Laila ALi, female boxer, boxing

Despite us recently celebrating International Women’s Day, the truth is that in many aspects it’s still a man’s world… but that doesn’t mean we can’t play them at their own game…

“We live in a very male-orientated world, in some countries more than others the gender divide is a great one – the men set the rules we’re expected to follow,” says Suraya Turk a leadership coach and consultant at Global Minds Coaching and Consulting. “However, that doesn’t mean we can’t play with them, and win!”

Playing like a man doesn’t mean becoming more masculine or embracing liberal movements to become equal players. It’s not about dominating or power struggling in the home or the office. It’s about knowing your position as a player. Knowing the moves you can make and strategising to play your best game. This means letting go of personal limitation and challenging beliefs that have been built around them.

It’s time to play like man, but from a place of strength and win like a woman – now that’s modern feminism. Here are the rules:

If you don’t like it, change it

According to Gail Evans, former Vice President of CNN who received numerous awards and Emmy nominations for Women, Men and Media, “women tend to live in the world of complaint, to grumble to friends and daughter”, but they never take action to fix it. They become comfortable with what is happening in their lives no matter how unpleasant or disagreeable rather than taking a risk to change it. Women have two options: structure their world around their own choices or let someone else make the choice for them. The latter put someones else in charge of your destiny…

Become passionate about what you do

According to the Huffington Post, a job is no longer about supporting husbands, children or parents. A job for women is a new sense of freedom and independence in the workplace. Unfortunately, many women are unclear about what they want in their career and anguish over where they are going with it. Bottom line is this wastes energy and limits your progress. If you’re going to play the game then play hard. Know what you want and either do what you love or find a way to love what you do! Men are not always content with their jobs; often they find a way to adapt to the daily grind, reconciling it by the prestige, the title, the money or material success.

Believe in yourself

Confidence is needed for success. This can be a major decision maker or breaker. Gail Evans explains: “A lack of self-confidence can damage your career.” Early on in the game men learn they belong at the table and they are comfortable fighting to stay there. Being visible is half the battle. You can’t play if you can’t be seen. You can only be seen if you’re confident in what you know and what you can do.

Take risks

There isn’t a difference in how men and women approach fears. Men are more used to confronting their fears. Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, says that all women should ask themselves the question: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Affecting change, in your career and beyond, requires the ability to stop playing it safe every once in a while.

Accept failure as part of success

Women know what failure is, men don’t seem to know it at all. They’ll agree to set backs or making re-adjustments as a matter of course. Successful women know this too. Failure is not bad, or unavoidable, it’s inevitable on your road to success. Failure is simply a feedback mechanism to change your position. Bottom line, if you are prepared to play also be prepared to fail before rising to success.

Work isn’t a sorority

Women enter the job market as they do social gatherings – we attempt to form and maintain strong relationships. However, personalising the office can cause trouble. Sometimes you have to simply work with people you have an aversion to. When it comes to hiring or choosing a team it’s simple: don’t pick people who are like you, don’t pick people who you like, instead pick people who can do the job! If you’re picked to do the job you must develop a skill of working together with people you don’t like. The key word in having working relationships with co-workers is ‘working.’

Accept that you are imperfectly perfect

It terrifies women that they will be discovered not knowing enough about something and their inadequacies exposed. Men understand that you’ll never know everything you need to. They gather as much information as they need and rely on self-confidence and their abilities to move to the top. Trying to be perfect wastes too much time and energy and dampens your abilities. Women have to leave that superwoman mentality behind. Do the best you can with what you know and learn as you go or delegate to someone who knows more.

It’s not rocket science! Women are capable of leading and succeeding. There is no difference in our biology. The only difference is in the psychology of our conditioning.  Successful women know that it requires a different way of thinking to excel and stand out of their own way.  They are playing by the rules and winning the game!


Words: Suraya Turk