Fifty Shades of Grey – Matter

Just in case you’ve been asleep for the last 8 months or so, there’s alot of buzz around gender equality and gender balance in the workplace. Change is long overdue but like many things in life, and particularly in corporate america, change takes time and people don’t like it. One of the most interesting aspects of this entire issue for me is the unfortunate need to “make a case” around gender balance in leadership. While I happen to advocate passionately around balance and equality, I also see extreme value in the fact that the genders will never be “equal” (there’s a difference between equality and equal). Actually, suggesting that they should be would be detrimental to any group of people trying to accomplish something.


While I hear alot of people stating the obvious around this subject, I don’t see much discussion around all of the science that would support, without a doubt, the need for embracing gender diversity at the leadership table. After all, no coach with her/his eyes on a trophy could build a winning team with only one type of athlete, one skill or one way to get across the finish line. At the most basic level, assembling a winning leadership team means finding the fifty shades of gray….matter that is. And leveraging the strengths and full potential of the collective brain power.

The brain continues to fascinate and enlighten researchers but it’s a scientific fact that only a small percentage of people have a distinctively male versus female brain. That complicated piece of mush in our thick skulls can actually be just about anywhere on a spectrum, male on one side, female on the other, the position of which determines exactly how we are wired to think and respond. The male and female brain are physically very similar however what defines the gender difference is the neural networking which drives decision making, information processing, physical and emotional reactions. These are uniquely gender influenced. For example, there is a long standing stereotype that women are more emotional than men. This is scientifically false. According to the neuroscience, what the female brain possesses versus the male brain is better “emotional eyesight.” Women can literally see more details in their emotional landscape which in turns effects how they react. There are many more examples on both sides of the gender spectrum that support diversity of brain power throughout an organization and in leadership. The power of which will never be realized without both women and men (and everything in between) at the table.


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