Monday, June 27, 2011

Walking in a men's world

Having worked and travelled with male colleagues and attended meetings in mainly male dominated worlds, such as ministries and organisations, I noticed small things about testosterone dominated space. These are not profound feminist statements bur rather small personal observations about guys in the work environment.

Men constantly check women out – all the time; some more obvious, some more secret. This does not come as a surprise but is definitely worth mentioning when suited, stiff government officials make obvious moves to check a woman out - top to bottom.

Men are less intense and easy going. It is just true – women are more often control freaks – guys are not or lesser. It is much easier to get along with them when it comes to travel logistics and food choices. The downside of this is that guys also do not notice when their female colleague becomes the bag carrier and secretary.

Guys prefer to move as a pack. They like doing things together. None of them will say it openly but generally, the one waits on the other and plans are made to ‘hang out together’.

The majority are still true gentleman when it comes to opening doors and so on. Whitn regards to official meetings there seems to be more respect for the opinion of men than of women. Guys are listened to or engaged with more carefully. The woman at the side of the man is rather the minute-taker, a contributor but not acknowledged in the same way as the male in the room.

Men talk about toiletries and cosmetics as well. It is a bit of a surprise that those uncomfortable spaces, that I have put some of my male friends through while hanging out at only-women gatherings, do exist the other way round. I am not talking about ‘men-talk’ about women and relationships BUT on matters of personal hygiene. I have to admit I previously thought the average guy just goes to the shops, buys his toiletries, uses them and that is where it stops....but I have experienced it otherwise.

The points are not very profound but what has your experience been?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Freewill or fate? - the Adjustment Bureau

When something goes wrong who do we hold accountable? God or any other higher power, ourselves, our fellow humans? Is it a pre-designed plan or can we influence our fate with something called our freewill? The movie 'The Adjustment Bureau' with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt those intangible concepts receive a tangible outfit in form of the 'adjustment bureau' and the 'chairman'.
Watching the movie I thought about the way life pans out and how often do we say 'things happen for a reason'? A good friend of mine often said to me 'the choices you make in life is the life you lead'.

Making choices involving our full energies, intelligence - emotional, rational and social - carefully weighing up all the options are those choices that influence our individual lives greatly and often also the lives of others.

I hope you have a chance to watch the movie, it is a good one.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Don't say sorry - don't do it in the first place

I used to have a colleague who used to say: ’Just do it. You can always asked for forgiveness afterwards.’ The statement normally received a laughter from around the table and encouraged the one or the other to go ahead. I found it just disturbing.
However, I have to admit, I have acted on this disturbing statement myself. 
If one really makes a mistake, it is truly important to say sorry and I am not promoting anything else. But how about not making the mistake in the first place? You might think now 'that is exactly the whole point about saying sorry. We are fallible - we are humans.'
Most situations on a daily basis are not about the so called ‘big’ rights and wrongs like murder, stealing or betrayal. Most of our decisions are small and banal including those once about doing the right or wrong things.
Small lies to get sympathy and to not look bad – ‘I am late because there was so much traffic and I am really stressed out’ when in true fact I just left late. Being impatient and harsh to someone to get results instead of considering the other person. ‘This needs to happen this way, because I know I am right’– never mind other approaches or other people's feelings.
Even though in movies the big dramatic forgiveness scenes have something nice – I would still say: ‘Don’t do it in the first place’ – Just give it a second thought before going ahead with what you are doing. Yes, most friendships and relationships have something called a ‘grace and forgiveness cushion’ but every time it gets used it wears and tears. Each time you have to say sorry, it leaves a stain on the relationship. Once the cushion is full of wholes or worn up – it is hard to know if you will ever be able to repair it again.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Being a good people's gardener

Part of my daily tasks is to manage people. Despite all the golden management rules great models, books and management tools, each person on a team requires different approaches. I believe it is my role to motivate my team and to awake passion and commitment towards their job; to basically ensure that the team enjoys what it is working towards to and to instill a sense of pride when achieving things with excellence. Easy said but difficult to achieve.
The main question I often ponder about is why is it possible with some people and not with others. Recently I came across the following quote by Peter Senge which made me wonder about the predisposition of people:
'Leaders instigating change are often like gardeners standing over their plants, imploring them: ‘Grow! Try harder! You can do it!’ No gardener tries to convince a plant to want to grow: If the seed does not have the potential to grow, there’s nothing anyone can do to make a difference’
So how does one know if a seed has potential and when do you give up to nurture and fertilize?  The quote was used in a slightly different context regarding ‘instigating social change’ but I felt it addresses exactly the issue I struggle with. The first thing that made me smile about the quote is the fact that I am sometimes exactly that person that stands above the 'plants' and shouts 'grow' without giving enough time and space for it to happen naturally. I am by nature a 'go-getter' and want to get things done rather yesterday which I know cannot work at all times. Otherwise I think I am a good gardener trying to nurture and take care to my best abilities. I am committed to support and constantly assess my way of doing things. I need to however learn how to let go. I need to know when the ball is in the employee's court and when it is time for the person to carry responsibility for their state of being. In my opinion, I would not say that a person is a seed without potential. I believe that there is hidden potential in each human being, but I think there a times when individuals are at a stage where they are not prepared to or able to unlock their own potential. This is the most difficult moment to recognize in a person and then,  to let go as a manger. 
I sometimes wonder if this is not even more difficult being a women as it is our nature is to nurture...

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