Achieving Gender Intelligence

I just read an interesting document by Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis which explains the Why’s and How’s to achieve Gender Intelligence. I thought that it is a worthwhile document to be studied in companies as well  as in premarital sessions for future couples.

Understanding How the Male and

Female Brain Work Differently

There are three major categories of brain differences

between male and female brains that ultimately impact

every aspect of our workplaces:

• Differences in neural blood flow patterns. Blood

flow represents the neural activity in a brain at any given

time. In the female brain,more neural activity occurs in

the parts that think in and create words and in the parts

that connect those words to memories, emotions and sensory

cues; in the male brain,more neural activity occurs in

the parts that use physical and kinesthetic intelligence, as

well as spatial mechanics and abstraction.

• Differences in particular structures in the brain.

The hippocampus, a significant memory center in the brain,

plays a key role in women, as women often test out better

than men at remembering the specific and minute details

of interactive situations and events.Have you ever wondered

why men tend to get more “physically expressive”

when they get angry?The amygdala is one possible reason.

The male amygdala is larger than the female amygdala, and

because this structure stimulates more activity downward

in the male brain toward the brainstem (and thus more

quickly into the physical body) and more often upward in

the female brain toward talking centers,men and women

tend to differ in their angry behavior.

• Differences in brain chemistry. Not only do male

and female brains differ in structural components and

blood flow, but they also secrete their chemicals differently.

This chemistry difference profoundly affects leadership

and, ultimately, everyday life. Differences in brain chemistry

can initially be understood when we realize that

males secrete more testosterone and vasopressin (aggression

and territoriality chemicals) than do women. Females, on

the other hand, secrete more of the brain chemicals estrogen,

progesterone, serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin and

oxytocin are less well-known than estrogen and progesterone;

serotonin, among other things, calms our impulses;

and oxytocin, among other things, is a bonding chemical.

Understanding How Men

and Women Lead Differently

Leaders can appear at any level of a company. To get to the

top, you have to be very good at putting yourself confidently

into the daily stress of leadership, whether you are male or

female. Research shows that females, by nature, embody

senior leadership status differently from the way males do.

This difference is hard-wired, and it’s part of gender intelligence,

balanced leadership and gender evolution as a whole.

There are a few basic characteristics found in male

leaders. Male leaders tend to:

• Bond with co-workers in short bursts of connection,

both physical (a pat on the back) and emotional (a

of praise), or through goal achievement that is less tied to

words and emotions and more to action and competition

than that of female leaders.

• Focus on leading workplaces and hierarchies through

order assessment, pattern thinking and ritualized action.

• Downplay emotion, even at the risk of hurt feelings, in

order to play up performance.

• Promote risk-taking and independence of the employee

as long as that risk-taking and independence fits the ultimate

goals of the corporation.

Female Leaders

Research shows that female leaders tend to:

• Bond with co-workers in extended conversations, both

physical and emotional. Women tend to interconnect

data and share common experiences.

• Provide as much hands-on connection to the co-worker

as possible.

• Emphasize complex and multitasking activities, actions,

team development — expanding leadership into various

tasks and away from dominance by one task.

• Search for a method of direct empathy when someone’s

feelings are hurt, even at the expense of other current goals.

• Relinquish personal, daily independence in order to be

cognizant of other’s needs.

The end result of learning about hardwired gender differences

in leadership patterns is not just understanding,

but also practical action.

Ultimate success in all spheres comes when we remain

Ourselves but learn from others. Both women and men

should learn from each other, and both women and men

should be valued in a room. Gender intelligence is and

always will be about tapping into the skills inherent in

the other gender until we feel comfortable in the room

with those skills –– and able to gain allies in those skills

when we don’t feel comfortable.


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