hours worked

Q: How are women business owners and execs different from their male counterparts? What do they do right? What mistakes do they make? Lee B.

A: Two observations from my many years of working with men and women small business owners:

1. The similarities are much greater than the differences. Some of the claimed differences I hear about aren’t true in my experience.

2. But here’s one difference: In general, women owners are more intent on preserving their balance between work and the rest of life. A while back, I surveyed a number of our Business Group members during meetings. I asked, “How many hours a week do you work?” The men complained/bragged about the number of hours they put in: 50, 65, 80, more! One guy said, “I have to wear a nametag so my kids will recognize me.”

Then it was the women’s turn: “I work 35 hours, then I go ride my horse.” “I’ve set it up so I never work Fridays.” “I want to be an absentee owner. If my GM can’t handle things, he’s fired.” “I want to spend as much time running my non-profit as I do my business.”

The women ran equally large and profitable companies — ranging from 5 to 50 employees. And they weren’t brilliant managers. It’s just that they insisted on maintaining their work/life boundary and ran their business to maintain it. The men looked at working long hours as a badge of honor.

I must say, this exercise had a huge impact on the men. They started changing their attitudes about this. And it has paid off: the guy who made the “nametag” comment is now finishing a four-month sabbatical from his business, during which his Operations Manager handled things just fine.

Lessons:

1. The difference in hours worked was entirely due to the attitudes and beliefs one held.

2. People could change when confronted with the possibility of doing things differently.

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Want to reduce the hours you work without hurting your business performance? I get into this more in two of my e-books:

— Recapture Your Time

— The Inner Game of Growth

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