Michael Who around here would you say is an androgynous manager?
George You know Bill Evans in engineering design?
Michael Yes.
George Well, he helps his new people along in a very gentle way. The word mentor describes it well; he assumes the responsibility for helping his people solve their work and even personal problems.

He shows them what to do, introduces them to the right people, and supports them whenever he can. And none of that detracts from his ability to dissect problems and structure their solutions. He just does both quite effortlessly.
Michael Interesting. You know I was trying to think if I had a mentor or knew any androgynous managers in the company. I guess you come closest, George. Actually, you fit the description pretty well. Do you think of yourself as my mentor?
George Well, one of them maybe. I think I can teach you some things, but I prefer not to just tell you outright how to get over the hurdles.
Michael You try to get me to discover things for myself. Don't think that hasn't escaped me because it's just what my mother used to do. She'd help me by getting me to discover the answers on my own, whether it was my homework, girl friends, buying clothes, or anything.

Of course, my dad just ordered me around and told me exactly what he expected of me. I never figured her style would be considered good management because dad was the big tycoon. But, we never really got close the way I did with mom. She just always had time to understand.
George Well, it's not only managerial roles that can benefit from androgyny. Parenting is becoming more androgynous too. You know Jim Bobko in sales?
Michael Oh, yes.
George Well, he works four l0-hour days because his wife travels to Washington for a meeting every Monday. She leaves Sunday night and comes home Monday night, so Jim takes the day off to be with Jon and Mark, their two sons. He makes up the time by working from 7 to 5 Tuesday through Friday.
Michael Doesn't his wife have a pretty good job? I know I've heard something about her.
George She's Joan Marin, and she's consulting for the State Department on the Middle East. She testified in a couple of Senate hearings last year and made the papers here.
Michael Oh yeah, I met her at a cocktail party in October last year and couldn't figure out who she was. I wonder why she didn't change her name when she and Jim got married. It's confusing.
George Well, think about her clients in the consulting firm. They'd probably wonder who Joan Bobko was. Jim told me about it when they got married. It wasn't a militaristic show of feminine independence or anything like that.

They simply saw no reason to change it since she had already done a lot professionally with her own name. He said he certainly wasn't going to change his name, so they kept their original names. It just wasn't a big deal.
Michael So they both work, raise the kids, and probably cook and clean together. How sweet. Are you that androgynous at home, George?
George I try. It's more a matter of caring and helping each other than forcing some trendy new life style on to a nice stable relationship:

Blunt the sharpness,
Untangle the knot,

Soften the glare,
Merge with the dust.
Michael So how did you become such an effective androgynous mentor, or guru?
George I'm not sure. I certainly didn't go through one of those training programs. It was more a combination of some reading and having good gurus of my own. There were several people who guided me through a transition phase of my career and life.
Michael Oh, yes, the mid-life crisis. I suppose I have that to look forward to.
George Well, it certainly doesn't have to be a crisis. I call it a transition because there were some real changes, but it didn't hurt at all. My gurus were very gentle people.
Michael They weren't really gurus were they? Somehow I can't picture you at the foot of an old Indian sage basking in the wisdom of the East.
George Well, no, they weren't like that at all. A guru is simply a teacher, and anyone can be a teacher if you're receptive enough to be a pupil. Look, I'd like to tell you about them, but I have a plane to catch this afternoon. Some other time would be better.
Michael No rush. Have a good trip.

Table of Contents   Next Episode