Acting Like A Man In The Workplace

by Anja Uitdehaag

“I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.” – Marilyn Monroe

Women leaders need to learn to manage without injecting gender into it. We’re all different! Being different from men (or other women) isn’t something to change or hide. Get over the idea that men and women are complete opposites, that we can never be similar.

There are times in the business world when we (and I mean: men and women) should be competitive or confrontational and there are times when we should seek compromise, cooperation and listen to our emotions. Most situations call for a blend of all of the above and most men and women have the ability to be all of these things.

In other words: most of us display so-called ‘masculine traits’ at times, and ‘feminine traits’ at others, but mostly we operate somewhere in the middle.

Of course there are exceptions. There are businesswomen who are extremely forceful and uncompromising, as well as there are men who don’t go in for ‘alpha male’ behavior.

As long as we are able to find our own voice, adapt our behaviors and at the same time maintain our personal values and integrity we will function well.

As soon as we are challenged to act in a way that is foreign to our nature, our integrity and authenticity come under pressure.

So, “acting like a man” will inevitably get you into trouble. It creates a kind of dissonance if behaviors don’t match expectations. As a consequence you are mistrusted or perceived as non-authentic.

Personally I have never thought of myself as a “female leader” while climbing the corporate ladder. I did what I thought I would be good at, did what I aspired to do, tried to position myself as an objective executive capable of taking risks when required and followed as much as possible my heart.

Succeeding as a leader in the workplace is not about gender. It is about being your own person, so:

  • know who you are;
  • know what you believe and value and act upon those values and beliefs;
  • use your strengths and
  • be aware of your weaknesses.

My advice to you would be: fit in for who you are, take on tough assignments and do your job to the best of your ability and you will be recognized for your good work.

Toot your own horn!


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