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Guest opinion: Value: The gender-intelligent blind spot


By Tiffany O’Donnell | CEO, Women Lead Change

She may say she’s leaving your company because of work-life issues; however, research shows that may not be the whole story.

Surveys by Gender Intelligence experts Barbara Annis & Associates indicate that work-life issues actually represent just 30% of the reason women leave their jobs. In fact, 68% of women in this study say they left because they did not feel valued in the workplace.

Adding insult to injury to those working to recruit and retain these powerful team members, the majority of these women who said they leave for “work-life” issues took a job somewhere else. That’s right — they’re in the workforce, just not in your workforce.

Gender-intelligent leaders recognize the imperative for all team members to feel valued. One of the most effective ways to do that is to acknowledge that biological males and females, generally, work differently.

In order for our businesses to grow, innovate and achieve maximum results, we need male and female brains at the leadership table. Gender intelligence leans on neuroscience to identify the way the biological male and female brains work differently. (The theory works on a bell curve, acknowledging there are men and women on either side of the spectrum. It is the majority middle that we are discussing here.)

Here is an example of a gender intelligence blind spot. He expects one answer when he asks her opinion. She calls on memory, relationships, cause/effect and other factors that create multiple options when she answers the question. He gets frustrated, she feels not valued. Neither is the outcome the other wants.

Meanwhile, both of their brains are operating according to their structure — the male brain, divergently; the female brain, convergently. If both were gender-intelligent, they would appreciate different thinking, a natural orientation in males and females when communicating, problem-solving, decision-making and leading.

Gender-intelligent leaders:

  • Create gender-balanced teams.
  • Listen deeply from the perspective of the other.
  • Question their own beliefs and blind spots.
  • Challenge others and situations that appear gender biased.
  • Are open and proactively inclusive.

Both men and women deserve to feel valued at work. Research shows, however, a female may leave if she doesn’t. Leadership then has to wonder where she will go.

Tiffany O’Donnell is the CEO of Women Lead Change. She has studied under gender intelligence expert Barbara Annis and now speaks on this topic as well as male allyship across industry sectors. Contact her via email.

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