Men and women are different on many levels, anyone can tell you this. While they have distinct physical and character differences, another telling difference between men and women is the way they work, manage, and handle different scenarios in a professional setting.
For many years the world of business and the roles of project managers was male-dominated. In some industries, such as engineering and construction this is still the case, but it’s fair to say that more and more women are bursting onto the scenes, and successfully landing project management positions, so does this mean that the world has finally woken up and understood that women are better project managers than men?
In some ways “yes”! It’s fair to say the once misogynistic world of business has finally opened the doors to women in leadership positions. This is a sign of the times, the world has become more equal in terms of women in the workplace, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more suited to the role of a project manager.
The truth of the matter is that both sexes bring different skills to the table in business management. Each sex has its strengths and weaknesses, but what is it about women that make them effective project managers?
Communication and People Skills
There’s absolutely no doubt that women are excellent communicators. It can’t be denied. Women enjoy talking and interacting with others, and they could almost be considered naturals when it comes to instigating conversations whether it’s a formal talk or a casual chat. Talking and being able to mingle with ease is one area where women excel in the area of project management. Men tend to struggle with what they’d consider to be idle chit-chat, but it’s often this friendly talk that warms the clients up and gets them on your side from the get go.
A good communicator will create a better atmosphere. There will be more transparency, and team members will feel more comfortable. When a person is able to have informal conversations at regular intervals, it will mean that problems that arise can be dealt with immediately without the threat of them negatively impacting the project. In short, projects have a better success rate when open and honest conversations take place.
It doesn’t stop here. Many people can talk the talk and walk the walk, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good communicator. It’s not all about just talking and listening to others, you also need to be able to record and document well, so you can produce clear well-written reports to wow those interested parties, and this is something that women can do meticulously.
It’s the Simple Things
Complex things can be daunting. Men often have the tendency to throw in a lot of jargon and technical talk, which can often put people off. It’s not that women make it look easy, it’s that they’re able to find the right balance. They don’t produce amateurish easy-to-read documents and reports, but they don’t provide you with pages and pages of mind-boggling numbers and technical talk either. They have the ability to highlight the necessary concerns while also providing their clients with all the necessary reassurance that everything will be okay and all their business objectives will be met within the stated conditions.
In essence, females can and will make a complicated issue appear uncomplicated.
The Power of Motivation
Because women are able to communicate well it also means they are good at motivating others. They take more of a personal interest in individuals, and show sympathy when necessary. This is why women are able to create loyal teams made up of motivated individuals.
This doesn’t mean that men can’t motivate. Of course they can. It’s just that sometimes women have the ability to make it look more effortless. Women know how important praise is, and as they are less aggressive in terms of their competitiveness, they will discourage competition amongst team players and encourage teamwork instead. They know that a team that’s motivated will always achieve more than a team that’s dispirited.
This is why women are so efficient in managing projects. They have excellent communication and interpersonal skills; they value teamwork and know how to build a team of motivated workers.
Building the Environment
Not only are women meticulous in their logic and way of thinking, they’re also creative. These skills combined make the way for innovation, and when innovation is used the project will exceed its expectations, which of course leads to project success.
A good environment also relates to people’s attitudes. Women have an innate understanding that egos can cause problems and fractures in a team. Such issues can cause a project to fail, which is why every team player must be on board and working towards a common goal — success. Blame cultures don’t work, and because most women don’t allow egos to get in the way, they’re able to accept when they’re in the wrong. They don’t dwell on it, they simply get over it and move on.
Multi-task to Move Forward
It’s no secret that women are better multi-taskers than men. They can juggle a number of different tasks at the same time, which helps them to tackle unexpected issues well if and when they arise. Priorities often change in a project, that’s the nature of business, but it doesn’t seem to faze women as much. They look at it in a pragmatic way and deal with any changes to staffing, budget or other requirements. Or if this fails, they put together a plan B without any fuss.
But just because women are excellent in communicating, collaborating, and multi-tasking, it doesn’t mean male project managers are worse or less efficient. Male project managers have different skills that they bring to the table.
Authoritative Communication Gains Respect
Although women are often praised for their strong communication skills, men are also strong communicators. They have the ability to speak with authority, and their confidence will often win over other team members and get them to buy into their ideas. This is a powerful trait to possess if there is any uncertainty lingering in the group because they’re able to convince others with ease.
In terms of documenting and communicating via email, men are usually more concise. Instead of adding unnecessary details, they’ll get straight to the point, which allows everyone to focus solely on the business goals.
Like women, men don’t worry about all the different options. They’re able to remain levelheaded, which in turn helps them to stay focused and get the project completed well within the given timeframe.
A Strong Project Team Matters
Female project managers are less competitive, and while this can have a positive effect, sometimes a man’s innate sense of competition is motivating. People respect those who have a strong can-do attitude, and often those who work on projects prefer to be surrounded by people who won’t accept any type of project failure. It’s common knowledge that most people work better when a little bit of pressure is applied, and although stress is generally seen as a negative, the truth is it does deliver results in the end.
Bring on the Challenge
Men welcome challenge. They often strive towards it. They take on difficult more challenging projects with the idea of success in mind. Because they find it hard to accept failure, they will often go above and beyond, no matter how aggressive they are, to achieve a positive successful outcome. Sometimes there’s just that thrill of proving disbelievers wrong.
Let’s face it, the business world is highly competitive, and to see success, the project manager must also be highly competitive. They must be determined, and this is one personality trait that’s often engrained in men.
Take Risks or…
No great business ever succeeded without taking risks. A number of studies show that men in general are more likely to take greater risks than their female counterparts. Nothing is ever fail-proof, but not being fearful of the outcome allows men to push forward.
If you look at each sex’s traits in isolation, you could easily argue in favour of one. But there’s no such thing as a better sex in project management. Today, it’s not about your gender. It’s about having the ability to balance all of these masculine and feminine traits. It’s about recognising the different skills and analysing a project manager for their successful project and not their sex.