Last week at work our team welcomed our new boss. There has been much chatter over the last six weeks about what he might be like. Whether we think he will cope with the job and the swapping of any bits of gossip we have managed to get hold of. Oh and not forgetting the usual snooping on Linked-in, Facebook and Google thanks to the Internet.
So on Monday he arrived. A strapping colossus of a man. A man who takes up space. The kind of man who has to watch he doesn’t smack his head on the door frame when entering any room. The kind of man you can’t help but notice. The kind of man, regardless of whether you are partnered or single, compels you to do a double-take. So what’s going on here?
Well over the last few years our all girl team has also had two female bosses. Perfectly competent, likable, inclusive. All of that stuff. But also in their own ways, quite girly. Women-only offices over time, eventually seem to spiral into gossipy cliques. In a nutshell, we get sick of each other. So a great big boy taking his place at the heart of the team has seriously changed the dynamic.
It’s only been a week but I feel like I’m trapped in a harem of women all vying for the attention of the alpha-male. The docile office junior strode in mid-week sporting a perfect red lipstick pout, a clear departure from her usual neutral tones. We’ve seen the appearance of high heels and sun-kissed limbs striding about the place. The waft of perfume being re-applied throughout the day is unmistakable. Even the office matriarch has been seen giggling like a schoolgirl and fluttering her eyelashes in his direction.
I’m just waiting for someone to up the ante by sucking on a lollipop in his presence.
What is it about the arrival of a man in a mostly female team which triggers this change in behaviour? The competition is on. A study conducted by Jon Maner and James McNulty suggests that women can literally smell the competition from another woman which in turn drives up their testosterone levels. Beforehand there was no competition as such because we had a female boss. But the arrival of a gargantuan man has changed all that. In addition, a study from Professor Townsend from Syracuse University reinforces the notion that women are hardwired to be attracted to powerful men. We just can’t help ourselves it seems. But what, my friends, are we competing for? Well influence of course – the currency of office politics.
The obvious ingratiation tactics from the pack in order to place themselves on the radar of the new guy is certainly amusing. A week long seduction strategy. Minus the sex of course. He’s only a man. But he’s a colossus of a man, who for the moment at least, has us all eating out of his hand.
I guess he should and we should, enjoy the honeymoon because as sure as night follows day, it is unlikely to last. The flat shoes will re-appear and the lipstick will return to neutral. The scales will fall from our eyes, the pedestal be replaced with a step and we will all wake up to ourselves.
And I say hallelujah to that!