Leading Men at Work

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How to lead men in a professional setting: I'll admit I don't have much to say on this topic. It's not because I haven't led men, and it's not because the topic doesn't matter. It's because I don't think a lot needs to be said. When women lead men in their work, gender doesn't have to be an issue.

In general, women with leadership gifts know how to lead people. And as you practice your skills and receive training, you grow in those abilities and hone your instincts. If you can successfully lead women, you should be able to successfully lead men. Whether gender becomes an issue is largely up to you.

So how can you keep it from becoming an issue? Cover the basics. If you're charged with leading men in a professional setting, here are five ways you can apply good leadership principles to leading them:

? Respect them as people. This is just as important for women you're leading, but for some women respecting men might be more difficult. Let's face it: many of us have family-of-origin or other issues that taint our relationships with men. If you try to lead anyone who doesn't feel your respect, you won't get his best work and he won't follow you anywhere he doesn't have to. Respect that each man you lead is a unique individual, and don't carry your baggage into your relationships with them.

? Respect yourself. No one wants to follow a leader who doesn't respect herself. Men, like women, need to know that their leaders are strong enough to overcome obstacles, fight for them when necessary, and take them where they need to go. And if a man has preconceived negative ideas about women, you'll only reinforce them if you don't respect yourself. Two things to avoid: giggling like a little girl (would you want a little girl for your boss?) and trying to be like a man (what's the point?). Please accept yourself and find joy in being the woman God created you to be. Believe that God has placed you where you are because he wants to use your gifts there. Others will believe it too.

? Accept your differences, then move on. No two people are alike. When you're leading men, some of the differences you'll find are gender-related; most aren't. When you're leading women, you'll find plenty of differences between you. In relationships with men, please don't make the mistake of assuming that all of your differences are gender-related and you'll never be able to understand one another. Get to know men as people, just as you get to know the women you lead. Refuse to view them through stereotypes and assumptions. Acknowledge the ways they're different from you, then move onto working together productively, with each of you employing your unique gifts and personalities.

September23, 2008 at 9:00 AM

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