– Instead of talking about masculine or feminine management, it is better to talk about managing humanely, says Beata Drzazga, founder of BetaMed SA, the largest medical company in Poland in terms of long-term care in the patient’s home.
There is such a thing as a female management style?
Yes. I was already introducing it 23 years ago, when I started my first company and pushed my way through the masculine world that prevailed in business at the time. Only that I had no idea that my leadership style was “feminine.”
What does it consist of?
A good entrepreneur is courageous, strong, firmly on the ground. It withstands intense stress because the market is volatile. This makes us no different from men. But at the same time, as women, we bring a lot of empathy to the business, show its human face. For example, during negotiations I can be tough. But there comes a point when I start looking for the golden mean and compromise. I’m not ruthless, I like it when at the end both parties are satisfied with the result worked out. Men in similar situations often behave like roosters who fight each other to the death.
That seems to be changing a bit, fortunately.
Yes. Certainly in the 1990s, business used to be more ruthless than it is today. Many entrepreneurs sought to destroy the competition. Also in the past system the boss was to be feared. You were not allowed to discuss with him, you had to recognize that he knew everything and always had the best ideas. Women generally do not have such expectations. When necessary, they know how to put their ambitions in their pockets, for the good of the company and employees.
Men can’t do that?
Many can. I believe that business has no gender. After all, many men also have a lot of empathy in them. In addition, sharply dividing management styles into male and female types can cause unnecessary competition and resistance from men. In addition, it builds unnecessary stereotypes, such as one that women are overly driven by emotions. And yet, in fact, in our decisions we often show more stability, regularity, common sense and caution. In general, however, I believe that everything depends on the individual person, not on whether someone is a man or a woman. For an employee, I am just to be human. So maybe, instead of talking about masculine or feminine management, it is better to talk about human management?
When you entered the business, there were not many women in this world.
And it was much harder for us than for men. I remember how at the beginning of my career I was constantly belittled. It was said that I created a nurses’ agency, and this is no serious business. It has even been reproached that I used to be a nurse myself.
Is this something bad?
I think it was actually driven by male complexes and an attempt to set me lower than the closed world of CEOs. Many of these people were very surprised when, after 14 years in business, I owned a large clinic and 91 branches in 11 provinces. And when it turned out that I was running the largest company in the field of long-term care.
Your achievements were recognized then?
Not right away either! It was said that I definitely have a husband who is behind my success. Meanwhile, I, working from morning to night, graduated from seven different fields of study, among others medical, economic or related to European integration. I sometimes joke to myself that after all this time no one can tell me that I don’t know something in a certain area.
In your business, you are not limited to the medical industry.
Yes. I have had stores with the latest fashion collections from all cities in Europe for 14 years, I also opened an electronic store in Miami.
Is a different type of leadership needed for different business fields?
I believe that exactly the same. Everywhere it is important to have organizational skills, creativity, the right mix of people, the right background and the ability to pull people along.
Do women in business need to be supported?
You just have to support people. Women, on the other hand, need to be explained that if they don’t want to, they don’t have to sit at home and devote themselves only to family and children. And that they should not give up their natural qualities to be good leaders.
Especially since today empathetic management is increasingly at a premium.
It’s funny, but when I spoke at business conferences 20 years ago about the need to change to a more human approach to the employee, I was looked at with big eyes. Some even laughed a little. Today they tell me that I was a visionary. This way of management, which was innovative at the time, is considered something everyone should come to. The European Union promotes and even requires ESG, or environmental, social and corporate governance.
Do you have satisfaction?
Of course. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels. In the organization “Employers of the Republic of Poland” I co-create a special platform through which we also promote ESG among small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. I would like them to understand that achieving these goals is not an unpleasant duty, but a business opportunity.
In that case, I will still ask about the trends of the future. Will home office completely replace stationary work?
Maybe a lot of people won’t like what I say, but I hope not! Employees who don’t know each other, and even often don’t like each other, will never really identify with the company. Work cannot be dehumanized. It is different to talk to each other in person, and different to read emails.
You can learn leadership somewhere?
I think you have to have them in your blood. Even in business studies they don’t teach this. Young people sometimes ask me if they can become inspiring entrepreneurs in the future. I answer with a question: And were you a leader in elementary school? Did you lead in the classroom? Certain predispositions are in the genes, can be noticed and nurtured from childhood.
Many women complain that it’s hard for them to break through in the masculine world that many corporations have.
I then advise them to take matters into their own hands. After all, instead of complaining, you can, for example, change jobs or start your own business. But sometimes you just need to start with a small change. I remember once I was traveling by train and ordered a treat from Warsu. A highly stressed corporate woman was traveling next to me, opening her laptop in nerves. Evidently she had to take care of some work that she disliked very much. I chatted with her, I wanted to know for what reason she was experiencing so many difficult emotions. Finally, I asked why she let her bosses treat her so badly and take away the joy of life. After a brief conversation, she smiled, closed the laptop and said: “you are right”. After which she relaxed and ordered herself some tea. I was very happy. Who knows if this first step was not followed by further changes in her life?
Source: My Company Poland