/Lessons from Grandma’s Room

Lessons from Grandma’s Room

By Jim Poling Sr. 

When I was growing up, any conflicts from inside or outside the home usually got resolved in Grandma’s Room.
the 17 years that I knew her, Grandma was mainly bedridden and confined
to her room with crippling rheumatoid arthritis. When there was a
problem or a conflict you went to her room to whine about how unfair the
particular situation was to you.
Grandma listened patiently to your
side of the story, asked you to outline honestly the other person’s
side, then advised a calm, quiet look at the entire picture as a start
to resolving the dispute.
It was in Grandma’s Room that I first
realized that a woman’s approach to problems and conflict was different,
and frequently superior to a man’s. When tough situations arise, it is
female intervention and management that often gets them resolved.
That view got some support recently from a New York Times article by columnist Nicholas Kristof.
wrote that he compiled coronavirus death rates from 21 countries. 13
led by men, eight by women. The male-led countries had an average 214
coronavirus deaths per million people. The women-led countries had an
average of only 36 deaths per million, a huge difference.
He also
found that almost every country with a coronavirus mortality rate above
150 per million people is led by a man. Canada’s Covid rate is 231
deaths per million population.
All this confirms what the daily news
tells us; countries where coronavirus is a runaway disaster are led by
egotistical authoritarians who shouldn’t be allowed to manage anything
bigger than a peanut stand. Look at the United Kingdom, Iran, Russia,
the United States and Brazil.
Then look to the countries with the
most successful responses to the virus – New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan,
most Nordic countries – all led by women. Their leadership through this
plague has been decisive, truthful and empathetic.
Taiwan’s Tsai
Ing-wen jumped on the pandemic in January, introducing 124 measures to
stop the virus’ spread. Angela Merkel told Germans early on to take the
virus seriously and brought in early testing. Jacinda Ardern locked down
New Zealand just three weeks after the first case of the disease was
Iceland, led by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, offered free virus
testing for every citizen and had a thorough contact tracing system. Its
death rate was an amazing 30 per million population.
These female
leaders managed the crisis competently, talking to their citizens
truthfully, with care and compassion. There were none of the strongman
tactics used by the Johnsons and Trumps – downplaying the threat,
blaming others and playing political games.
Much has been written
over many years about how female leadership styles are different. But
there has been little acknowledgement of how those styles can benefit
nations or organizations.
In politics and business there remains the
attitude that to really succeed, women have to learn to behave more like
men. That’s 20th century thinking that is hopelessly dated and needs
Women leaders tend to be less self-focused than their male
counterparts. They don’t simply tell others what to do; they work with
They usually are more empathetic and humbler, and in my
experience, are good at identifying and motivating new talent. They are
good team builders.
We have seen a trend in which more women are
taking up leadership positions. There’s still room for many more, in
fact there’s a real need for more female leadership as the world’s
problems become more numerous and more intense.
One area where female
leadership would help immensely is our off-kilter capitalistic system.
It needs reform, not replacement, and reform that creates more equality.
capitalistic system is designed to provide the greatest benefits to
company shareholders, directors and executives. It should be promoting
achievement of the greatest benefits for everyone – employees, suppliers
and customers.
They all have vital roles, yet are not treated
equally. Big gains for shareholders and executives are seldom seen by
others who had a direct impact on achieving the gain.
Studies have
shown that women are more inclusive and more likely to see others as
equal parts of the team. They are better communicators in that they
listen more and are more apt to allow others to talk and put forth their