女性领导们,对于那些贬损你的“男孩们”要学会出奇制胜

玛西娅·德夫林(Marcia Devlin)表示,循规蹈矩会很容易让对手做好应对计划,所以要出其不意

五月 14, 2021
A female baseball pitcher symbolising female leaders
Source: iStock

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我认识的大多数高等教育界的女性领导,在她们的职业生涯中至少有过一次关于“风格”的谈话。大概是这样的。

女员工的部门经理要求开会,或者在绩效评估会议上提出这个要求。部门里已经流传了关于她的“反馈”,很不幸,并不积极。人们显然对她的“风格”感到担忧,这也造成了一些焦虑。你看,她的风格有点——我该怎么说呢——唐突,有时显得无礼,直率,生硬,有一种干脆利落的感觉,有时甚至有点尖锐。她有时显得简短有力。上个月有人讲话时,她打断了别人。(还是去年?细节和例子有时有点模糊,很难回忆起来。)

如果你还没有听别人这样谈论过,而且你是一位女领导或事业心很强的女性,那么这种对话很有可能将来会出现。

大学里的男性领导通常不需要考虑风格。我问过的高层人士中,没有一位男士明白我在说什么。男人们穿上衣服,去工作,得到晋升,被任命为负责人。不幸的是,女性的情况并非如此。

对于大学里的一些人(无论男女)来说,让女性担任领导职务可能带来威胁和困难。如果一个女人拒绝了在她的领导风格中展示和善、母亲般的呵护、养育姿态,这种预期的落差尤为难以接受。

如果“缺乏”“柔软”的姿态,而且手段强硬,专注于结果和成果,或者可能还不留情面批评可能不达标的直接汇报,结果可能让下属都感觉到压迫。作为女性,不被喜欢或被认为“不友好”的潜在后果之一是,同事们可能会贬损你,托你的后腿/绊倒你/把你赶回原位。

大学里的男性和女性都有被“暗害”的经历,但这种情况对女性来说更常见,对违反既有的性别规则的女性来说甚至更常见。我认识的许多在学术界工作的女性都有过被“暗害”的经历——尽管这种情况通常是隐蔽的,当你有所察觉时,你也不能总是拿出确凿的证据。

没有遵循性别规范的另一个潜在后果是受到八卦/恶言、谣言的攻击。女性比男性更易成为受害者。恶意八卦可以是关于你的性格、“风格”、情绪管理、个人生活或你人格的任何其他方面。即使谣言是完全错误的(它经常是),像这样的诽谤却能迅速地让别人产生警惕,甚至厌恶或不信任。这反过来会损害你努力建立的人际关系、友情、团队以及和谐的工作场所。它还会损害你的声誉,打击你的抱负和前景。在某些情况下,它会造成更大的损害甚至影响你的精神健康。

作为一名女性领导,对于如何处理行为不佳的男下属时,一位经验丰富的资深(男性)同事给了我最好的建议。他偷偷地指导我,因为他是个好人,他想帮助我。这件事必须保密,因为当我问我的男性部门经理我们是否可以任命这个人作为我的导师时,他说不行。

“马西娅,你的问题是,”在我像往常一样听取了男同事糟糕的汇报后,这位秘密导师开始说,“你的标准太高了。你坚守自己的信念,期望别人也坚守信念,做这一切,你完全是可预测的。”他接着说,“那些男孩们”——他指的是我那些麻烦的同事们——都确切地知道我接下来要做什么,而且他们“每天”都能预测并设想我要做什么。他们在“作弄我”,破坏我的权威,做一些“故意惹我生气”的事情,更糟糕的是,他们“真的很享受”。

“你要反过来,”他建议,“变得不可预测。”

我接受了他的建议。我取消了在那一年与每个“男孩们”的定期一对一的会谈。我给他们每个人都写了一封甜蜜的、个性化的电子邮件。我告诉他们,我一直在反思我们的工作关系,我认为我没有满足他们对于一个领导者的需求。我引用了他们给高级老板的负面反馈,包括关于我的“风格”。我邀请他们随时来见我,或者在他们愿意的时候安排见面。我在结束语中写道,我希望我做出的改变将促进工作关系的改善。

如果只是因为他们现在都对我很警惕,不确定我接下来会做什么就好了,不良行为和破坏行为因此大大减少。我与他们中的每一个人的关系都略有改善——即使只是表面上的改善。他们最终都要求恢复定期一对一的会议。

取消会议很难成为榜样的行为,但作为一名领导者,当做正确的事情并不奏效时,有必要进行彻底改革。

我曾与一些大学和其他行业的资深女性分享过这个技巧。他们都说,它产生了积极的影响。其中一个反馈说感受到了解脱的喜悦。另一个称,她对解除“反对派”的武装感到满意——她这样描述自己的男性同事。

让你的汇报人对你保持警惕并不理想。但这总比让你因为他们的警惕而妨碍你工作要好。

玛西娅·德夫林(Marcia Devlin)是多家高等教育机构董事会的兼职教授和顾问。她曾在维多利亚大学(Victoria University)、皇家墨尔本理工大学(RMIT University)、澳大利亚联邦大学(Federation University Australia)、澳大利亚开放大学(Open Universities Australia)、墨尔本大学(the University of Melbourne)和迪肯大学(Deakin University)担任高级行政和/或高级领导职务。本文摘自她的著作《克服困难:澳大利亚大学性别歧视应对指南》(Beating the Odds: A Practical Guide to Navigating Sexism in Australian Universities)。

本文由陈露为泰晤士高等教育翻译。

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Reader's comments (5)

"Men put on clothes, go to work, get promoted and get put in charge. Not so for women, unfortunately." If only it were that simple. There's a lot of silliness in this article, and its assertions are grossly lacking in sources. Also, there's a difference between firmness and rudeness: that might be where you are going wrong.
As someone who has has "the talk", and who has been blocked from opportunities because of exactly the reasons described in the article, I totally agree that this is a real problem. I can tell you that the words the author uses here are the ones I've heard, practically word for word, in conversations with my direct supervisors. Male supervisors. I've also heard the same talk from mentors, who tell me that my problem is that I try to hold others to the same standards I hold myself to. And that, as a woman - and an immigrant woman - is just not done. I was, however, a bit disappointed by the advice given by the author. While I agree it does work, isn't it adopting the nurturing position that they (society, men, whoever) expect us to have? What the author seems to be saying is to do exactly what those male supervisors, colleagues and mentors want from us: as a woman, you must not be assertive, you need to be motherly and nurturing and self-effacing. I'll say it again, that approach works, I can attest to it. It's just sad that it does.
yep I too have had these 'talks' and recognise exactly the dynamic. When as a female leader you need to move from being friendly and open to more directly managing up or even needing to confront and deal with poor behavior that's when you get the 'bossy', 'brusque', 'blunt', 'aggressive' etc descriptors. The expectation is that you will be nurturing in style. I have never in all my time as a senior female leader heard one of my male colleagues pulled up for 'style'. Even when some of their 'styles' might be very agressive indeed, in those cases they are called 'big beasts' and that is seen as a mark of authority. Let's call this for what this is, sexism.
yep I too have had these 'talks' and recognise exactly the dynamic. When as a female leader you need to move from being friendly and open to more directly managing up or even needing to confront and deal with poor behavior that's when you get the 'bossy', 'brusque', 'blunt', 'aggressive' etc descriptors. The expectation is that you will be nurturing in style. I have never in all my time as a senior female leader heard one of my male colleagues pulled up for 'style'. Even when some of their 'styles' might be very agressive indeed, in those cases they are called 'big beasts' and that is seen as a mark of authority. Let's call this for what this is, sexism.
The comments by Jon McGovern above made me laugh out loud. What a silly man. Thanks for the chuckle Jon.