Celebrating Women’s History Month: Tools and Tactics For Women At Work

In her weekly blog, author and organizational development expert Dr. Anne Litwin sites study after study that conclude that women perform better than men in areas of leadership, management and decision-making. Yet women only make up 3 to 4 percent of CEO’s worldwide.

For example, Litwin points to one study where women scored higher than men in twelve of sixteen leadership competencies. In a Gallup study, women outscored men on eleven out of twelve measures of engagement – which is a significant contributor to company performance. About another study she points out that women are better decision makers under stress. The unique strengths women bring are that they are more attuned to others’ needs while men become more egocentric. Women take fewer risks in a crisis and look for common ground.

Links to Dr. Anne Litwin’s articles about women performing better as leaders:


The Relationship Double Bind For Women At Work

How women – particularly those in leadership roles – relate to other women can make or break them. According to Dr. Anne Litwin, when women say they don’t like working for other women, it’s because their relationship expectations are often different than the reality.

In Litwin’s book “New Rules For Women At Work, she writes that women are victims of a double-bind. The traditional masculine workplace values and rewards being task-focused and autonomous.  But women are also expected to be more relational and friendly than their male counterparts.  This characteristic is expected, but it is not typically rewarded.

Litwin adds that women are raised with the common belief that they are all supposed to equal – no matter what our position. When this belief is challenged by rank, the higher-ups need to help colleagues talk through issues and reach agreement about work relationships and expectations. This rarely factors into male-female or male-male relationships at work.

Role Hats Help Define Boundaries for Women At Work

Women in the workplace face a challenge that men often don’t. The relationship boundaries between women who work together are sometimes confusing and often run counter to how they typically relate to one another.  This becomes even more of an issue when a peer or friend becomes the boss.

Dr. Anne Litwin’s book “New Rules For Women At Work” suggests using “role hats.” This is a process for switching communication styles depending on the nature of the interaction. Different rules apply when wearing the “friend role hat” versus the “boss or co-worker role hat.”

Using “role hats” requires that all parties understand and agree in advance to what the expectations are for each type of interaction. Name each role and discuss each person’s needs when in that role. Decide on ground rules. For instance it’s okay to ask questions like “which hat are you wearing?” or “can you change hats for me right now?”


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