Boss Lady

The power of the female brain


While the brains of men and women might look the same, the latest research reveals a truth that many of us have suspected for a long time: men and women think differently because their brains actually work differently.

For businesses, this is really exciting news because it immediately doubles the thinking power within their teams.  Creative solutions to common business challenges such as rising costs and increased competition might be more easily found simply by being aware of the gender-based differences in brain function — and using this knowledge when assigning tasks and roles in your organisation.

Understanding the Difference between the Brains of Women and Men

Scans of thousands of male and female brains show there is a greater amount of blood flow and electrical activity in several parts of the female brain. The affected regions of the female brain are those that regulate communication, intuition and self-control, as well as the ability to empathise and collaborate with others.

Women also tend to have more neural connections and activity between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which may be why women tend to view information as a set of patterns rather than just focusing on specific details as men tend to do. These abilities can also lay the groundwork for women to find creative, non-linear approaches to removing obstacles and achieving a solution.

In stark contrast with how a woman’s brain works, men tend to have less impulse control but can narrow their focus to one thing at a time. This means that they tend to analyse information in a linear, step-by-step manner and take independent action rather than seeking consensus before reaching a decision.

Why You Need Both Genders to Achieve Unique Results and Balanced Solutions

As a leader, you are probably already well aware of the importance of focusing on your strengths in order to achieve your objectives. As you delegate tasks to those who are best able to perform them, you increase the focus, efficiency and productivity within your company. Understanding how these gender-based differences in brain activity and function cause men and women to think and behave differently can give you additional insight into how to best assign the tasks and roles within your company.

What Men do Well

Men are brilliant at analysing and breaking systems down into step-by-step processes. They are logical people who can develop clear and systematic plans both for daily work and for future strategy. They are analytical and can make a decision on the spot, and quickly take any supporting action required.

What they are not so good at is being inclusive and patient. They are usually far better at taking a task-by-task approach to their work rather than multitasking.

What Women do Well

Women are gifted with the more refined “people skills” because their brains can pick up and decipher meaning from different nuances of voice or gesture. They absorb the more abstract information that can be hard to quantify, making it difficult to explain why they have drawn certain conclusions. They are intuitive.

The female brain has more neural pathways between the different sections, allowing them to pull in information from a range of sources. Their brains use more cortical areas for verbal and emotive functioning than the male brain, which means they are always aware of what is happening socially and emotionally within their groups.

What women are not so good at is making decisions on the spot. They draw on a huge range of information (compared to the analytical male) and it must all be sorted and assessed before a decision can be made.  While women can be highly strategic, their focus is often on the people part of the systems, rather than the data and detail.

Tapping Into the Female Brain

It is great to see that more and more companies are becoming aware that the female point of view has merit, but some companies still struggle with how to harness that special kind of thinking.

  • Don’t let your women put themselves down. They think just as well, if differently, to your male leaders. Acknowledge their input and the value it brings.
  • Listen to your women. They are a gold mine of information about how your people are thinking and feeling, and that will probably explain many organisational mysteries to you.
  • Educate your leaders and executive to appreciate the power of the mix. Two halves make a whole and two sides of the brain working together cooperatively will give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • Build leadership teams with a gender balance and support them as each learns to appreciate the input of the other.

Companies that achieve gender balance on their corporate boards and in the management and leadership roles of their companies are naturally more innovative, productive and profitable.  Why?  Simply because they have harnessed the power of the female brain and have the advantage of examining data and looking for solutions from both the male and female perspective.

Regardless of your industry or the current economic climate, if your business has failed to achieve its full potential, the solution may be as simple as increasing the number of women leaders in your company. Have you tapped into this amazing resource yet?


About Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald, Director of LeadershipHQ, is a thought leader, consultant, full time single mum and dynamic speaker and writer. Internationally recognised as an expert in leadership and strategy, organisational development and neuroscience, Sonia is an engaging writer who inspires as she educates. Sonia’s key focus is on the strategies behind successful business and leadership. Her articles and blogs are both fun and informative. Taking a neuroscience approach, Sonia shows how the power of the human brain can become the driver for business and team success, pushing your business to achieve and surpass organisational objectives. She has also just launched her amazing EmpowHER program which is taking Australia by storm and building leadership capability and confidence for women across the nation.

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