Social Psychology Are Women Better Leaders Than Men
POSTED BY SARAH WOOLTORTON
Some say that leadership requires strong relationship building and nurturing skills which the more masculine types supposedly lack. But competitiveness is essential for success in business, which is not a stereotypical feminine trait. What do you think?
This discussion was particularly interesting because it made us question what it is that differentiates males from females, and also what qualities we prize most in leaders. Therefore, the answer to this question is largely dependent on what qualities or skills you think it is necessary for a leader to possess.
LEADERSHIP IS A MATTER OF STYLE, NOT GENDER
The overwhelming response from group members was that good leadership is not necessarily a matter of sex or gender, but is more so a matter of style:
"Women are not inherently more social than men, despite stereotype, and men are not actually any more vicious or cutthroat than women. But, TRADITIONALLY, it is the narcissist who rises to the tip of the TRADITIONAL pyramid. (And there are abundant, wonderful and significant exceptions - now I AM being overbroad; but to make a point). And the point is that we should be talking about the effective character and values of good leadership first, before we break down and generalize about women and men generally - Eric Davidson
Joseph Mullin agrees with Eric's view and claims:
"It is not that one sex is better than the other it is the styles and approach are different and that their may be space for each side to learn from the other. I worked for a female VP of Engineering and while her approach was different to the problems we faced we couldn't argue with them because they worked well"."
THERE ARE INNATE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
It was generally agreed upon that there isn't particularly one gender that possesses superior leadership abilities. However, some group members were of the opinion that differences in the 'typical qualities' between men and women are imaginary, whilst others claim that there are certain traits that men or women tend to have that could both add and detract from their ability to lead:
"Certain leadership traits are more prevalent in one sex then the other and vice a versa. I have had over the years have had great leaders to follow and I have had some who couldn't lead themselves out of wet paper bags. Funny the best and the worst have come from both sexes - Robert Munch
One member explained how these differences can be used to a person's advantage:
"I think that both female and male leaders are vital for healthy leadership teams. Different skills, different perspectives and insights can be brought together and complement one another. Of course it is very easy to fall into stereotypes of female and male roles. In the international community I work with, there are a number of women who are competitive in their business situations. Perhaps one of the traits though is that they are more able to keep this from running away with itself? Unlike some guys? That said again it is very difficult to over-generalise. I really value the input and insight of the female leaders who I connect with, including my wife. She seems to be able to ask questions that really get to the core of things and is a much better chairperson of leadership meetings than any man I know! - Andy Vince
Here is a great practical example of how innate differences between sexes can influence their ability to lead, using the concept of 'time':
"I suspect that mechanical time is much easier for most men because it sets a benchmark that can be easily measured and defeated - a competition against the clock is "winnable" and easy to establish as fact. And, gosh, look: society is set up that way - wonder how that happened? On the other offhand, now that crackberries and itablets rule, I find myself at a distinct disadvantage to still beat the clock and multi-task at the same time - I'm so used to focusing on one thing at a time I'm gettin' left in the dust by women who can hold all that "crap" in their head AND STILL be productive despite my slowness and denseness. One has to wonder if it has anything to do with "regular" rhythms that interfere with being 110% for 50% of EVERY day, or if it might have to do with "long term" projects like carrying a fetus - Eric Davidson
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN ARE A MATTER OF CONTEXT (NOT BIOLOGY)
Not all members agreed that the differences between men and women are quite as profound as society seems to suggest. Another member emphasises the importance of context in displaying an effective leadership style:
"A successful leader builds on his/her strengths. Leaders need to leverage their individual styles and characteristics in different situations. Their success relates more to the industry, the organization, the specific team, and the challenge, than the gender - Indra Mendoza
Cultural context will also alter the definition of what constitutes a good leader:
"For some cultures a leader has to be decisive, for other cultures a leader has to be protective. So leadership will vary from one place to another, from one environment to another and from person to person. Our view of who is a 'better leader' will depend on all of these things taken together - Ruth Forsythe
Several members suggested that a combination of male and female leadership within an organisation is the best way to go:
"My response is not that one gender is not superior to another in overall leadership ability. I do believe, however, that it best when you have both male and female leadership in an organization to provide balance, create an atmosphere of respect, and help remove the glass ceiling - Phil Rosenkrantz
Whilst there was divided opinion on the specifics what constitutes a good leader and which qualities are feminine and which are masculine, one point was generally agreed upon - both women and men have the capacities to be great leaders (and both have the capacity to be terrible too!).
Article Source [fastseduction.com]