No… We Don’t Understand!

The other day, in a Leadership workshop with senior level managers, someone asked me – ‘How do you manage a person of the other gender?’

Not sure of the question, I checked on what he meant and he said ‘I am not comfortable having difficult conversations with women colleagues and team members’. After some digging around, we discovered that the discomfort was because the other person sometimes becomes ‘extremely emotional’ during crucial, difficult conversations.

So, how have you been handling it so far, I asked. He shared – I don’t do much except say ‘I understand’!

This is not a one-off instance when I have been asked this question. Such instances, besides creating an absolute stereotype, show that in all probability ‘We don’t really understand’.

Though things are changing and there are many families and relationships where men and women partake and share responsibility equally – be it financial, home, kids, parents etc., the stereotype is nowhere close to being extinct.

So, no we don’t understand…

A lot is spoken in the corporate world around “diversity”. But from what I have seen, we need to scratch the surface a bit more and answer a few basic questions:

  1. Do we have clarity in what we expect the person to do?
  2. Are your expectations different for the same role if the person is a women or a man?
  3. Is there a bias based on gender?

The opinion of a manager should be based on outcomes of the role and not gender.

Yes, there are dynamics around managing diversity but the focus has to be on what the individual needs to deliver and ensuring consistent communication.

Perhaps, we will then understand!