Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
I’ve been following the story of a man I know who rose to a top executive position followed, several years later, by a spectacular descent. He’s always been the consummate ‘good old boy’ with the network firmly behind him, which is how he got to the powerful position in the first place. He has the personality to convince others that he knows his stuff and is the right person for the job. But recently, his name has been all over the newspaper linked with his company’s financial disaster, and I’ve wondered how he is able to continue accepting awards, sitting in front row seats at sporting events and generally being out there in the business community. The answer? He’s a male who’s confidence trumps reality, and who can blow it and move on.
It’s not that all men are built this way and all women are not, but both observation and research have shown that more men than women have the mindset and specific inherent traits that cause them to react differently to business situations.
In a research study I did, a majority of women said that men are better at promoting themselves. This may be a result of the fact that more than half of those same women felt that women are less confident in their professional abilities than men are – even when their skills are equal to or better than their male colleagues. And confidence is key.
We’ve all heard stories about men who have stepped up for jobs and been promoted with half the skills and experience of their women peers. The men see the promotion as an opportunity to jump forward and they figure they’ll be able to handle whatever the position entails – or they’ll find the resources and support to do so. In the survey, one woman said, “Men would tend to apply for jobs if they had 30 percent of the job requirements. Women would not apply unless they had 100 percent.” This is true. Men are just not as self-critical as women, who analyze and worry about qualifications, decisions they make and how people feel about them. Most women are not socialized to have the “killer instinct” to take risks, compete with everything they have, assume all the power and, even in the face of failure, continue to move forward with confidence and without a backward glance.
So, back to the executive at the beginning… I’ll bet he takes none of the blame for what happened to his organization, gathers his allies around him, and quickly finds a new position of power. You know what? I’ll be watching. I think I may have something to learn from him.
What do you think? Please share!