Women at work: cooperation or competition?

Wonderwoman face

This post came from a discussion with one of my LinkedIn groups, the WPNG

The question was: How do you think women can best help other women succeed ?

I reflected on my experience and the result came with contrasted results.

In the same field, at around the same age, women can get caught into competition.

When they are NOT in the same field, or with different cultures, background, ages, I personally found it much easier to be naturally into cooperation.

4 skills that foster cooperation

We are quite good at networking ( the success of
women social networks) .I belong to the Women's Professional Networking Group in Lyon and it's an ongoing source of inspiration, support and discoveries (plus it's great fun!)

We share the same issues regarding removing workplace barriers, overcoming gender inequity, stereotypes regarding family/career paradox, the role models and ancient archetypes of the woman being a nurterer, a domestic goddess, a mother, etc…We should be the best to give each other "peer support" 

(as long as you are not competing…)

We are quite good also at talking, sharing our feelings, giving support and feedback, bringing out our emotions, being "empathetic" 

We are used to promote others instead of our selves (our husband, partner, brothers,our children).Are we really encouraged to promote ourselves, assert who we are? From my coaching and training experience, there is room for improvement.

Why I
also think women could be their worst enemies? 

I let you discover that in this brilliant article from The New York Times, January 11, 2009 
by Peggy Klaus who coaches executives and leads corporate trainings. 
"A sisterhood of Workplace Infighting" 

Over 15 years, workplaces will shift to a new generation of leaders
. The GenY, the "millenniums" will hopefully transform Management and Leadership.
Read this excellent Blog on GenerationY 2.0
We need to take this new opportunity to create a supportive and positive "safe net" for women to help each other. Well, that's what I believe and practice in my coaching!


Posted in Uncategorized

3 thoughts

  1. Lots of great thoughts here Marion. As someone who works with accomplished, busy women, I completely agree with you that many of us could definitely grow in our ability to leverage the support of other women. There’s been so much focus on being independent and strong that I think many successful women hesitate to ask for help–particularly in our personal lives–it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing we “should” be able to “do it all.” One result of this is that many women don’t have the effective support systems they could benefit from. I find that once we really get comfortable leveraging QUALITY sources of support, our ability to move forward usually increases more than we ever imagined it would.

  2. Marion, as I head off to Olomouc, Czech Republic to lecture on alternate dispute resolution and negotiation it struck me once more how women really don’t have much experience “playing together”. Consequently they tend to see issues as positions – even if they use the language of interests.
    Sometimes it is “if you win then I have to loose: but I think this stems from a “fixed pie” belief that is far too limiting. Women need role models to show them that there is lots to go around and no concessions are needed.

  3. Marion – I agree. There are so few women in senior roles that we have to learn to see each other more frequently as allies rather than competitors. But we compete with each other in so many subtle and at times, more pernicous ways: parenting, the kitchen, hostessing, appearance, our homes – sometimes an outright tackle would be easier. At least we would know what it was! Such a great debate!

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