The Collaborative Mindset & the Impact of Subconscious Behavior

How researching women’s and men’s subconscious behavior brought me to writing about the power dead-even rule and the power in collaborative mindsets.

As I began reading into the different sub-conscious behaviors of women and men, I stumbled upon a concept unfamiliar to me. The concept is an unspoken behavioral norm women display called the “power dead-even rule.” This rule by Pat Heim states, “for a healthy relationship to be possible between women, the self-esteem and power of one must be, in the eyes of each woman, similar in weight to the self-esteem and power of the other.” If the balance of power is off, women will subconsciously behave in negative ways (for example, gossiping, or criticism). This is often why women do not support other women (as mentioned by Dr. Shawn Andrews in the Forbes post Why Women Do Not Support Other Women).

The power dead-even rule can be found in all aspects of life, as reflected in Dr. Heim’s research, but I wanted to dig into possible examples of power imbalance of women in the workplace. Upon my research, I found a study published by the Development and Learning in Organizations which found that 70% of female executives feel that they’ve been bullied by other females in the workplace. Might this be related to the power dead-even rule? Could it be that as women continue to advance, women criticize one another or view one another as a threat?

It’s possible however, this does not have to be the status quo.

So instead of focusing on the negative, I began reading into traits of effective women leaders. Study after study shares how successful women leaders have a collaborative mentality with the self-awareness that they cannot succeed alone. These leaders help others around them and lift people as they progress. Collaborative leaders recognize the importance of lifting others, the power of community, and the strength in network.

Let’s change the isolation narrative. Let’s cheer for others success, both men and women. Let’s recognize the saying, “it takes a village.” Let’s be aware of the power dead-even rule and practice encouragement for one another.

A collaborative mentality is what will pave the way for future leaders. It is what will help increase job satisfaction and enjoy working with one another.


Many women are already changing the narrative (Girl Boss is a great example).

After my layoff from a technology company, I have been lucky enough to network with women VPs and CROs across the nation. Each and every one of those individuals wants to help another progress in their career. They often relate to my story of being laid off from a large corporation (all of them were laid off at some point). They remember the struggle and the fear they faced during the time they were laid off. Most importantly, they remember the people who helped them land on their feet and they want to give back.

How Collaboration Enhances Careers & Lives:

  1. Collaboration creates effective teams and produces meaningful results (therefore, creating opportunities for career progression)
  2. Collaboration requires respect for one another, which leads to an inclusive working environment
  3. Collaboration increases job satisfaction
  4. Collaboration encourages innovation
  5. Collaboration creates opportunities for yourself and your network
  6. Collaboration empowers one another

How to Have a Collaborative Mindset:

  1. Focus on what is best for a group/team/network
  2. Encourage team/peer alignment on a specific goal
  3. Have a willingness to learn
  4. Be humble
  5. Have respect for those around you
  6. Have integrity
  7. Practice active listening

Ways to Be Collaborative at Work/Home and what it may look like:

  1. Allow all team members to contribute; Encourage others to speak up
    At the dinner table with friends or family, give each person a chance to speak about their day without interruption.
  2. Offer help to others
    When connecting with others at a networking meetup, ask what they may need from you and how you can help.
  3. Welcome and respect differences of opinions and backgrounds
    At a conference with coworkers or strangers, express curiosity about all types of people and learn from their stories without judgment.

One response to “The Collaborative Mindset & the Impact of Subconscious Behavior”

  1. Colleen Nicastro Avatar
    Colleen Nicastro

    You are spot on Eileen. Allowing for everyone to help solve the problem is key to success. Clear communication is also critical.

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