Saturday, September 16, 2017

Men/Women: Equal and Different.




I'm the douchebag...again.

Her name is Shannon and she is one of the first women to fly Apache helicopters. She served on three continents, led two flight platoons and a line company.

She is a great story-teller; visual and engaging she spun tails and related her history to an audience of risk-taking, aggressive, selling professionals.

The fit was perfect.

Shannon told how she encountered sexism in the military, facing the wind and climbing to the pinnacle - against the odds. She expressed the tension felt while flying night missions in South Korea and leading soldiers. How in order to lead others well, one needs to own their personal story.

Know thyself.

Writer, pilot, leader, mother, wife - Shannon took us on a journey around the world.

Once finished, she opened the floor to questions.

At first, nobody spoke - we've all experienced that awkward segment of silence - hands finally took flight, banal questions flew: "...how did it feel...", "...what is it like...", and my favorite, "...what is your favorite missile?", "Well, the HellFire, of course." she answered.

Gotta love the Hellfire.

I was moving from boredom to angst.

Here we had a bonafide American Hero, a female who led men in military missions speaking to a group of technology professionals - an industry heavily populated by men - and the best we could come up with is "What's your favorite missile?"

So, in the silence just before the speaker asks, "are there any final questions?" my hand shot up and I asked,

"Can you give me three differences between female leaders and male leaders?" 

I heard a few nervous giggles, as a broad smile spread across Shannon's face - I knew she got it.

Her response, "First, I feel its the individual not the gender." - I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point. Her answer was the necessary one, eliciting requisite applauds.

Still, I felt the cool gaze of many - it felt good.

Her second and final answer is more powerful and like a Hellfire, flew over most heads - which I find disappointing.

Shannon put on her game face, looked me in the eye and said,

"One thing I've noticed is that men tend to volunteer for missions before and even though, they are not necessarily prepared. Where women tend to train and prepare to a point they feel 100% ready for a mission."

I didn't ask the question to get the room in an uproar, or receive, "You're a douchebag for asking that question." statements.

No.

Today, there are more women decision makers and insight into how women leaders may operate differently than their male counterparts, I felt, would be relevant.

Her answer was perfect.

So yeah, after she left the stage and during the bio-break, sales professionals, commrades-in-arms, expressed a bit of shock. Some saying, folks were remarking,

"Who asked that dick-head question about male and female leaders?"

Wow.


In this age of the eternally offended, I guess assuming men are from Mars and women from Venus, is considered a microaggression.  So, at the very least my question made some uncomfortable and might have actually offended others.  HUH?

I didn't ask, "Who are better leaders men or women?"  The underlying sensitivity, in my opinion, is the current generation's misunderstanding of equal and identical.

I guess it does need saying, "Men and Women are different."  I said it, I meant it, I'm here to represent it.

Strategic Selling -

If we assume Shannon's observation can be translated into the business realm, would you approach a female decision maker/leader differently?

Or would you feel the need to find a safe-place, squeeze Play-doh, and tear down 100 year old statues?
Reactions:

0 comments:

Post a Comment