Work Life

Working for Women

Working at the Farm

I ran into my supervisor from the orchard at the home, farm and auto supply store. She stopped to buy dog food.

At the end of our conversation she asked me to consider returning to work in the fall. She paid for the food, slung the 40-pound bag over her shoulder and headed toward her vehicle and the next errand.

While driving home across the lakes, below aimless skeins of geese forming rough wedges, I considered women who were my supervisors over the years. Women were always better than men.

There is a clear division. When I worked in male dominated organizations like the military and in my transportation career, leadership was rough around the edges, sometimes just plain bad. It was as if men had less formal training in how to manage people, despite degrees from Northwestern, Cornell and Wharton. Women almost always understood their limits and knew what they were doing with a view to the long term. In the day-to-day of worklife, women were clear communicators focused on team results. It felt good to know my role and be part of a successful team.

Men, almost without exception, viewed work through a sports paradigm. With driving social styles, they often used brute strength to push an organization over a goal line. The focus was on results in each accounting period using whatever means were available. Women were no less aggressive in meeting objectives. The difference was it was more fun to work in a female-led environment.

My social style is driving, making the biggest challenge in being part of a team to slow down, listen and observe before taking off for a goal line on my own. I’m not afraid to lead and will. It’s more that tasks before us today require a more collaborative, sustainable approach.  The sports paradigm no longer cuts it.

The distinction between male and female supervisors should be superficial. That’s not been my experience.

By the time I arrived in our garage I was thankful for the many excellent supervisors I’ve had, both men and women. Among the women I’ve worked for I don’t recall a single clinker. I can’t say that about the men.