So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
I need to apologize to some of my employees. I just read about a study by University of Toronto researchers who looked at stress levels and health problems of workers and compared them to the sex of their boss. They discovered that women with a female boss have more trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing on work, depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach pain, heartburn, neck and back pain and tiredness than women who worked for a male boss. Uh, oh. And I thought it all had to do with family issues and the economy. What may I have done to my staff? I have twelve women and six men who work underneath me. Fortunately for eight of the women, they do not report directly to me, but have a male supervisor between us. The reason I say that they are fortunate is because women who work for a male boss have less of the above symptoms. The male boss serves as sort of a protective shield. Though no one knows for sure, there were several reasons given but the main one seems to be that women expect more support from a female boss, but often do not get that help and are disappointed. Because they stereotype men as less compassionate and understanding to begin with, there are lower expectations and fewer disappointments. It made me start thinking about how I am perceived as a supervisor. I try to be kind and a good listener. I put myself in their situation and emphasize about the difficulties of being a working mom. I’m usually the first to tear up when someone is going through a rough time and have cried alongside many of my employees male and female. For the most part, I stress that family comes first and am grateful our office has a generous leave policy. Sometimes, though, as I have moved up the hierarchy of the workplace, I have felt forced to set my gentleness aside and think with my head instead of my heart. It is a difficult place to be when you feel that you must “think like a man” not only to survive, but to be effective. I recognize that sometimes a supervisor has to be a disciplinarian and that there are rules and policies that have to be followed, but I prefer to motivate through kindness rather than fear. All of these musings are not to say that I believe men are better supervisors than women. I really believe that the best supervisor has the right mix of both firmness and understanding. God made men and women different for a reason. All types of people are needed in our world and in the workplace. Trying to fit into someone else’s mold of how we should behave just causes problems for the employee and the supervisor! The most important thing is to be aware of our strengths and our weaknesses. Just in case, I plan on stocking my office with aspirin, antacids, sleep aids and business cards for chiropractors.