Women in business – setting your risk tolerance

Risk tolerance … we all need to know our risk tolerance…in our financial situations, our adventures, dating, and especially in our business.

Women entrepreneurs, business executives and managers should be aware of the Western “renegade” culture in which men are expected to perform – be bold – take risks etc. and have an expectation of being rewarded for the risks they take…whether the risky initiatives are successful or not.

I just finished reading TalentSmart’s white paper on Western Workplace Culture Rewards Cowboys, which talks about the so-called “cowboy cultures”…. the revolutionary mentality that says to defy odds is not only courageous, but also leads down the path of success.

It also states that “many of today’s Western entrepreneurial enterprises are likely modern manifestations of these” cowboy cultures and set out to figure out if there is “any real evidence to support the assumption that rebels and gamblers prosper?”

TalentSmart® researchers studied people from around the world, measured how impulsive they are and then compared that to their incomes and job performance.

Here is what they found:

  • The impulsive cowboys in Western societies are indeed rewarded for their quickdraw antics. They received higher job performance ratings and for North American men specifically, those ratings translated into significantly higher incomes.
  • Women are virtually unaffected by impulsivity. It’s not that women aren’t impulsive; they just aren’t rewarded or penalized for being impulsive. Impulsivity just doesn’t matter.
  • We didn’t find a difference between the impulsivity scores of men and women in our samples, which means women were just as impulsive as men.
  • Western men who fail to conform to traditional male expectations are finding it can be costly. In order for Western men to get ahead, they seem to require solid skills plus a renegade mentality.
  • We did not find a difference in average income between men and women.
  • When we grouped people from both genders and all geographical locations together, we also failed to find any overall connection between impulsivity and professional success.

What does this all mean?

The differences discovered in Western men are due to cultural- and gender-specific expectations. In the West, men are expected to take bold actions, and the men who do so are often rewarded for it. They are perceived as daring and decisive—two traits that are not-so distant cousins of impulsivity.

How can we use this research in our businesses?

It is our responsibility as business owners, executives and manages to properly set the risk tolerance and risk parameter within our work environment… and to talk to our team and make it clear to them what the expectations are. If you want your team to be creative and take risks, make sure to let them know. If you are more conservative, let them know that too. Set up a culture where everyone knows that it is ok to make mistakes, as long as the team learns from them…take risks, but, stay within the parameters that have been set…

Are you a risk taker or do you take a more conservative approach? Let me know.

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