretty serious imbalance in the amount of female vs. male contributions in a conversation.
** Our ideas get co-opted (bro-opted)
***Micro–inequity is a theory that refers to hypothesized ways in which individuals are either singled out, overlooked, ignored, or otherwise discounted based on an unchangeable characteristic such as race or gender.