Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
In a recent blog, I talked about a double standard for women on television. Even serious “business” reporters appear to need glamour with lots of hair and make-up, while the men are immune. So you can imagine my frustration when I came upon an article on Forbes.com called “Flirting Your Way to the Corner Office.” Really? The article mentions a book by Nicole Williams who is quoted as saying, “Using flirtation is just smart. If you need someone’s help, use the tools available…” So, let me get this straight – your best available asset is flirting?
The Forbes article described “professional flirtation” as an extension of good networking and mentioned smiling, eye contact and developing relationships. So far, so good. Those are all positive qualities which can lead to success. However, the article also discussed “giving an authentic compliment or offering a touch on the hand.” Seems to me the only thing you may be flirting with here is danger! If your conduct is taken seriously by a male colleague, a sticky situation can result when he tries to take you up a perceived offer. Or, on the other side, he may find your behavior inappropriate or offensive and call you on it. Either way, this is not the path you want to take to achieve long-term business success.
In fact, the article’s recommended course seems both unnecessary and demeaning. Unnecessary because women have many special qualities that should be emphasized as they advance as leaders, and there’s no need to resort to risky and unbecoming tactics. In fact, research shows that of seven interpersonal leadership skills, generally women excel in five: listening, empathizing, attending, ethical analysis, and maintaining respect in conflict. (Men stand out in decision-making and speaking with authority.)
So why not emphasize all the unique qualities we women possess? Let’s use our intuitive understanding of people to connect with those around us in a positive way and to create collaborative work environments where individuals share information, are concerned with the needs and wants of others, look for inclusion, and minimize the need to use power. Though there are certainly exceptions, these are attributes which have been used to describe the workplace style of women. Women don’t have to stoop to unseemly tactics to get ahead. Using your innate skills, attributes and personality to connect with others will go a long way.
How do you see it? Please share!