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A word about competitive advantage

Men and women are different. They have different strengths and inherent abilities that are somewhat determined by the X and Y chromosomes. Although traditionally women have been seen as “the weaker sex”, they have competitive advantage over men in some areas, claims Przemysław Powalacz, Managing Director of Geberit Polska and lecturer in leadership and management program at SWPS University.

Will we ever see comparable results achieved by women and men in speed or strength-related disciplines in athletics? Probably not. Nature has rather clearly established the rules of the game for homo sapiens (as not all animal species can boast males physically stronger than females), but should we apply the same rules to the human mind, character and personality? Just asking this question may be seen as a symptom of male arrogance. However, for some reason, there are still too many professions where physical strength neither ensures excellence nor it justifies male dominance. Is this right? I think not. Not just because I have had a great professional experience working with women, but because I simply think that women posses many characteristics and skills, which allow them to successfully compete with men on the professional field.

Perseverance

The first characteristic, in my opinion, is perseverance, which is so needed at work to successfully complete a project or to achieve set goals. This is a skill tested and practiced for all those nights, when you have to get up to attend to your crying baby. How many fathers take on this responsibility? How may couples share it equally? For many nights, weeks, and months? If it was as easy as pie, the regular waking and sleep deprivation would not be an effective method used by interrogators to break the toughest prisoners. Yet, women do it uncompromisingly, reacting to the slightest squeal of their babies and in the morning...they often get up and are ready for work, alongside men.

There are still too many professions where physical strength neither ensures excellence nor it justifies male dominance. Is this right? I think not. Not just because I have had a great professional experience working with women, but because I simply think that women posses many characteristics and skills, which allow them to successfully compete with men on the professional field.

Risk assessment

Another great advantage is reasonable risk taking. Not long ago, I spent some time Alpine skiing and I was sharing my experience with my parents. My father watched the videos from the top of the mountains with pleasure, he commented on the weather, but my mother asked me a series of rational questions, such as: do you go skiing by yourself or in a group, do you register somewhere that you are going skiing, how do you ensure good traction on ice, how does an avalanche detector works...? She applied a holistic approach to the matter. I see this type of risk assessment in women quite often. Isn’t making accurate diagnoses an asset for financial controllers or surgeons? Isn’t the ability to perfectly diagnose the condition one of the critical factors of a successful operation, apart from exceptional manual skills (and in this area girls often excel at arts and crafts at school)? I know nothing about medicine, but Jerome Groopman in his book “How Doctors Think” claims that diagnosis is key (I recommend this book to managers).

Intuition

And let’s not forget the woman’s INTUITION. Who hasn’t heard about it? Our mothers, sisters, wives and partners refer to their intuition and use it regularly, often successfully. They apply intuition in situations where not everything can be measured, weighted, and classified by algorithms. Everywhere, where complicated human nature is the key determinant in the development of events and where variability and unpredictability play increasingly bigger roles. When I teach classes at the university, I tell my students that the best leaders are made not born. Because they are! But even if the leader’s acquired knowledge, experience, and acquired professional skills dominate, there is still the area of soft inherent skills, which make a big difference.

 

The article was first published in the Polish edition of "Newsweek Psychologia 1/17”
Magazine available here »

258 przemyslaw powalacz

About the Author

Przemysław Powalacz - Managing Director of Geberit Sp. z o.o. since 2015. Managing Director of Sanitec Koło and Senior Vice President of Sanitec Group responsible for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine (2008-2015). Sales and Marketing Director of Sanitec Koło for Central and Eastern Europe (2004-2008). In 1997, he began his career in the service industry and marketing-related consulting, in Poland and later on in Germany. Member of several supervisory boards, including OTCF SA Supervisory Board, the owner of 4F brand (since 2016). Member of the Advisory Board of the International Management Center at the University of Warsaw. Lecturer in Leadership and Management Program at SWPS University. Mentor of Akademia Przywództwa Liderów Oświaty – an innovative program for developing leadership in education. He conducts individual mentoring sessions focused on leadership, strategy and management. He graduated from SGH Warsaw School of Economics and completed MBA programs at the University of Warsaw and the University of Illinois. He also completed executive education programs at INSEAD, London Business School, HEC Paris, and Harvard Business School

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