Women Only: Breaking the Glass Ceiling; A Baseball Analogy


Ladies, None of us is perfect, and you don’t have to be either

Ladies only please. The first step Your Business Blogger(R) takes in advising women who are managers or who aspire to take on more responsibility is to understand — and appreciate the risk of failure.

And how really unimportant failing is.

Men also need to be reminded of the nature of risk — but men are hard-wired differently from women on risk-taking. Men naturally take risks. Women less so.

Women are indeed more relational and nurturing — but the real challenge is to understand that perfection is not required. No, biology is not destiny, but it is instructive. For example, women are hard-wired not to assume risk. Women as care-givers for infant children know instinctively that failure in her “job” will result in a dead baby. Perfection in constant care and attention and feeding are absolute. Don’t feed a new-born for a few hours and the outcome can be tragic. Women are not permitted any margin of error in infant care. Women worry about children and relationships — Charmaine wrote about this in her book: Mother in the Middle: Searching for Peace in The Mommy Wars. Men worry less about the kids when at work.

We see this in Academia. Studies have shown that male scholars will publish more articles — but they will be of lower quality than compared with their female counterparts. Women will publish fewer papers, but they will be cited by other scholars more than male-authored articles. Women write better articles.

Women, I have also learned from clients and students, are perfectionists: they do not guess at test questions, do not use aggressive test taking or management strategies.

Women prefer all the traffic-control lights to be green before getting in the car to leave town.

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of HP who engineered the merger with Compaq, writes about perfection in her book, Tough Choices. She calls this management philosophy “perfect enough” to encourage HP’s culture that mistakes will be made, but this is the only path to success. “The goal is not perfection; the goal is progress,” she writes.


The Dude getting a hit 2007

In seminars, I review baseball’s at-bat analogy. If a batter only gets on base 4 out of 10 times, he is a super star.

Many women might view with horror a 60% failure rate. But management, like baseball does not deal in perfection. A manager can have a lot of strike outs, but an occasional home run will win games. A .400 batting average will make you a rich woman and win games.

Please watch the short video clip and let us know what you think. Our comments section is down so please email us.


Thank you (foot)notes:

I originally wrote about women getting to first base — so consumed I was with the baseball metaphor — that Charmaine had to remind me that the base running has taken on another meaning in our sex-drenched culture.

Biology is not destiny, but it is a co-conspirator. Apologies to Sigmund Freud.


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