Think you have to become a hard-nosed b*itch to run a successful business? Studies show that women in business tend to be quite the opposite – compassionate, apologetic, self-critical and great at assessing social risk.*
Creative Business Coach, Simone Milasas, agrees that men and women do develop different ways of doing business and she maintains that understanding your business style – and that of others – can be a vital step in creating business success.
'Do you do business like a man, or like a woman?" Milasas asks. 'That may sound outdated in this modern world but, you'll be surprised – it often has nothing to do with the body you are in", she adds.
According to Milasas, a man's style of business is direct. He wants to get straight to the point, give or receive information and then make a choice. A woman's way is to talk about things at greater length. She will want to discuss how things could work and what her feelings about the project are. She will ask, 'What do you think about this?" and she loves to be asked this question herself.
'Even today, there are expectations about how we will conduct business based on our sex, and this can limit us in many ways", Milasas explains. She encourages anyone in business to see beyond social pressures and expectations, and learn to embrace their natural business style.
'Sometimes women think they need to become tough, disconnected and mean in order to be successful in business. Nothing could be further from the truth! Women can be great manipulators in business; they can make things go the way they wish and bring everyone else along with their ideas and plans", Milasas remarks.
For men, the pressures of appearing knowledgeable and powerful can create destructive business habits. 'For the last 2,000 years, men have been taught to give orders and follow orders. The man who has been following orders, once he comes into a point of authority, tries to make others follow orders too, because that's what he did. These men tend to make arbitrary decisions and they expect people to do what they're told. The difficulty with this approach is that these days, very few people are willing to follow blindly", Milasas explains.
Simone Milasas offers three simple questions to ask, to help business deals and relationships easier and more fruitful:
1. Does this person do business like a man or a woman?
2. What do they require?
3. What would make this business deal/project be created with ease?"
'At the end of the day, every choice you make in a business should be about what will create more for yourself, and does it match what you would like to see created in the world?" Milasas remarks.
Simone loved business from an early age and wished to learn everything she possibly could. She worked at everything from warehouses to national sales management to owning her own importing company from 3rd world countries. She is currently the worldwide coordinator of Access Consciousness, a major multi-million dollar company that operates in approximately 49 countries. Simone has run the successful and growing Australian company for over 12 years. She is the author of Joy of Business and is currently working on her second book, From Debt to Money Play.
Question: Why do you believe the gender bias is stronger toward women in business?
Simone Milasas: Gender bias is created on expectations and judgements, usually on what has been the -status quo' in the past. The business world has historically been seen as a male domain, so even today there are expectations that to be successful in business, you have to act a particular way: more 'like a man", more direct, more forceful and so on.
In truth, these are just points of views that we use to limit ourselves and what we are capable of accomplishing.
Point of views like this aren't indicative of what's actually possible, and it's important to see beyond them. They're also not indicative of what is happening out in the world – so many women are exceptional entrepreneurs and creative business owners. They are very successful, and they are doing it their way!
Many women judge themselves in business, they believe they have to get it -perfect' and worry about making the right decisions and avoiding the wrong ones.
If women look to stereotypes as the guide for how to be in business, and they perceive themselves as not able to align with them, they can tend to discount themselves and their own talents.
Question: Is this why women are less confident than men in workplace?
Simone Milasas: Anytime you judge yourself and your difference, instead of embracing it, it stops you from seeing the opportunities and the brilliance you can bring to the table. And you will feel less confident, because you are trying to believe that what you are is not enough, or is wrong, when in fact it's not!
You have to start looking at what you have available to you, what is different about you, and be willing to use it to create what you want.
Question: What surprises you most about the opinion of women in business?
Simone Milasas: What truly surprises me is how quickly opinion can change when you are willing to not just buy into it as true!
As a woman in business, the biggest favour you can do yourself is to come out of judgement of you, about the way the world works, and look at what you have going for you, and the choices you have available. I see women (and men) all the time choosing to be different in business, and follow their knowing, not the current paradigms, with amazing results.
Question: What does it mean to do business 'like a woman"?
Simone Milasas: A woman's way of doing business is to talk about things at greater length. A woman prefers to discuss how things could work and what her feelings about the project are. She will ask, -What do you think about this?' and she loves to be asked this question herself.
A man's way is often much more direct. He desires to get straight to the point and give or receive information and then make a choice from there.
You may know women who like to do business more like a man, or men who like to do business more like a woman. Or a combination of both. What we are talking about here is really just different styles of creating in the workplace. There is no one way that is better or worse.
Question: What are your top tips for women to be more confident and proud to do business 'like a woman"?
Simone Milasas: Firstly, remember that doing business like a man or a woman is not about the body you are in! Some men do business like a woman, some women do business like a man.
Ask yourself, what is your style? How do you prefer to do business? And use this question for the people around you - do they do business like a man or a woman? What's required with each person so that doing business with them works for you?
Secondly, stop judging you! Ask yourself 'what's right about that way I do business that I am not acknowledging?' Often, a person's greatest strength is the thing they have decided is their biggest weakness!
Thirdly, be curious in your approach to work - ask lots of questions. The target with asking questions is to have more awareness for yourself, not to find answers. What if it isn't your job to be the 'Answers Person"? What if it was your job to look for possibilities? You do this by asking more questions, such as 'what's possible here that we haven't yet considered?"
Question: What traits make women so valuable within a workplace?
Simone Milasas: Mainly, it's your willingness to look at things from different angles and not come to a conclusion that 'this is the way it has to be, we are doing this, don't ask questions!"
True entrepreneurs, people who can truly get things done, have more questions in their universe. Their approach is, -What does this person know and what can they contribute?'
Women also have the capacity to be great manipulators in business; they can make things go the way they desire them to go, and bring everyone else along with their ideas and plans. Do you know how easy things are for a woman if they used a little manipulation?
Some people define manipulation as deceitful or fraudulent. But the true definition of -manipulation' means to handle a situation artfully, easily or skilfully, and that's what I'm talking about, and it's a great contribution to the workplace.
You do not have to be forceful, confrontational or direct to get the desired outcome. Women can use their feminine attributes to their advantage in business!
Question: How do men and women dramatically differ in the workplace?
Simone Milasas: At the end of the day, it's really not about the anatomy you have that creates the difference!
I talk about understanding a 'man's way" and a 'woman's way" of doing business because it is a great tool that gives you more information – and with more information you make clearer choices. And it allows you to see what's required when you're doing business with people.
However, it's not significant. It's not about saying -men do this and women do this and that's just the way it is'. It's a tool for having more awareness with individual people.
Are you willing to step out of stereotypes and expectations and discover how you work? How other people work? And are you willing to use that information to your advantage in the workplace?
Question: What should women ask themselves every day, before stepping into the workplace?
Simone Milasas: There's lots you can ask! Start by, every morning, letting go of all your expectations of yourself and the workplace / business. What if every day you get to start fresh? What if every day was another opportunity to out-create yourself?
As you go through your day, ask questions, like: What is possible here that I have never considered? What contribution can I be and receive with the people at work today? What would it take for today to work out better than I could possibly imagine? What needs to change here? What questions can I ask that would allow this to change?
And remember, use questions as a way to open up doors to possibilities and insights you might not have considered before, not to find answers!
Interview by Brooke Hunter