Grant Cardone in Forbes
Posted by Levine Communications Office on November 18, 2011
The 10 Worst Stereotypes About Powerful Men
Not long ago I delved into the common negative stereotypes that plague high-powered businesswomen, who are still a rarity at the top of the corporate food chain. The descriptors–icy, emotional, masculine, single and lonely—hit a nerve. The piece is now one of my most-viewed, got picked up on several blogs and was shared by thousands.
I found a theme embedded in the comments: Successful men face harsh stereotypes too, and they are fed up. “What stereotypes do men at the top face? Is it not possible that, being at the peak, [everyone is] prone to being judged and labeled?” one reader asked. “Stereotypes about powerful men are not necessarily positive,” wrote another, and “are almost identical to the stereotypes about power.”
I decided to take a look. Entrepreneurs, business consultants and academics weighed in on the snap judgments and cruel adjectives hurled at successful men. The following represent the 10 worst.
Business owner and author Michael McIntyre has had this label lobbed at him several times, and believes arrogance and ego have become the top identifiers of powerful men. We see it the movies: “Bond, James Bond.” On TV: a la Don Draper circa 1964. And in the news: via billionaire Donald Trump and his presidential aspirations, or Rupert Murdoch’s media (world?) domination. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but in the portrayal of powerful men, it’s usually black and white.
Consultant to J&J, Procter & Gamble and Toyota, and author of How Rich People Think, Steve Siebold believes “greedy” is one of the most pervasive male adjectives. Gordan Gekko may be the poster boy, but this stereotype now haunts almost any man with a lucrative job. Recent Wall Street examples–Bernie Madoff and his $50 billion scam or Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and his $73 million 2007 salary–haven’t helped, either. If you’re male, successful and even tangentially deal with finances, you’ll likely face this judgment.
“It seems like all very successful and powerful men are labeled womanizers,” says executive producer and author Grant Cardone. “They probably are hopeless romantics looking for the same kind of experience in the bedroom and at home that they have achieved on the battlefield of business: Success, success and more success.”
Compulsive And Risky
Markets are overrun with testosterone-pumped, stupidly aggressive and short-term thinking men, right? You’ve seen the headlines: Too Much Testosterone On Wall Street?, What If Women Ran Wall Street?: Testosterone and Risk, Was Wall Street Drunk, Stupid or Evil?. Of course none of these mention that the best money manager in the nation, billionaire (and man, incidentally) Warren Buffett, is the polar opposite. He is methodical, relatively risk-averse and even-keeled. His favorite holding period, he says, is “forever.” Still, the stereotype prevails.
Powerful men don’t play well with others, or so the story goes. Steve Jobs was criticized for being difficult to deal with and pushing his employees to the brink. He had a reputation for demanding perfection. However, Cardone wonders if it was a fair characterization, asking if perhaps it was “just his quest and commitment to excellence and genius?”
Brian Scudamore, founder and chief of $100 million junk removal service 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, was so wary of being typecast as the narcissistic, know-it-all boss that he went to great lengths to prove himself otherwise. On a mission for transparency and inclusiveness, he excluded closed-door offices from his headquarters, stationed himself in a cubicle and initiated daily “team huddles” to allow employees to voice ideas or concerns. “The main reason I haven’t fallen into the ‘ruthless exec’ category is because I’m motivated by meaning,” says Scudamore.
“One of the most prevalent and problematic stereotypes of male managers is that they care less about input from their employees and the welfare of the workforce in general than their female counterparts,” says Todd Thomas, a management professor at Northwood University in Michigan. In this year’s ranking by The Great Place to Work Institute of the best companies to work for, which includes measures of employee satisfaction, the top 25 companies have male CEOs. “Some of these guys are getting it right,” Thomas says.
One astute male reader wrote me that he is fed up with the perception that successful men “are chronically absent fathers or husbands who are emotionally cut off from their families.” He believes the Ebenezer Scrooges are the exception vs. the rule. He’s onto something. A recent survey of 1000 men by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln revealed that American men value fatherhood more than having a successful career.
Cardone, author of business books If You’re Not First, You’re Last and The Closer’s Survival Guide, points out that powerful men in high-stakes jobs are often characterized as brutal competitors in a zero sum game. Their purported savage instincts guarantee their personal gains at the expense of anything or anyone in their paths. As an example, he offers up retired basketball coach Bobby Knight who “was so committed to winning that it came across to the public as win at all cost.”
Successful self-starter McIntyre says he’s faced assumptions that his family must have pulled strings for him or paid for him to go to an elite university, which led to his “lucky” and “charmed life.” In fact, he enlisted in the air force in order to put himself through Arkansas State University, and then worked his way up in the sales industry. Even icons like Bill Gates are characterized as having been in the right place at the right time, undercutting their agency. Researchers recently completed a nine-year study on the advantage of luck, concluding that everyone gets lucky but what you do with it–ROL, or return on luck–is what matters. “Getting a high ROL requires throwing yourself at the luck event with ferocious intensity, disrupting your life and not letting up,” wrote the study authors.
(Taken from Forbes.com)