Konstantin Y. Smolentsev
Ph.D., the Academician of IIA, ÑÌÑ
Chairman of Board of directors
IC “SMOLENTSEV & Partners”
Nothing describes the condition of a society better than the status of children, handicap people, the elder and WOMEN in it. To be sincere, in most cases men think about the position of women in society on their internationally known holiday or before another election. Even on the top level it is not denied that men and women have different starting positions, and women are usually paid less than men doing the same job. As the mayor of Saint Petersburg in Russia Valentina Matvienko said, our society is not ready to admit the equality of rights between men and women and “it will take time to change the mentality of Russians …” So what are women supposed to do in this situation? Wait for merci? From who? There is no way back in evolution. Women deserve a better life.
Whether at their own desire or by chance, women more often take reins of management in their hands. From my experience as a manager and a consultant, it is possible to make a conclusion that number of ladies – leaders and owners of business is gradually growing. About a quarter of firms, which I stumble upon, are headed by women. It is hard to define the average age of my clients among women. "The Golden mean" is more often met. Less often – from 18-22 years and up to… age of some of my Clients is still a mystery for me. Women are mainly involved in trade, sphere of service, communication, construction, light industry, bank and finance, tourism, education, public health services, even oil extracting and petrol trade and many other spheres. But that is mainly small and average business. Unfortunately, in large business and governmental bodies women rarely become top managers and heads. And one is sad for our country, being so generous on talents for centuries, when one sees that in the rates of 100 most influential women of the world (Forbes magazine version) representatives of Russia are absent, but widely represented China, India, Asia, along with obviously Europe and US… It is not the fault of Russian women, it is an illness of the society, which has to be cured immediately.
Majority of Business-ladies come to business voluntary.
Approximately the same number is obliged for the changes of their lives to social cataclysms of our governments and to a steady degradation of men's population. For example in Russia, many people remember very well a situation in the middle 90’s. On the background of closing factories and general man's unemployment the burden of supporting families was laid on women – bank employees, experts in consulting, trading agents.
Some receive business as a gift or as a right to own the inheritance.
More often we face a situation when woman is the owner of business. Try to guess how "cloudless" are her business relations with men – i.e. Executive director or even with a woman Executive director? There is no one to blame. It’s just that we are not always ready for comprehending the difference of our expectations and perceptions. We know very little about each other. We forget, that we are not simply a woman and a man who for centuries developed stereotypes of behavior, but the head and the subordinate with different vital values, personal plans and interests. And the most important – we do not change! We do not perceive it as the most complicated problem and a major threat! Unfortunately I have seen it too many times. And I saw the result. A sad result. Not one book of management or psychology has any information about it. Business-school cases dealing with this topic are not discussed. It’s a pity actually! Many companies, money, nerves and even lives could have been easily saved…
Is there a difference between women’s and men’s management style? Certainly there is. It’s similar to the way a women’s model of behavior differs from man's due to those features which nature has defined in a man and a woman. When it is a question of a fashion, clothes – collections always differ by gender. Is non-material sexless?
Often such position is not accepted and even sabotaged by men's part in the virtue of developed sanctimonious stereotypes.
This can cause perplexity among management theorists. If they would ever think about it.
I insist that there are men's and women’s styles of management. Moreover, there are significant differences in men's and women’s management. It is as indisputable as the existence of day and night, sun and the moon.
- Is women’s management more emotional?
- Is it less rational?
- I really don’t think so.
- Is it more firm in defending principal moments?
- Predetermined by the nature.
But this and many other things is a competitive advantage of a Business-lady! Do not hide your advantages, do not waste time on getting rid of "shortcomings", do not try to copy men's (read – "sexless") type of management, but oppose it with your original, unexpected women’s! It is that perfect case when demanding equality of sex-leveling should be prohibited. Women in business, as well as in life, possess a number of conclusive advantages in comparison with the "strong" half of the mankind. Women have more sensitive social intelligence, finesse of feeling nuances and details. Women are more purposeful, communicative, practical and flexible. Feelings of empathy, self-checking and intuition are developed more strongly. Women are more open. At times they are more impudent and even more often persistent and obstinate. But always they are people who combine different social roles. And only they know the price for it!
Business is a cruel phenomenon. It absorbs time, friends, children, family. It cardinally changes life. It gives new goals for achievement and standards in communication. Forces you to sacrifice and demands sacrifice from others. But is it possible to demand sacrifice from your own child? Who will he grow up to be then? Moreover the second half of the family is not that fit cheerful guy from a University course anymore… And that new contender for your hand: does he admire You or Your opportunities? or opportunities of a joint business? Besides that it is not easy at all to maintain femininity in a man's business environment! Where is the solution? Who will earn money for the family? How to bring up children? And what about self-realization, desire to see the world? There are a lot of questions for which we don’t have ready answers but which are important to solve.
If it you face such a challenge (you go into business; you are raised to a higher position; business carries you away more, than you expected), without postponing remove the problem by breaking it up into series of easily solved problems and projects. Of course at first sight it may seem difficult, because changes demand expenses, time, energy and all kinds of resources including financial. Moreover, changes dictate necessity of forming a new line of life.
It is better, and sometimes simply necessary to have an experienced consultant help you in management. You will more likely agree that it is very difficult not to have an independent, competent and accessible 24 hours a day “adviser", whom you can trust completely. He is an expert in business and at the same time a personal psychotherapist, a good friend and a more skilled companion. Consultant is the one who will help you with an advice and give you a hand when you need it the most, who will support you in a difficult minute. Consultant won’t create your life for you, but with a consultant you can certainly change it. Just like how people do not save on good stylists, gynecologists and dentists, you shouldn’t save on a good consultant who will build together with you your fortune. As one of my Clients among women- president of a bank -said: "Finding a necessary consultant in time of the necessity appeared to be more difficult than marrying. Consultant is a "spiritual instructor" in business".
So first of all it is necessary to evaluate the situation as objectively as possible. Try to understand what is so discomforting. Find the reasons of internal and external conflicts. Look at the situation and your position in it "from the side" as if you could judge the situation from the position of each involved in the conflict person. By the way, there are special technologies and methods to help you do that. Remember, accurately made diagnosis is already a big step towards victory.
Secondly, it is necessary for you to put down honestly in detail answers to the following questions: what do I want from life, business, how do I see my personal life, leisure, the circle of people with whom I communicate, desired level of prosperity, house, location where I live, what am I interested in, my strong and weak sides of character, what do I do better than others, what makes me feel satisfied or causes great protest. Chances to make it real will depend on the degree of your honesty, brightness and clarity of the generated details. On this stage usually many things change, especially present priorities which can be considerably or even cardinally transformed.
Following step should become a more precise description (construction of the desirable vision) of the business, your position in it, your duties and responsibilities as the head or owner, i.e. Business lady. Model of the desirable vision of your business should be integrated into the model of the desirable way of life. Moreover, the model of business should facilitate realization of the general concept of life.
Furthermore concrete steps, actions, stages and business-processes are written down to complete the transformation of an existing life and business to the desirable vision, to make your dreams and goals real and achievable. We make an accent on your strengths, which are your personal competitive advantages. We consciously create your individual and thus effective style of management.
And only having all this enormous hard work complete, we begin the realization of the elaborated plan.
I would like to give you an important advice: on any stage of work do not let yourself stay on one place and of course never turn back. New, better quality of your life – this is the incentive which should lead you only forward!
Every business lady has the desire and opportunities to build a happy and interesting life. There might be adjustments in the process of “building”. But it is already a process which inevitably leads to a qualitatively new result. It is a process which changes life, brings satisfaction and happiness in business and personal life thus making life complete and highly desirable. A respected woman and the Head of a governmental structure which I worked with once said: "I have understood that management consultant is just like a doctor in business. Most people turn to them only in crucial moments. And only far-sighted and wishing to be healthy people are engaged with the doctor in preventive maintenance and improvement of their organisms during whole life". This statement coincides with the opinion of my other Client, who is a successful Head of a large trading-tourist holding, loving mother of two sons and a grandmother of three grandsons: "I regret only one thing that I didn’t start building my life and business deliberately at least 15 years ago!”
E-xecutive, September 24, 2004
Devichnik. Online magazine, September 29, 2004
The Siberian Suburb, October 26 – November 2, 2004
“Management and manager”, ¹ 12, December 2004, Kiev, Ukraine
Business and Psychology, March 2005.
Women’s world, March 2005 .
Trendy. Internet-magazine. 2005.
Professional Womans Network, May 24, 2007.
You know, this is exactly what I needed, those aspects, which you open in it (in the article “Woman + Business = Business-Lady?”- auth.) concerning women, and attitudes towards them, are absolutely correct, and I completely agree with them.
With great respect,
Kazakhstan, May 5, 2008.