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Sunday Times STLive By Margaret Harris, 2011-04-16

Q & A: Putting trust in women

Natalie Maroun, chief strategist for LRMG Performance Agency, speaks to Margaret Harris

Your team of consultants and facilitators is made up of mostly women; is this intentional?

Yes, I tend to work better with women and so I hire women more often. To become a really successful consultant, I think you need to have the following traits:

  • Intellect (IQ): you need to be really bright and have the ability to learn very quickly;
  • High levels of emotional intelligence (EQ): there is a strong requirement for EQ which contributes to one's self-regulation and self-awareness. This is a major factor between consultants who are good and consultants who are great;
  • Attention to detail is vital;
  • Finesse: women are generally able to exude finesse better than men. And this is an important part of our business; and
  • Consultants need to be hugely proficient at multi-tasking, which women are just much better at.

Multi-tasking has received some bad press of late, and has been shown to decrease productivity; is this your experience?

I understand that multi-tasking has become a hot topic, and this is particularly in relation to technology and the ever-evolving world of social networking, internet and e-mailing. I agree with this argument completely and believe that people cannot truly be present in any moment when they are constantly being interrupted by their cellphones beeping and their e-mail inbox alerting them to new messages.

Many publications have touched on this. The New York Times has published numerous articles around the effects of this nonstop interactivity and its negative impact on productivity. The message in these articles is that constant technology interruptions make people unable to focus. This leads to them struggling to manage their stress (because they just can't turn off) and are unable to effectively carry out their job requirements. And I couldn't agree more.

When I refer to multi-tasking, I am referring to the ability to carry out a number of tasks within a job requirement and, while completing each of those tasks, to be totally focused and dedicated to each. That means being totally present in each moment of your task, not allowing yourself to be distracted by outside influences and not allowing yourself to be constantly interrupted by the technology streams of our modern world.

Why do you think women are so hard on other women in the corporate world?

It's a sad reality that women are the greatest obstacle to other women in the workplace. In fact, Cincinnati University did a study on the topic which concluded that even though women are better managers, they tend to give far more supervision to their male subordinates and are likely to obstruct their female subordinates. A study in London concluded that women are more likely to wreck their female counterparts' careers in a male-dominated environment. The reason is that they're trying to be more like men.

I believe that the evidence shows us that women trying to be more like men only cause destruction on a personal level and in their work environment. One of the greatest challenges facing women today is themselves. What's interesting is that men root for men, and women root for men, too.