The Business Women’s Network of Howard County (BWN) has a theme this year: “Women and Success: Knowing and Claiming Your Value.” This year’s theme was chosen because many women face this challenge in their business and personal lives, and it seemed as though it was time that BWN as an organization addressed this issue head on.
When the question, “What is the difference between men and women in business?” is asked, women often feel the need to say there is no difference for fear that it is a sign of weakness if they are different than the men. In reality, there are many differences between men and women in business, and some of those differences actually benefit women. What are those differences, and how do they help women in business?
A well-known difference between men and women is that women tend to be (not always) better multi-taskers. Men often are praised for their ability to “compartmentalize,” because the perception can be that compartmentalizing makes you better in the workplace. But women’s ability to multitask can be an asset in business, as well.
Think about the last time you had the luxury of having only one priority and one thing to do at a time? Can you even remember a time when that was the case? When there are so many competing priorities, those who are able to be aware of all of them and handle them without feeling overwhelmed have the advantage, because it is really nothing new.
In general, women ask more questions than men and often are better listeners. Asking good questions and listening can benefit you in business in a multitude of ways.
People who ask better questions and truly listen to the answers make better leaders. Teams and employees need to feel like they are being heard and that “their” perspective matters in decision-making or in how things are done. When you ask questions, the assumption is that you don’t have all of the answers, or at least are willing to let other people discover the answers for themselves. And listening is one of those critical factors in success, and yet can be overlooked as a contributing factor.
In sales, many believe talking makes the sale. In reality, salespeople who listen well not only make more sales, their customers are happier with their results. If you are listening, you are able to provide a solution that meets the needs of your clients, which means they are more likely to get the results they desire when purchasing your product or service.
A third difference for women is how they perceive their value. Women have a tendency to want to prove what they have to offer before getting compensated appropriately. This is not unique to women, but women often operate within the mode of, “If I do a good job, I will get compensated fairly.”
This can be a blessing and a curse. If one believes that doing a good job is critical to appropriate compensation, then that person will have a commitment to doing good work. The challenge comes in the reverse of that thinking. If you are not compensated fairly or adequately, does that mean you didn’t do a good job?
Women who realize their worth and the worth of their knowledge fare better. People will only believe you are worth what you say you are worth if you do. So, money or compensation in any form doesn’t come in the appropriate amount until you know you deserve it.
BWN’s focus this year is on helping its members discover their value and start earning it, in their jobs or in their businesses and lives. BWN provides a nurturing environment for women in business because the members are supportive, talented and at varying levels in their businesses and lives.
New members and meeting attendees get to discover that people are interested in what they do and how they can help. One of the best parts of being surrounded by other women in business is discovering that you are not alone, and there are other women who have gone through or are going through the same challenges you are. This is how we grow and succeed.
Visit BWN’s web site, www.bwn-hoco.org, to discover how the organization supports women in business in Howard County.
Allison Herstein Moran is president, 2011–12, of the Business Women’s Network of Howard County. She can be reached at 301-346-2859 and email@example.com.