Friday, April 12, 2013

You Play Like a Girl

Britney Griner of Baylor
As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, that taunt was hurled at various boys on the playground. Most of us have heard them, "You throw like a girl" or "don't cry like a girl." The boys that said those things largely grew up to hold the same feelings in the business world. Maybe they dropped the overt taunts, but the sentiment was the same. Women are weaker, they aren't as tough, not as capable. To anyone who would lob the taunt "you play like a girl" at me now, I respond
"I hope so."
This isn't some 'politically correct' game. It isn't about making men and women the same. It isn't about making our boys less capable. Not at all. What it is about is recognizing that talent and skills are defined by each individual's capabilities. Abilities that are not rooted in gender. That does not mean that men and women are the same. Gender differences are apparent in many things. How we approach challenges being among the biggest. Let me tell you, that is one heck of a good thing. When we lead as a gender we struggle. 66% of people surveyed in every corner of the world said "the world would be a better place if men thought more like women." I am here to try and help make that 100%.

When we lead as a team, when we respect and value each other's opinions, we win. This applies in the board room as much as it does on the playground.

Which brings me to my recommendations for today:

First, Watch the video below of John Gerzema (@JohnGerzema) speaking at TEDxKC last year. Go and reserve a copy of his book, The Athena Doctrine. Read it next week, and start implementing the thinking. I guarantee that the work he and co-author Michael D'Antonio did with researching how people think, and what we want out of our world, will change the way you approach your day-to-day life.

Second, If you are a man. Try and play more like a girl.
It will be tough to reach that high, but I have confidence that you can do it.
Need more reason? Our kids already get it. They are already learning that teams composed of equal genders, and when men think a bit more like women, we make better decisions.

Finally, get involved in your local community. There are many organizations dedicated to this challenge. Here in Kansas City, we have WinWin. Find an organization like WinWin near you and contact them.

Rob Fields (@RobFields) of PSFK recently interviewed Mr. Gerzema.
The following is a small excerpt that I feel hits home. The Millennial generation gets it.
Now we all need to. Read Mr. Field's full article and interview HERE.  

The Athena transformation is being driven by young people. How so?
The millennial views are hugely important in this shift.  They just don’t see the world in such stark contrasts.   They can see leaders being more collaborative, more empathetic.  This doesn’t suggest people are soft.  Rather, they’re fierce.  They’re building interesting businesses.  They’re just realizing there’s a different path to doing it.  There’s nuance, listening, communicating, there’s being flexible.  Being patient.  People that were willing to give in and think about long-term implications of problems, rather than focusing on short-term expediency.
For example, there’s the lead city planner in Medellin, Colombia, who’s combating the violence that’s marred Colombian society for decades by devoting 2/3 of the city budget to people under 40.  Digital schools, free schools, free libraries, free healthcare.  Basically, anything that provides infrastructure for youth.
Or, in Germany, there’s Felleshus (a Danish word for “house for everyone”), the five nations embassy where countries pool resources, share support staff, and work collaboratively, both for economic development and public policy.

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