Does Gender Determine Workplace Strengths?

I recently enjoyed reading Marcus Buckingham’s book, Find Your Strongest Life.  The book explores some of the innate differences men and women experience working in the business world.

Women at Work Vs. Men at Work

According to the book, when it comes to careers overall, women look for careers that resonate emotionally with them,  whereas men are more extrinsic and consider first how much money they’ll be making and how they’ll be perceived.

Women are apparently more self-sacrificing – they think about what’s best for the family, and men are often more self-absorbed – they’re concerned with getting to the next level.  It’s ‘how will this make me and loved ones feel?’ versus ‘what can this do for me?’”

Whether these general distinctions apply to you or not, you’ll benefit from inventorying your strengths regularly.  Buckingham defines a strength as an activity that makes you feel strong and that you look forward to doing.

Identifying Strengths is Personal

The book advises that even if you’re good at something, it may drain you and therefore turns into a weakness.  Rather than looking externally for information about your strengths, taking quiet time for yourself to think about them might be more beneficial.  One tactic is to consider the last time the day flew by and think about what you were doing, because you were probably engaging one of your strengths.

For assistance, women can check out the free Strong Life Test associated with Buckingham’s book, which presents you with various scenarios and challenges you to make decisions.  Members of both sexes may also find the free strengths tests at renowned psychologist Martin Seligman’s website useful.

I’ve taken both and was pretty surprised about what I learned about myself in some areas – for example, just because I have the ability to deliver keynotes speeches on a different stage in a different city each day doesn’t mean this is a career I’m comfortable with.  My own strength lies in having a balance between public appearances and other types of work.

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