Nick Mills & Adair Jones look at the benefits of working with women
Most people agree that social skill is area of emotional intelligence that is highly important in the workplace. To have good social skills requires a high level of empathy, as well as the ability to relate and find common ground with a wide range of people. It goes beyond just friendliness and the ability to get along with others, however.
People with social skills are excellent team players as they have the ability to move an agenda along and keep focus, while at the same time remaining aware of the emotional climate of the group and responding to it as needed. These people are excellent at making connections, networking, and bringing people together to work on projects. They are able to bring their emotional intelligence skills into play in a larger arena.
In general, women have social skill in spades.
Psychologists report that when women think, they gather details somewhat differently than men. According to Helen Fisher, an expert in gender differences in the brain and behaviour and the author of “Enlightened Power”, women tend to generalise, to synthesise, to take a broader, more holistic, more contextual perspective of any issue. They tend to think in webs of factors, rather than in straight lines, something Fisher calls web thinking.
According to Fisher, men are more likely to focus their attention on one thing at a time. They tend to compartmentalise relevant material, discard what they regard as extraneous data, and analyse information in a more linear, causal path. She refers to this male pattern of cogitation as step thinking.
Fisher explains the phenomena this way: “The female brain has more nerve cables connecting the two brain hemispheres; the male brain is more compartmentalised, so sections operate more independently. Moreover, testosterone tends to focus one’s attention. Women’s lower levels of this hormone may contribute to their broader, more contextual view. Scientists even know the locations of some of the brain regions for these thinking processes. And some of the genes that construct these regions vary between the sexes. One gene, for example, is active in 50 percent of women and silenced in all men.”
According to social scientists and business analysts, women are better able to tolerate ambiguity — a trait that most likely stems from their ability to hold several things simultaneously in mind.
So, if you’re looking to put together a great team, why include members who all think alike when you could benefit from both step thinking and web thinking. Adding women to your team will change the dynamic, taking your team from good to great.