Business is a Game

July 2020

We cannot deny that men and women approach the world of business differently.

Men use their business relationships – often it’s about building a network – pure and simple. By and large, men are not at work to find meaning or fulfillment. They are there to play a game and – most importantly – win. I witnessed this while engaged with a women’s group looking for potential investment. We were working with a group of male advisors. While we were assessing a potential deal, the group of women were analyzing the pros/cons and emotional ‘fit’ on the relationship while the men were focused on the ‘winning’ strategy. Neither was right or wrong, but it did highlight the differences to me of men and women.

For women, meaning is far more important. Many studies have highlighted that finding meaning in their work is a prime predictor of high satisfaction for working mothers.

Often as women we are not clear about what we want from our careers. We internalize things more and we personalize. We also look for greater meaning in everything we do.

Whereas women identify strongly with the work they do, and it becomes a part of who they are, men seem to be able to separate themselves from their work. They almost compartmentalize. And the male approach to business is simply this: game on! You win some and you lose some! For men, business is something outside of who they are; it’s something they do. Instead of internalizing things the way many women do, they realize there are battles and there is the war. You can lose some of the battles and still win the war. Men don’t wallow when things go wrong; they simply get up and keep fighting, and move on to the next battle.

You see, the games men played when they were boys were mainly sports and physical games, games that are all about winning and losing – we know this and researchers have confirmed this. The games we played as women were more centered around relationships and consensus.

It is evident to me that men do better at achieving balance in their approach to business. They work hard, they play hard. And when they are working, they’re playing too. This attitude has advantages for the way business is conducted, and as women, we would do well to take note.